Columbus Stainless is positioned well to export competitively to the international market, while remaining committed to growing domestic demand for stainless steel.
With market consumption of about 120 000 t/y of flat production, CEO Lucien Matthews says South Africa is the largest consumer of stainless steel in Africa, besides Egypt.
“[Columbus has] been through some tough cycles, but we have managed to get through these owing to innovation and determination,” he told Engineering News Online during a tour of the company’s one-million-ton-a-year plant, in Middleburg, Mpumalanga, on Tuesday.
He said Columbus has been “very committed to the consumption development of stainless steel in South Africa” through the continual introduction of new steel grades.
Growth in the stainless steel industry is critical, Matthews warned, adding that Columbus is aiming to expand its production capabilities in about 2021.
It is also currently assisting railway agencies, such as the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) with the development of new stainless steel products.
This year, Columbus hopes to see PRASA building the first stainless steel wagon in South Africa and, in line with the company’s commitment, Columbus has invested substantial time and money in localising the 301 stainless steel grade required to build these wagons.
The first sets of these wagons, manufactured in Brazil, were made using stainless steel produced by Columbus.