'Alcan still keen on Coega site'

Posted On Monday, 23 May 2005 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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An alumina smelter at the Coega Industrial Development Zone is a 'definite', Coega Development corporation (CDC) chairperson Moss Ngoasheng said yesterday.

 

Property-Housing-ResidentialNgoasheng was fielding questions at the announcement of the first international investor at the site during a media briefing in Sandton.

He reiterated the government's standpoint that there will be a smelter at the development.

Currently, the most likely contender seems to be Canadian firm Alcan, which has gone back to the drawing board after opting for proven technology rather than the untested technology it had previously favoured.

South African technology proven at Mozambique-based Mozal is now the kind favoured and Ngoasheng believes that another similar smelter could be constructed in record time.

In 2003, Alcan took over French aluminium producer Pechiney, giving it a 49% stake in the project.

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) owns another 12,5% of the project.

Ngoasheng confirmed that a new feasibility study, conducted by the IDC and Alcan, was currently under way, as the shift in technology meant that much of the previous study had to be reconsidered.

Also outstanding was an agreement between the smelter and Eskom on tariffs.

The importance of such an agreement was highlighted by Ngoasheng with his statement that smelter's export electricity - not aluminium.

He could not be drawn on a date for an announcement of a firm commitment by the company but was hopeful that, after negotiations and studies are complete, this would occur.

But other voices have expressed interest in the $2,2-billion project.

In September last year IDC COO Gert Gouws confirmed that talks were ongoing between the corporation and other aluminium parties.

In April, Russian firm Sual indicated that Coega was one of four prospective sites for a possible new aluminium smelter investment it was looking into.

The company, Russia's second-largest aluminium group, has been headed by South African mining-industry luminary Brian Gilbertson for the last nine months.

Another firm that has expressed keen interest is Brazilian mining company Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD).

The company has a $78-million global exploration drive and has indicated that Africa will be an important part of that drive.

The IDC has indicated that it may also consider a partnership relationship for the smelter, hoped to provide many jobs to the impoverished Eastern Cape.

At one stage it was indicated that construction of the smelter was to start early this year with first metal to be produced in 2008 - now it is clear that these plans are somewhat delayed.

Last modified on Thursday, 26 June 2014 10:17

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