Safal SA launches new plant

2008-05-08 00:00

Cato Ridge will be home to a new metal coating facility early next year following the official launch of construction at the 100 000-square-metre site yesterday.

The facility represents an investment of more than R1 billion in the local economy.

About 200 people will be employed in the construction phase, which started yesterday following delays over environmental approval.

The facility will employ at least 300 people fulltime during its first phase.

International stakeholders include the European Investment Bank and the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group.

The Industrial Development Corporation has also added its weight to the development.

Afrocon Construction will carry out the construction work while Jim Martin and Associates will be responsible for structural engineering.

The managing director and chief operating officer of Safal Steel South Africa, Chris O’Neill, told The Witness that more than 350 containers housing machinery from various parts of the world are on their way to Cato Ridge.

The global company will manufacture products used as factory housings in a 30 000-square-metre world-class plant near the N3 toll route and an Eskom depot.

The operations process entails "virgin" steel being coated with an alloy of aluminium and zinc to protect the product against corrosion and so increase its lifespan.

O’Neill added that Safal Steel South Africa will spend four months assembling the equipment.

The plant is expected to be up and running in April 2009.

Chief executive officer Ronald Graham told The Witness that about 70% of the products manufactured at the Cato Ridge plant will be destined for foreign markets, including sub-Saharan Africa, South America and Europe.

He noted, however, that the South African market remains attractive.

The plant will start to operate at full capacity after about one year.

Graham said the facility will serve as a local coating competitor to international steel giant Mittal.

Once completed, the plant will represent about 40% of the group’s overall production capacity, producing 150 000 tons a year.

The well-diversified group boasts operations across Africa.

Safal Steel South Africa is seen as a modernised version of Mabati Rolling Mills — a low-key East African-based enterprise consistently rated as the top company in Kenya.

kavith@witness.co.za

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