Hulamin boosts local economy with R970 million expansion

2009-11-25 00:00

THE giant Pietermaritzburg-based manufacturer Hulamin yesterday officially launched its ambitious rolled products expansion, which has injected hundreds of millions of rand into the local economy.

The project, which was launched at a high-level ceremony in Pietermaritzburg, comes on stream amid a global slump that has knocked sales volumes.

The JSE-listed company, which has kept its “head above water” and remained profitable during the downturn, will eventually ramp up its production capacity by 20% to 250 000 tons per annum as a result of the R970 million expansion.

Hulamin CEO Alan Fourie said R420 million was spent in the KZN economy, adding that the company imported R350 million worth of equipment.

The project has created several hundred jobs within Hulamin and its service providers.

“The annual economic value creation that will flow from this project will be about R450 million per annum, which is clearly of huge significance to this region,” Fourie said.

Hulamin’s Rolled Products division recently won a prestigious President’s Award from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).

The five elements of the expansion were foil rolling, foil finishing, twin roll-casters, a plate plant expansion and upgrades of two existing rolling mills.

Hulamin is intent on increasing the production of its “more demanding products” such as light-gauge foil, used primarily in the packaging industry.

The expansion has meant that Hulamin will be able to produce foil to very thin gauges — a technically demanding process requiring sophisticated manufacturing plant and stringent process control systems.

“This project is particularly important because it will now finally give Hulamin the capacity and capability to produce the necessary volumes of the targeted product mix, which will generate sufficient earnings to enable the business to comfortably fund its future growth potential,” Fourie said.

However, he also warned that several external threats linger on the horizon. These include the rand’s ongoing strength against the U.S. dollar and the threat of rising costs emanating from Eskom’s proposed electricity tariff increases.

Premier Zweli Mkhize, who was the guest speaker at the launch, praised the company’s expansionary move, adding that the plant should become an integral part of the province’s industrial strategy, which is centred on “minerals and metals beneficiation”.

 

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