Diversified industrial firm United Heavy Industries has announced a R350-million investment in its recently acquired steel mill at Mandeni, KwaZulu-Natal, which will more than double the plant’s production capacity.
United Heavy Industries director Kanishka Dhar tells Engineering News that equipment upgrades at Mandeni will increase the mill’s production from 70 000 t/y to 150 000 t/y.
United Heavy Industries bought the business of Metso Minerals when it closed its foundry operations in December last year. It now produces semi-finished ingots and bars of various grades of iron and steel.
The R350-million investment at Mandeni forms part of a planned R17-billion investment drive, through which the industrial group aims to create up to 4 000 jobs, over the next five years.
Of the R17-billion, United Heavy Industries plans to spend R4.5-billion on a 1.5-million-ton-a-year integrated steel mill in the next two years, with a phased expansion amounting to another R3.7-billion.
The integrated steel mill will generate about 2 500 direct and indirect jobs, which Dhar notes “exceeds more than 50%” of the company’s job creation targets.
The balance of the funds will be allocated to investments on key infrastructure projects and manufacturing units within the energy and aerospace industries.
Dhar says the company “wants to make South Africa a global destination as a specialised manufacturing hub within the heavy engineering, energy and steel sectors because of its unexplored potential in global manufacturing and distribution, [as well as] an unparalleled diverse natural resource footprint”.
United Heavy Industries has been part of major infrastructure projects, from roads, bridges, government buildings and new townships to shopping complexes, defence facilities, petroleum plants and railway stations.
Fellow director Rahul Kaushik notes that the company “wants to be part of the team that develops South Africa nationally with new projects in large scale infrastructure development, steel manufacturing and major energy initiatives”.
Referring to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s statement that infrastructure development will form a key part of the country’s economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, United Heavy Industries concurred that “growth in the heavy industries and public infrastructure sectors offers huge potential for providing broad economic empowerment and reducing unemployment”.