Alcan pushed to decide on Coega

Posted On Monday, 11 September 2006 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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THE government looks as if it’s trying to nudge a decision out of aluminium producer Alcan on whether it intends to build a smelter in the Coega development zone in the Eastern Cape.

 

Property-Housing-ResidentialWhen Alcan, the second-largest producer of primary aluminium in the world, took control of another producer, Pechiney of France, three years ago, it took up the rights to build a plant at Coega.

Since then, though, the Canadian company has kept the SA government waiting on its response.

And it now seems Russia’s second-biggest aluminium producer, Sual, owned by Russian oligarchs Victor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik, and Rusal, Russia’s biggest aluminium company, may be waiting in the wings.

Sual’s president is South African-born Brian Gilbertson. There is speculation that Gilbertson, who developed SA’s first aluminium plants at Richards Bay when he headed Billiton, is spearheading a strategy to merge Sual and Rusal.

“If they [Alcan] do not go ahead, we will look at it very carefully,” said Vekselberg.

Should the Russian aluminium producers develop a smelter at Coega it would be another arrow in the quiver of Gilbertson’s armoury of mega-deals.

He was largely seen as the architect of the BHP and Billiton merger in 2001.

However, Gilbertson has played down a merger with Rusal as only a “hypothetical possibility”.

In 2005 there were reports that Gilbertson had approached the Department of Trade and Industry to discuss opportunities at Coega.

Vekselberg was in SA as part of a trade delegation led by Russian president Vladimir Putin this week, and his comments may have pricked up the ears of Alcan executives.

Asked if the government was keen to get a final decision out of Alcan, Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa said: “I wouldn’t want to say that, but there are others who would like to get involved if they don’t.”

There had been expressions of interest by parties inside and outside SA, Mpahlwa added.

Vekselberg’s Renova mining group announced billions of rands’ worth of investments in SA this week.

It will develop a manganese mine in the Kalahari and has plans to build a ferromanganese plant at Coega.

Last modified on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 17:25

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