The lack of significant public infrastructure spend to boost steel consumption and construction activity is one of the challenges that the local steel tube market has to deal with, says steel industry association the Association of Steel Pipe Manufacturers (ASTPM).
This is from both a primary and downstream perspective, as well as the “very low” domestic demand.
The influx of cheap small-bore steel tube imports has not aided the industry either, says ASTPM executive director Keitumetse Moumakoe.
For instance, he highlights that “the biggest casualty” for the sector in the third quarter of 2019 was the voluntary liquidation of steel tube and pipe manufacturer Robor – which had in recent years invested and developed a new fully integrated steel processing facility of world-class standards and technology.
“Robor was at the forefront of the African steel industry,” Moumakoe tells Engineering News.
Further, the unavoidable restructure of steel pipe manufacturer Hall Longmore’s spiral welded pipe manufacturing plant in Duncanville, Gauteng, resulted in it being placed under care and maintenance in the second quarter of 2019.
The facility had a staff complement of 121, which has consequently been reduced to seven.
“It is the industry’s hope that the Steel and Fabrication Masterplan, which was commissioned by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, will go a long way towards preserving and building a globally competitive steel value chain,” he notes.
Further, the association remains hopeful going forward, with the National Treasury having passed an instruction in 2019 that explicitly prohibits the use of imported ductile iron on all public infrastructure water projects.
“This will effectively ensure that all future water pipeline projects in South Africa, which require steel pipes, will be 100% locally manufactured,” concludes Moumakoe.