AFRICANGLOBE – Agni Steels South Africa this week fired up its furnaces at the Coega industrial development zone (IDZ) near Port Elizabeth, to start production at its R400m, state-of-the-art, mini-steel mill.
The Indian-backed venture run by South Africans is the first “Black-owned” steel mill in the country, says its owners.
The plant will initially produce 100,000 tonnes of mild steel billet annually for domestic use and export. About 270 people will be employed in three daily shifts, enabling the plant to run 24 hours a day.
In celebration of the milestone, Agni Steel’s Indian directors were in South Africa to oversee the event.
This included Shenbagavalli Ramji, Chinasammi Sakthi and Kugalur Ilangovan, sons of the original Agni Steels India founders and directors, who first set up a steel mill in Tamil Nadu state, India in 1992.
“The firing-up of the plant is the fruition of over eight years of hard work that started as a dream,” Mr Ramji said on Thursday.
The trio said they were following in their fathers’ footsteps in Africa. The Agni Steels South Africa venture is in partnership with three South African directors Sharaz Khan, Hassan Khan and Dhiroshan Moodley.
“We are very proud at this moment and … thankful to the South African directors for giving us the opportunity, to Coega for their help and association, and to the Industrial Development Corporation for their support and belief in us,” said Mr Ilangovan.
The company’s directors also said they were “excited to witness the positive shift in the South African policy environment”, regarding the country’s aim of minerals beneficiation and developing mineral value chains.
Mr Khan said the revised South African approach to scrap metal beneficiation and the Department of Trade and Industry’s policy on local content aligned “exactly with international IDZs as a key value proposition and incentive for investment”.
The Department of Economic Development in May last year issued a policy directive on scrap-metal exports, followed by new export permit guidelines.
Agni Steels South Africa is already geared for expansion to 20,000 tonnes of steel a month, with new furnaces set to be added in the next phase of development.
By: Mark Allix