Alcan still interested in SA

Posted On Monday, 05 July 2004 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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The trade and industry department insists that Canadian aluminium group Alcan has not lost interest in plans to build a smelter in SA.

Property-Housing-ResidentialDirector-general Alistair Ruiters said at the weekend that he had met with Alcan recently, and the group still expressed "very strong commitment" to studying the South African project.

Alcan announced last week that it would now only make its decision on the mooted Coega smelter at the end of the year, and no longer in June this year.

A day later, the group announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding to take a 20% stake in a new aluminium smelter in Oman.

Alcan's move in Oman increased fears that this would be the death knell for the mooted smelter in SA an investment of about $2,2bn.

But Ruiters said the two countries were never competitors.

It is still possible that Alcan could take small stakes in both an Oman and a South African smelter.

"They (Alcan) never gave me the impression that it was either/or," Ruiters said. "SA was not in a race with Oman."

The mooted smelter would be important for SA as it would be the largest single foreign investment to date, and as an anchor tenant for the Coega industrial development zone, which has not secured any investors to date.

Ruiters said government had to have patience in any investment process.

The first delay in the mooted project resulted from Alcan's takeover of rival Pechiney last year. Following this, the company had to conduct a due diligence study of the South African and other projects Pechiney had brought to the table.

He said negotiations around aluminium smelters typically lasted between five and 10 years, and that an aluminium smelter had a lifespan of between 25 and 40 years.

He said government had reconfigured plans for the smelter and presented these to Alcan after its takeover of Pechiney.

He said government, through several entities such as the Industrial Development Corporation and Mozal, had substantial knowledge of aluminium smelters.

Ruiters said it was not government's place to present these plans to other potential investors.

Last modified on Thursday, 26 June 2014 16:08

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