Mpumalanga-based industrial valves specialists Brimis Engineering technical director Moeketsi Mpotu emphasises the significant growth opportunities available through government’s offering support to the mining valves industry.
He states that the local industry has remained on a “positive upward trend” since government implemented a minimum threshold percentage for local content – 70% in the low- to medium-pressure valves spectrum – for the different types of valve products and actuators in 2014.
Despite the positive impact on the industry, Mpotu stresses that more growth could be achieved if certain valve products required 100% local content, as well as if there were better compliance monitoring.
“The decisive and progressive interventions by government are positive, but the current challenge is weak enforcement on the ground, and often a preference for imported brands by some companies. South Africa is certainly capable of matching, or even exceeding, some international specifications for valves,” he elaborates.
Further, Brimis Engineering operations manager Mphephu Nengovhela says that it would be beneficial for government to designate a special economic zone, creating a hub where all valves could be manufactured.
“The industry should start thinking long term, particularly in supplying Africa’s mining industry with valves and other fluid conveyance equipment. There is significant opportunity to use the African Continental Free Trade Area to support new markets, once the costs associated with the movement of goods are reduced.”
This also means that Africa could become self-sufficient, and can “lead the way” in valves manufacturing, Nengovhela adds.
He notes that, with valve products still being imported, end-users have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, as the global supply chain faces severe pressure regarding the flow of goods, with cargo flights being delayed and sometimes cancelled.
Moreover, new travel bans have been implemented in many countries over concerns about the so-called South African variant of Covid-19, further exacerbating the impact on the movement of goods.
“Reduced reliance on imports, combined with the strong local manufacturing capacity, would help to shield local industries against any future global supply chain challenges, as well as strengthen South Africa’s place in African manufacturing.”
Mpotu highlights Brimis Engineering’s active support in improving local content in valve manufacturing.
He states that, at a local as well as regional level, the company participates in local business forum the Middelburg Chamber of Commerce, as well as other local government initiatives in Mpumalanga.
Further, he adds that Brimis continues to strengthen its supply partnership by partnering with a manufacturer that can produce high-pressure valves that meet the 70% local-content requirements.
“The time has come for local-content requirements for high-pressure and high- temperature valves. To this end, we have already delivered and installed several of these valves at some of the plants where we provide maintenance services.”
Brimis Engineering, in the near future, also intends to set up a fully operational, low-pressure manufacturing facility in the Steve Tshwete local municipality, as this will contribute towards addressing local-content challenges and allow for regional and local upliftment through the consequent creation of jobs.
In the long term, the company intends to establish a 100% local-content manufacturing facility, where Brimis will design and manufacture certain types of high-pressure and high- temperature valves for local and export markets.
“Government, through the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, has played a critical role in designating valves for local manufacture. It also is now up to big industry players, such as the mining houses, to embrace the opportunity and ensure compliance,” he concludes.