South African West Coast set to boom

With major work going on at the deep water port of Saldanha, great interest in the mining sector and the potential for servicing the oil and gas industry growing all the time, the West Coast is set to become a major destination for investment.

South African West Coast set to boom

West Coast – South Africa

Supporting these industrial and commercial developments is the growth in residential areas. The Parklands suburb in Table View is South Africa’s fastest-growing suburb. The decision by the City of Cape Town to roll out its Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system along the West Coast confirms the area’s importance but also provides for the first time a good public commuter system for Atlantis.

Holiday destinations where property is selling along the West Coast include Velddrif and Dwarskersbos. Near the Langebaan Lagoon is the popular holiday town of Langebaan and to the south is the 30 000-hectare West Coast National Park. This is one of the most popular viewing areas for the annual show put on by nature in the first weeks of spring, the blooming of the wild flowers. To the north is the quaint fishing village of Paternoster and the Columbine Nature Reserve where whales are often spotted.

Port of Saldanha

The bay that defines the area protects the largest deep-water port in Southern Africa. The Port of Saldanha exported about 46 million tons of iron ore in the 2011 financial year, as well as steel, metal concentrates and other commodities. About 3.2 million tons of crude oil is imported. In addition, the bulk of South Africa’s strategic oil reserves are stored at Saldanha. The three major terminals cater for oil, ore and marine repairs. There is also a fabrication site and a small-craft harbour.

On the back of a decision by MAN Ferrostaal to invest heavily in an oil tanker and platform fabrication and repair plant, Saldanha has been identified as a node for industrial development, with particular emphasis on the steel industry. A feasibility study for the creation of an industrial development zone (IDZ) in Saldanha was completed and presented to the public In October 2011. Planners hope to have a licence for the IDZ by September 2012.

Among other schemes put forward for development within the IDZ are plans for a renewable-energy plant (200MW solar, 100MW wind, plus gas plants), a housing project and the creation of two floating dry-docks for maintenance and repair of sea-going vessels. The original port of Saldanha near the town services the trawler fleets of several fishing companies. Premier Fishing has a fish-meal plant in the area and Sea Harvest runs a large cold-storage facility. The Saldanha Bay Municipality had a gross geographical product of R4.7-billion in 2008. The GGP for the West Coast region was R14-billion.

Oil and gas

The Port of Saldanha is already equipped with many of the facilities and its people have the skills to service the growing oil and gas industry, with Angola and Nigeria among the biggest markets in the world. Saldanha has an existing airstrip, well-established engineering capacity and the port can look after big ships and rigs.

Forest Oil’s Ibhubesi project, together with other projects being investigated by PetroSA, BHP Billiton and Shell International, could result in pipeline developments and the development of a gas plant and power station at Hondeklipbaai. Drilling, exploration, production and support services are all potential subsectors in which the West Coast could offer services to the oil and gas industry.

Mining and mineral processing

A modern iron-ore-processing plant was launched in 2011 in Saldanha. This facility enables exporters to verify the grade of their product before exporting it. This R160-million venture is a joint undertaking between Kumba Iron Ore and Transnet.

The iron-ore terminal is gearing up to accept increased volumes from the rail connection to the iron-ore mines of the Northern Cape. A R70-million reverse-osmosis plant was commissioned in 2011 to help control red iron-ore dust at the bulk terminal.

Namakwa Sands is the site of a planned titanium mine. An integrated titanium, silicon, magnesium and zirconium minerals beneficiation complex is planned for Saldanha. The cost of such a facility, a world first, would be in the region of R9-billion with the pre-feasibility study alone costing R40-million. Partners in this venture, Rare Metals Industries (RMI), include the Industrial Development Corporation, the National Empowerment Fund, Magnesium & Metals and TJTI. Such a plant would become the anchor client in the Saldanha IDZ, generating many downstream opportunities for other enterprises.

Steenkampskraal, 70km north of Vanrhynsdorp, is the site of the rare earth mine run by the Great Western Minerals Group (GWM). GWM is investigating the building of a separation facility at the mine in partnership with Chinese company Ganzhou Qiandong Rare Earth Group. Ninety percent of the global supply of rare earth metals, which is used in hybrid car manufacture, currently comes from China.

West Coast set to boom

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