Tuesday, 08 December 2020 14:40

Green shoots for construction industry as Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone stakes claim to be Africa’s Titanium Capital

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The announcement that Nyanza Light Metals has appointed Grinaker-LTA to design the top structure for its new Technical Services Centre is highly significant for the construction industry as well as for the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ).

Bhekani Bheki Mdlalose

The RBIDZ is a Special Economic Zone. These Zones form a major part of the government’s efforts to grow the economy and create jobs. Worth R200 million, the Nyanza Light Metals Technical Services Centre is the first phase of a project to establish a fully-fledged production plant worth R4.5 billion to supply around 80 000 tons per year of titanium oxide pigment as well as other Nano-titanium-related product.

Although South Africa is the second-largest producer of titanium dioxide mineral sands and slags in the world, it still has to import all the value-added titanium products and has hardly any local titanium value-added industries. Titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigment, a US$20 bn a year market, is a fine white powder used to provide whiteness and opacity in the manufacturing of products such as paints, industrial coatings, plastics, papers, inks, foods, medicines (i.e. pills and tablets) as well as most toothpastes.

“South Africa has long recognized that we are missing an opportunity to beneficiate our mineral riches and so maximise their revenue-generating and job-creating potential. The Nyanza Light Metals project represents a major investment in mineral beneficiation – one of the key focus areas of the RBIDZ – and so has the potential to spur economic growth in the RBIDZ and its surrounding areas,” says RBIDZ Acting CEO, Simangele Ngcobo. “This project sets RBIDZ on the path to becoming Africa’s Titanium Capital.

“Major infrastructure projects like these also have the potential to transfer skills and technology to the local labour market which in turn will also underpin the economic growth which is so urgently needed.”

Nyanza Light Metals Technical Services Centre is expected to take 12 months to be completed, and will then be able to start production while construction on the main commercial plant begins. During its construction, the Technical Services Centre will employ around 100 people with an estimated 60 permanent jobs created.

Grinaker-LTA Group Managing Director, Bheki Mdlalose, says that this project is a welcome sign that the much-vaunted infrastructure-led growth strategy is gaining some traction. He says the company will focus on developing local partnerships in order to maximise the benefits of the project. “The construction industry is in the doldrums, and a major project like this demonstrates how big infrastructure projects are more than the sum of their parts. A key element of our contract is subcontracting a proportion of the work to local firms which have the necessary skills and experience,” he says. “The opportunity to work on a big project like this is a game-changer for local construction firms, and will help them gain the skills and experience to participate in similar projects as RBIDZ.”

G-LTA is a 100% black-owned construction and engineering company with a long track record.

Donovan Chimhandamba, CEO of Nyanza Light Metals, says that the appointment of Grinaker-LTA is a significant milestone because it adds a valued player to the team. “Though for now they are focused on the heart and centre of our operations, which is building the Technical Services Centre, we are happy as Nyanza to have them advise on the broader issues around the main plant. We have no doubt of the quality they will deliver and look forward to working with them”.

Last modified on Tuesday, 08 December 2020 14:58

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Murray & Roberts is South Africa’s leading engineering and construction services company. It has delivered infrastructure throughout South and Southern Africa for more than 110 years and is today recognised as an international engineering and construction…