LAUGFS Holdings Ltd together with Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC) last week signed an agreement to develop the country's first ever plant producing titanium dioxide from mineral sand adding value to mineral sands.
Chairman of LAUGFS Holdings W.K.H Wegapitiya and Managing Director of LAUGFS Holdings Thilak De Silva signed on behalf of LAUGFS whilst Chief Executive Officer of SLINTEC Asela Gunawardena and Director of SLINTEC and Chairman of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Prof. Sirimali Fernando signed it on behalf of SLINTEC.
LAUGFS said in a statement that the new venture would produce titanium dioxide from ilmenite obtained from mineral sands extracted from the Pulmoddai beachfront. "Venturing into this nature of an agreement with a semi government-owned institution to set up a processing plant in order to add value to a product brings many facets of opportunities not only to us but Sri Lanka as a nation. At present mineral sands is exported as a bulk commodity whereas these sands will be processed and re-imported back to Sri Lanka as a different product which is higher in value," noted Mr Wegapitiya.
SLINTEC at the onset started a project with the Ministry of Technology and Research and NSF as a partner to produce titanium dioxide - TiO2 and Nano TiO2 from ilmenite obtained from mineral sands of Pulmoddai. Ilmenite is a mineral formed from oxides of titanium and iron (FeO.TiO2). It is also one of the major sources of metallic titanium.
Sri Lanka is estimated to have 18 million metric tons (MT) of ilmenite reserves amounting to the ninth largest reserve in the world. Under the new joint venture LAUGFS and SLINTEC will initiate the project in three phases. "LAUGFS together with SLINTEC would launch into commercial production of the titanium dioxide which is about 20 times value addition to ilmenite. Later, the two enities would simultaneously engage in setting up a state of the art processing plant which would produce nano titanium better known as NanoTiO2," the statement added.