Ti­ta­nium plant will bring jobs

CityPress - - Business - PADDY HARPER busi­ness@city­press.co.za

The min­ing in­dus­try on the KwaZulu-Na­tal north coast will get a R4.5 bil­lion boost next year through the con­struc­tion of a ti­ta­nium pro­cess­ing plant in the Richards Bay in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment zone. The R4.5 bil­lion is made up of a R4 bil­lion in­vest­ment in the plant, plus up to R500 mil­lion that will be spent on roads and other in­fra­struc­ture.

The plant, a joint ven­ture be­tween New Zealand-based Aver­tana and Nyanza Light Met­als, will cre­ate 550 per­ma­nent jobs.

Another 1 200 di­rect and 800 in­di­rect jobs will be cre­ated dur­ing the con­struc­tion phase.

Nyanza Light Met­als is jointly owned by Jo­han­nes­burg-based Arkein In­ter­na­tional and Mauritius-based DBF Cap­i­tal.

Aver­tana, which was founded in 2012, has de­vel­oped process tech­nol­ogy for pro­duc­ing min­er­als and chem­i­cals for use in ev­ery­day items from low-value in­dus­trial residues and the waste left be­hind by min­ing com­pa­nies.

The com­pany’s min­er­als and chem­i­cals are used in var­i­ous in­dus­trial goods and con­sumer prod­ucts, in­clud­ing paints and coatings, plas­tics, pa­per, fi­bres and tex­tiles, weld­ing supplies, and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

The plant will use waste steel slag that Evraz Highveld Steel and Vana­dium has been stock­pil­ing at its Wit­bank, Mpumalanga, op­er­a­tions since 1965.

The slag in Wit­bank – about 45 mil­lion tons – equates to about 200 years of project life.

The ti­ta­nium diox­ide pig­ment is used as a colourant for food prod­ucts, tooth­paste and paint.

South Africa con­sumes 35 000 tons of ti­ta­nium diox­ide pig­ment a year.

The new plant will pro­duce 50 000 tons of the pig­ment per year, most of which will be used lo­cally. The rest will be ex­ported to Africa and the Mid­dle East.

KwaZulu-Na­tal Premier Wil­lies Mchunu said the project, which was put to­gether un­der “chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances”, would boost busi­ness con­fi­dence and help at­tract more in­vest­ment to the prov­ince.

“Such de­vel­op­ments are im­por­tant given the fact that there are fears of a re­ces­sion re­sult­ing from the down­grad­ing of South Africa to junk sta­tus,” Mchunu said.

“We ac­knowl­edge that we are not the only na­tion in the world that has had to ad­just to the harsh­ness of a re­ces­sion and other global eco­nomic chal­lenges,” Mchunu said.

KwaZulu-Na­tal Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, Tourism and En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs MEC Sihle Zikalala said the plant was a “strate­gic” in­vest­ment that would help to en­sure that KwaZulu-Na­tal re­mained the na­tional leader in the pro­duc­tion of chem­i­cals.

Zikalala said work on the plant, in which the depart­ment of trade and in­dus­try had in­vested R17 mil­lion for fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies and a fur­ther R900 mil­lion as an in­vest­ment al­lowance, would be­gin late next year, and would have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on the lo­cal and re­gional economies.

The project started in 2011 when Hatch was ap­pointed to do a study on ex­tract­ing ti­ta­nium from Wit­bank’s waste steel slag and turn­ing it into ti­ta­nium diox­ide pig­ment.

Pro­duc­tion is sched­uled to start at the Nyanza plant in 2019.

The eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment depart­ment has signed off on an in­vest­ment of R11.9 bil­lion for the de­vel­op­ment of in­fra­struc­ture, which would cre­ate another 1 200 full-time jobs and another 3 100 dur­ing con­struc­tion.

This in­cluded civil and elec­tri­cal work on the 110-hectare Phase 1F in­dus­trial es­tate in the Richards Bay In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Zone, which is where the plant will be lo­cated.

Be­cause the zone is a spe­cial eco­nomic area with tax and cus­toms in­cen­tives, the plant will be fully fenced and gated in ac­cor­dance with SA Rev­enue Ser­vice li­cens­ing stan­dards, mak­ing it a cus­toms con­trolled area.

Zikalala said 20% of an es­ti­mated R300 mil­lion con­struc­tion spend in Phase 1F would go to lo­cal small, medium and mi­cro en­ter­prises, in line with the in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment zone’s statu­tory re­quire­ments. The ini­tia­tive, he said, was in line with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s call for rapid eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

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