Industry building resilience

1st September 2023 By: Simone Liedtke - Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

In a resolute demonstration of their “unwavering commitment to operational continuity”, some members of industry representative Aluminium Federation of South Africa (Afsa) have undertaken the “pivotal endeavour” of significantly investing in alternative electricity generation methods.

This strategic endeavour serves as a defence against the challenge of State-owned Eskom’s load curtailments, further emphasising the industry’s commitment to maintaining seamless production operations.

Moreover, as the risk of Eskom’s impending price escalations looms, the industry’s proactive stance takes on heightened significance.

CEO Muzi Manzi says this proactive stance has ignited interest among stakeholders, compelling them to explore pathways toward establishing a robust and self-reliant electricity supply that operates independently of Eskom.


“Addiontally, the pace of transitioning towards decarbonisation, through the embrace of renewable-energy sources, has been conspicuously gradual.

“This measured trajectory presents a palpable risk, potentially rendering producers susceptible to an array of cross-border adjustment restrictions,” Manzi says, noting that these constraints might reverberate forcefully across pivotal export bastions such as the US, the UK and the European Union.

Notwithstanding these challenges, Manzi says South Africa retains its eminent stature in the global aluminium production landscape.

Holding the eighth rank in primary aluminium production globally, the country’s aluminium sector boasts a “robust value chain”, extending from adept primary production to the crafted finished goods tailored for specific end-use applications.

The industry’s prowess in export activities remains a “hallmark accomplishment”, with a substantial quantum of South African aluminium exports destined for discerning markets such as the US and Europe.

“This outward orientation not only underscores the industry’s competitive edge but also serves as a testament to the consistent premium quality characterising its aluminium products,” Manzi comments.

Notably, this prowess extends to the realm of secondary alloy exports, fostering symbiotic partnerships with distinguished automotive conglomerates such as Toyota and other revered Japanese original-equipment manufacturers.

Although aluminium production has a reputation for energy-intensive smelting processes, Manzi notes that downstream remelting of aluminium constitutes 5% to 7% of primary aluminium smelting.

The industry has, therefore, embraced an ethos of sustainability, systematically integrating recycled scrap across its operational spectrum, he says, reiterating that the domestic aluminium industry stands in alignment with the government’s stringent scrap metal export control measures, ensuring the perpetuity of competitive and premium-grade scrap supply.