An artist’s rendition of the Nyanza Light Metals Technical Services Centre. Photo supplied

The multibillion rand Nyanza Light Metals 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, said Nyanza chief executive Donovan Chimhandamba.

He was speaking on Thursday at the launch that followed the commencement of construction of the first phase of the Nyanza Light Metals Technical Services Centre in March this year.

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

The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Edtea), Ravi Pillay, officiated at the launch of Nyanza Light Metals (Nyanza) Centre and inspected the progress of the construction of the first phase of the R4.5 billion investment at the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ) on Thursday.

Pillay said that they were working hard to consolidate their 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 Light Metals (Pty) Ltd is a chemical manufacturing company that has started the construction of its titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigment production plant at the RBIDZ. The TiO2 pigment is widely used in the manufacturing of products such as paints, industrial coatings, plastics, papers, inks, foods, medicines (pills and tablets) as well as most toothpastes.

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

This was said by Zitto Alfayo through a video conference with Richards Bay IDZ and the MEC for Edtea KZN at the Nyanza construction launch ceremony. The $2m would fast-track the detailed engineering work that Nyanza was completing for phase 1 over the next 10 months and prepared the project for construction of phase 2 and 3 that was estimated to equate to the entire R4.5bn investment value and would be constructed over 30-36 months.

Afreximbank (Africa Export-Import Bank) headquartered in Cairo, Egypt has assets worth over $20bn. It’s a multilateral finance institution focusing on investing across africa.

The Nyanza Light Metals project plan roll-out would be in three phases, the first phase being the construction of a technical services centre that was currently under way, whereas the second and third phases would be undertaken over the next 36 months, with the total investment value of R4.5bn producing over 80 000 tons a year of 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 was said to be in line with the 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.

Nyanza chemical complex occupies 67 hectares of land of which 45 hectares would be fully built and covered with industrial operations.