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Zim launches multi-billion-rand Nyanza Light Metals project

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A COMPANY led by Zimbabwean businesspeople, prevented by government from implementing a US$400 million National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) recapitalisation project, has launched a R4.5 billion project at the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ) in South Africa.

Nyanza Light Metals chief executive Donovan Chimhandamba (pictured) and his team yesterday launched the project in the northern KwaZulu-Natal port city following commencement of construction of the Nyanza Light Metals Technical Services Centre in March.

Chimhandamba’s Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) is suing the NRZ and government for “unlawfully” terminating a US$400m (R5.85bn) tender awarded to it in 2017.

DIDG, a consortium of Zimbabweans registered in South Africa, partnered with Transnet to recapitalise the NRZ. 

The launch yesterday is the first phase of Nyanza’s chemical complex under construction. It is worth R200 million.

The facility will produce sufficient titanium dioxide pigment volumes for its customers to use in their manufacturing processes, while bulk volumes will be produced by the main plant coming in the next phases.

Nyanza is a chemical manufacturing company that has begun the construction of its titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigment production plant at the RBIDZ.

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigment is widely used in the manufacture of products such as paints, industrial coatings, plastics, papers, inks, foods, medicines (that is, pills and tablets), as well as most toothpastes.

The Nyanza project plan rollout will be carried out in three phases – the first phase being the construction of a technical services centre currently underway, while the second and third phases will be undertaken over the next 36 months, with a total investment value of R4.5 billion. 

The plant is set to produce over 80 000 tonnes per annum of titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigment, as well as other titanium-related products, colour pigments, gypsum and water treatment chemicals such as iron sulphate (copperas) and aluminium sulphate (alum).

The project is in line with RBIDZ’s mandate of being a purpose-built and secure industrial estate tailored for the manufacturing of goods and production of services to boost beneficiation, investments, economic growth, job creation and the development of skills.

The R200 million first phase of the new Nyanza titanium dioxide plant in Richards Bay is now under construction, following a launch event.

Plans for the plant were first mooted as far back as 2011 Chimhandamba, who is also founder of private equity firm Arkein Capital Partners. He is also behind the Arkein group of companies.

Chimhandamba said the technical services centre is part of the R200 million first phase of the much larger Nyanza chemical complex that is planned on a 67-hectare site.

The multi-billion-rand project represented an opportunity for South Africa to demonstrate that Africans could transform the continent from being a mere exporter of low-value primary raw materials to becoming an exporter of value-added products, Chimhandamba said.

The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Ravi Pillay, officiated at the launch and inspected the progress of the construction of the first phase of the R4.5 billion investment. 

Pillay said KZN was working hard to consolidate its position as an investment destination of choice.

“Part of the work includes identifying and addressing those areas and challenges with a potential to dent our reputation and derail the attraction of investment. Such challenges include corruption, crime, and the supply of energy and water,” said Pillay.

Nyanza got a boost from the Cairo-based Afreximbank as it has approved a US$2 million (about R28m) project preparation facility and had been appointed the mandated lead arranger for the R4.5bn project. — IOL

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