In an effort to take the study of properties of metal beyond theory, diversified South African-based industrial corporation United Heavy Industries is to set up a metallurgical laboratory at its plant in Mandeni in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Most metallurgical laboratories are located near mines and this places students of metallurgy in cities at a great disadvantage. They cannot see and engage in the practical work of mining, concentrating and smelting and must make do with theory.

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The metallurgical laboratory at United Heavy Industries will allow for mechanical and chemical working-tests to be made on ores and furnace materials.

Samit Chakraborty, Head of Technical at United Heavy Industries, said: “There is need for a metallurgical laboratory close to the large industrial and commercial areas of Durban and Richards Bay to benefit students as well as the metals processing industry that seeks testing services.

The metallurgical laboratory at United Heavy Industries will have the latest state-of-the-art technology and equipment, including an induction furnace, vacuum degasser, refining furnace, various casting facilities, 3-D metal printer and hybrid cast printer.

He said the laboratory facility will be made available to university students specialising in the pyro-metallurgy and metallurgical sciences for research purposes and special projects.

Top students from universities will be accorded the opportunity to complete their internship at the United Heavy Industries facility or at other UHI partner facilities.

Yogita Juneja, Head of Human Resources at United Heavy Industries, said the metallurgical laboratory will serve as an incubation point for students from neighbouring universities to improve their technical skills.

“We will offer internships at the United Heavy Industries facility which will prepare students for employment with practical experience, making them valuable assets for future employers.

“We look forward to this initiative to positively contribute to the growth of the South African economy,” she said.

Since 2003, United Heavy Industries has been strategically aligned with MECON India Limited, a parastatal that specialises in engineering and turnkey projects for the Government of India as well as several Industrial corporations in India and globally.

Chakraborty said the continuous alliance with Mecon not only helped to prepare various teams of engineers within United Heavy Industries for delivery on key infrastructure projects and manufacturing units in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa but will also be a platform for ongoing knowledge transfer and skills development in South Africa.

The company is in process of setting up an Electric Arc Furnace production plant in Mandeni.

The new Integrated steel plant will include multiple primary melting units, secondary refining units for the niched steel segment, continuous casting machines and hi-tech rolling mills.

Products will be sold to countries in Africa, Europe, South East Asia and India.