GROWTH FROM EXPORTS Growth in the mining, and food and beverage, sectors for stainless steel, led to consumption in South Africa increasing by 8.6% last year
Owing to the varied benefits which companies obtain as members of the Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association (Sassda), the association has created a tiered membership structure.
“Sassda is in a transitionary phase of its history, stemming from the realisation that members obtain different benefits and value from membership. “This has led to the new structure being based on ‘the user pays’ principle,” says Sassda executive director John Tarboton.
The new structure comprises a set of competitive membership packages, which are based on cost and inherent added-value. The packages are tailor-made for the size of members’ operations, as well as the number of employees within an operation specifically assigned to the production of stainless steel.
“In line with our goal of pioneering a new approach to stainless steel in South Africa, we have also identified a range of potential projects for the ‘new look Sassda’ to deliver enhanced returns on member investment,” he points out.
Among these developments are a newly developed management course, designed to support middle-tier management, and converting Sassda’s existing fundamentals course to an electronic-learning course to increase accessibility.
“Sassda also looks to increase the promotion of, as well as the activities associated with life-cycle costing, which lies at the heart of the value stainless steel can offer prospective users,” Tarboton points out.
Lunchtime webinars on the applicability of stainless steel to fabricators and its functionality for different stainless steel users will be hosted by Sassda, as will a biennial stainless steel nontechnical two-day conference and awards banquet aimed at providing the latest global and local sector-specific market intelligence.
Tarboton stresses that continuing to fully qualify members as Sassda-accredited fabricators remains a goal for the association. He maintains that this will enhance the reputation of such members, subsequently creating more business opportunities for them.
Room for Growth
Tarboton argues that the local mining industry holds significant growth potential for the local stainless steel sector, particularly owing to the lack of investment to date, as well as the large amount of stainless steel used in mining equipment.
“The recently ratified Mining Charter III is also spearheading the drive for localisation and the necessity for local content. Sassda is, therefore, working with the Mining Equipment Manufacturers Association of South Africa to ensure our members are able to leverage this potential.”
The export market for stainless steel components in mining equipment is also showing growth, as a large amount of local stainless steel material was exported to the Democratic Republic of Congo last year, Tarboton recounts.
Potential for growth is also apparent in the food and beverage market, he adds.
“There is a growing demand in Africa to use stainless steel down the entire value chain, in the conversion of raw food materials to finished food products. This has been seen across the Southern African Development Community regions, particularly in East Africa.”
The growth in the mining, as well as the food and beverage sectors for stainless steel, has led to consumption in South Africa increasing – mainly because of stainless steel exports – by 8.6% last year, Tarboton emphasises.
Despite this growth in the industry being the first since 2014, Tarboton argues that the local stainless steel market is still under pressure.
“The majority of our members have low order books and low margins. Margins are also tight and, in the run-up to the elections, members said there was little activity and no enquiries, but they are expecting this to change in the months ahead.”
The local market consumed 156 103 t of stainless steel last year.