With the increasing contribution of the aluminium industry to the South African economy, particularly in the automotive field, the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ) is seriously considering the establishment of an aluminium metals hub.
Richards Bay has the benefit of being the home to South 32’s Hillside smelter, the largest aluminium smelter in the Southern Hemisphere. This smelter produces over 810kt of aluminium per annum that provides substantial down-stream beneficiation opportunities, a point recently made by RBIDZ CEO Pumi Motsoahae at the recent Aluminium International Conference hosted by the Aluminium Federation of South Africa.
Motsoahae added that the aluminium hub will have the facilities for direct receiving of liquefied aluminium from the South 32 Hillside smelter and is intended to also attract downstream industries that will beneficiate not only aluminium but also iron, steel and titanium, to take advantage of Richards Bay Minerals and Tronox producing about 30% of the world’s titanium and about 30% of its high quality pig iron in the Richards Bay area.
“The aluminium hub will offer tenants a fully-serviced property located within a secure Customs Control Area, which will reduce export and import duties as well as serve as a one-stop shop by clustering all the relevant government departments that investors moving into the hub will require,” Motsoahae said.
The South African aluminium industry is one of the industrial pillars of the South African economy, ranking eighth in the world for the production of aluminium. The aluminium sector generates significant foreign exchange revenues and provides over 15 000 employees with decent jobs.
Aluminium also has great potential in the automotive industry where manufacturers are making more and more use of aluminium to reduce weight, one example being the C-Class Mercedes Benz that consists of 45% aluminium against nine percent that went into the previous model.
At the same conference, Sizwe Khumalo, CEO of Isizinda Aluminium, elaborated on the platforms for down-streaming aluminium and also highlighted the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the RBIDZ wherein Isizinda undertakes to supply molten metal received from South 32 Hillside Smelter to locators within the hub.