The Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ) went on a charm offensive at the Mining Indaba held in Cape Town to woo local and international investors seeking export and import opportunities in KwaZulu-Natal province.
RBIDZ acting manager for business development and support, Mzamo Khuzwayo said while the hub was based in the rural heart of the province, being located near Richards Bay meant it had access to a well-established road, rail and information and communications technology infrastructure network to transport goods.
"The port of Richards Bay is one of the deepest ports in South Africa, which means that it can handle larger vessels than other ports. This presents good opportunities for companies that need to import maybe some of their raw materials, or to export their final product," Khuzwayo told the African News Agency.
He noted that state logistics company Transnet had big expansion plans for the port, adding: "I'd like to see it as one of those ports that has a really big future potential, and as an investor you would want to be located as close as possible to it."
Khuzwayo said as part of efforts to attract investment, the RBIDZ planned to acquire the Bayside aluminium smelter which was shut down by BHP Billiton in 2014.
"We are not necessarily looking at establishing a smelter there, but we are looking at using some of the buildings that exist in that complex to house companies that are going to be on the beneficiation space," he said.
"The beauty of that site is that it's already zoned for heavy industry, which means that it's almost unlimited as to what we can accommodate. And because the aluminium industry uses a lot of electricity, there are big power lines that used to bring power to the smelter and that whole area in general has no shortage of electricity."
The RBIDZ was also looking at taking advantage of Operation Phakisa opportunities presented by the marine economy, renewable energy, agro-parks and ICT, given that Richards Bay was situated close to the landing site of undersea data cables, Khuzwayo told ANA.
He hailed a R4.5-billion titanium beneficiation plant that is set to open soon as the RBIDZ's biggest catch so far. The plant aims to produce titanium dioxide pigment, a product used in paint, toothpaste and colourants for food products.
At the mining indaba, Khuzwayo said the RBIDZ had interacted with local and international investors who showed eagerness to bring in investment.
"We are quite interested in what is happening in the mining space, but we would like to start forming relationships with players in this space to start encouraging them to mine and beneficiate in the country prior to exporting.
"I've met somebody from Transet freight rail who said we must start talking about them offering us a package that we can offer to our investors in terms of logistics solutions, and that's a good thing because it makes us a little bit more competitive," he said.
"I have also had an approach by a Chinese company that it trying to set up a smelter here in South Africa."