Despite the downturn in South Africa’s manufacturing sector, steel fabricator Cosira’s brand-new fabricating facility in Vulcania, Johannesburg, is operating at full capacity, the company announced at the facility’s official opening earlier this month.
Cosira group CEO John da Silva said that the group had largely managed to avoid the recession, since much of its work was for the mining and power-generation sectors, which had been relatively resilient. The group had been working on projects such as the Medupi power station and Anglo Platinum’s Unki project, in Zimbabwe, where there had been no slowdown.
He explained that the logical next step for the company’s expansion would be to move into foreign territories. Some footprints had already been made in Africa, in countries such as Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Mozam- bique.
However, Da Silva said that the group’s most imminent expansion plans were in the opening of a new office in Santiago, Chile, next month, where it would start looking for a partner to launch a steel business serving South American countries.
“The Cosira group is currently exploring avenues for international expansion, with a view to continuing purposeful and sustainable expansion,” Da Silva said.
“We believe the future lies not only in South Africa’s own burgeoning infrastructure devel- opment and construction requirements, but also in those of a growing export market. We aim to strategically leverage these to our benefit not only locally, but also globally.”
The company has expanded continuously over the past nine years, from 250 employees in 2000, to 2 000 employees in 2009, and Da Silva said the company’s order book was full for the next few years, seeing it through the worst of the recession.
“We acknowledge that there is a global economic recession; we have just chosen not to take part in it,” said a bullish Da Silva.
The new Cosira Vulcan facility, which initially has a nameplate capacity of 4 500 t/m and an eventual capacity of 6 500 t/m, along with an earlier investment in refurbishing the Cosira Heriot facility to a capacity of 750 t/m, has made Cosira the largest privately owned steel fabricator in Southern Africa, on a tonnage basis, Da Silva said at the facility’s opening ceremony.
The capital investment for the facility came from Cosira’s own internal resources, he explained, adding that the company’s turn- over last year was about R1,3-billion.
“By having all our structural steel fabrication under one roof, the process management and control at Cosira Vulcan will be more effective,” Da Silva said of the R250-million investment, Cosira’s single largest investment to date.
“This will allow Cosira to increase its production output and complete projects faster than before,” he concluded.