6 years ago

Mpumalanga Business 2017 edition

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Mpumalanga Business 2017 is the seventh edition of this highly successful publication that has since its launch in 2008 established itself as the premier business and investment guide to Mpumalanga Province. Supported and utilised by the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA), Mpumalanga Business is unique as a business journal that focuses exclusively on Mpumalanga.


INTERVIEW Columbus Stainless (Pty) Ltd The company has provided Mpumalanga with the opportunity to beneficiate otherwise exported minerals. As the only flat steel producer in South Africa, what success and achievements has Columbus Stainless enjoyed since its inception? Columbus Stainless is the largest producer of stainless steel flat products in the southern hemisphere. It produces 80% of all stainless steel flat products used in South Africa and still exports 70% of its production capacity. Columbus Stainless has grown together with the local stainless steel value chain and was instrumental in growing the almost non-existent local market to the current over 120 000 tons of stainless steel consumption per year. It has provided the technical know-how and logistical support that allowed the strategically important automotive industry to be where it is today. We have introduced grades such as 409, 441 and 436 to the automotive market, 444 as an alternative to 316 and recently 301 for the manufacturing of Prasa’s rail cars. Columbus is dedicated to the South African economy in a way that our overseas competitors will never be. How has operating a steel plant contributed to the province’s economy? Columbus contributes ±4.7% of the GDP of Mpumalanga and 0.3% (2015) of the GDP of South Africa while employing around 2 100 people, including permanent staff, apprentices, contractors, temporary workers and trainees. In terms of your industry, what are some of the important numbers/statistics? Raw material prices and exchange rates are the main drivers in our input costs. We also strongly depend on local and global GDP growth which translates into growth and demand for durable goods such as stainless steel. Has Columbus Stainless contributed to the success of its clients and suppliers? Columbus has successfully been able to supply on short lead times the automotive component makers who rely on Just-In- Carlien van der Merwe, Human Resources Development Manager Time deliveries. There are also a substantial number of local suppliers and service providers that are fully or partly dependent on Columbus for their existence. These include IDC-backed Hernic Ferrochrome and 100% BEE-owned Dispack Packing. Columbus Stainless has recently started a supplier and enterprise development programme from which numerous QSE’s (Qualifying Small Enterprises) and SMME’s have benefited. Is Columbus Stainless contributing to economic opportunities for other businesses in Mpumalanga? Columbus Stainless brought to Mpumalanga the opportunity to beneficiate otherwise exported ferrochrome, nickel and iron scrap thereby generation generating a constant inflow of US dollars, euros and other foreign currencies into the country and the province. There is an MPUMALANGA BUSINESS 2017 62

INTERVIEW portunity to develop industries that manufacture goods for household applications. Also, given the water situation in South Africa, there is also an opportunity to focus on water treatment and sanitation plants that utilise stainless steel components. What main challenges is the industry facing now? Globally, the stainless steel industry is facing an oversupply of stainless steel flat product, and an imbalanced competition in export markets. Countries competing for the global stainless steel market tend to protect their own manufacturing industries by following some proven strategies, including import duties, export rebates, government support in the sourcing and price determination of raw materials, electricity and other value adding costs. These strategies and incentives are currently not in place in South Africa, placing a harsh penalty on South African manufacturers when trying to compete with their foreign counterparts. What manufacturers is Columbus Stainless supplying to? Columbus’ stainless steel is used by various manufacturers/industries such as: automotive component makers to manufacture exhaust pipes, catalytic converters, etc; household items; transport vehicles and industrial applications. Further, there are many applications in the architectural, mining and power-generation industries Carlien van der Merwe. Columbus is an incredible success story in terms of transformation and empowerment. Please share your experience of how this was achieved. Transformation is one of the company’s strategic pillars. As a large enterprise, Columbus has to apply the generic scorecard. The new Codes of Good Practice have presented opportunities for innovative solutions. Kutala Bizana, General Manager, Legal and Transformation We are also working very closely with Mpumalanga Stainless Initiative (MSI). MSI is an incubator that specialises in manufacturing stainless steel products. We provide stainless steel at discounted prices as well as assist them with technical support. This in turn will ensure that there is continuous demand for our product. We firmly believe in Corporate Social Investment. Columbus’ CSI is geared towards children and schools. Kutala Bizana Verina Roach, Strategist Tell us about your training initiatives, how they were formulated and rolled out, as well as the successes that they have yielded to date. Columbus Stainless has various training initiatives that include learnerships, apprenticeships, experiential learning and graduate development programmes and a developmental programme. These programmes include the gaining of work place experience during an enhanced training period. The two learnerships offered are Business Administration, a National Qualification Framework, Level 3, and Metals Production, a National Qualification Framework Level 2. The apprenticeship offered by Columbus includes millright, instrumentation machanation, fitters, fitters and turners, boiler-makers, diesel mechanics, riggers and electricians. Columbus is an accredited training provider, therefore all training is provided by Columbus and Merseta. Verina Roach 63 MPUMALANGA BUSINESS 2017

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