Structural steel fabricator DSE MD Kobus Marais says that the current economic downturn has given the company impetus to diversify and to focus its business in different industries. This is after the company experienced a quiet period earlier in the year, but he confirms that there are now significant opportunities emerging.
“DSE has focused on supplying struc- tural steel to the infrastructure industry, as well as to the mining sector. Projects have included the construction of the 2010 soccer World Cup stadiums, legacy initiatives, such as the Burj Al Arab, in Dubai, as well as Soccer City. This has stood the company in good stead. In total, DSE has delivered 10 500 t of structural steel to the combined projects, with a large portion of that going into constructing the stadiums,” says Marais.
He notes that the company has comple- ted most of its work at local stadiums, with Greenpoint stadium close to completion. Construction giant Grinaker-LTA, of which DSE is a division, attests that Soccer City will be handed over in October. “We are busy with touch-ups in the interior, and all externals, such as parking and roads, will be finished in December, which will be in time for the January 2010 completion deadline,” says Grinaker-LTA project director Mike Moody.
The 94 000-seater stadium will be the biggest stadium ever built for any soccer World Cup event and will be the largest in Africa. The stadium comprises 80 000 m3 of concrete, 10 000 t of reinforced steel, 8,5-million bricks and 7 100 t of structural steel, as well as a double layer of fabric roof, explains Moody.
DSE has been a significant player in the infrastructural development of South Africa through its involvement in various FIFA World Cup projects. This has greatly benefited the company and the sentiment of success is echoed by South African President Jacob Zuma, who noted that the FIFA World Cup has been one of the biggest infrastructure investment initiatives the country has ever seen.
Meanwhile, DSE states that the expan- sion of its production facility, due for completion in September, includes an additional production bay.
This additional 6 000 m2 will be used for the fabrication and trial assembly of components for both the Medupi and Kusile power stations. The company secured the contract for the fabrication of compo- nents for State utility Eskom’s new power station on a subcontract basis from Murray & Roberts. “DSE will continue to expand to meet the market requirements if necessary,” says Marais.
Currently, the production facility is 65 000m2, with a 220 000-m2 laydown area. He believes that this makes DSE one of the largest producers in the country, with it having doubled its capacity from last year. “The company is certainly the largest steel fabricator in the country,” he adds.
Further the company’s order books sit at 50% of its target for the next three years.
However, although the company’s order book is impressive, Marais says that this will only translate into 50% of the company’s capacity. DSE has the capacity to deliver up to 48 000 t/y.
This production capacity may take time to actualise, owing to the flattened steel demand and fluctuating steel prices, all attributed to the economic downturn and what Marais refers to as the effects of countries living at the edge of their margins.
Further, Marais says that some steel mills have chosen to shut down their fur- naces, which could affect supply-side issues when demand turns in future. DSE is confident of the myriad of opportunities available locally and globally.
The company sees opportunities in uranium-mining and will aim to supply fabricated steel for supporting structures for the mechanical equipment at the mines.
Further, although renewable-energy projects are in their infancy, there may be opportunity for DSE to supply structural steel to these projects if the projects are formalised and tendered.
On the international front, DSE sees various continents as holding potential for business. Further, West Africa, with its oil and gas resources, holds possibilities for supplying significant tonnages of steel to the projects operating in the region.
Meanwhile, Marais notes that the suc- cess of projects is due to the South African steel industry’s self-sustainability.
“Iron-ore is mined locally, mills are based in South Africa, and fabricating and galvanising facilities are also based in this country,” he concludes.