Global aluminium producer Alcan has invited four engineering companies to participate in the selection process to construct its R19,2-billion aluminium smelter at Coega, in the Eastern Cape, the bidding process closes on February 23, and the winner will be announced by the end of May, Alcan said on Tuesday.
Answering emailed questions from Engineering News Online, global public affairs director Robert Valdmanis said that construction of the smelter would then start by the middle of next year.
The plant will be the long-awaited anchor-project for the Coega industrial development zone, and Alcan signed a power deal for it with State-owned power firm Eskom in November.
Alcan said at the time it would have a 40% to 45% holding in the smelter, and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) would have a 15% holding, while negotiations to bring in a third, large shareholder are currently under way.
Valdmanis said that there had been “a great deal of interest” by companies in becoming the third stakeholder.
“The process is advancing normally, and discussions are ongoing,” he said, but did not say when an announcement would be made in this regard.
What's in it for SA?
Meanwhile, Alcan had committed to allocate at least 40 000 t/y to the domestic market, at equivalency pricing, which were the same prices that it would sell its exports at, Valdmanis said.
“In addition, Alcan will mobilise a team of Regional Industrial Diversification (RID) experts to assist the government beneficiation efforts,” he stated.
The mining and beneficiation business unit within the State-owned IDC would also proactively support further aluminium beneficiation, IDC CEO Geoffrey Qhena said at the smelter's signing in November Four agreements were signed between Eskom and Alcan for vital electricity supply - between the Department of Trade and Industry and Alcan on developmental electricity pricing; between the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) and Alcan on land use; and between the Department of Trade and Industry and Eskom on power infrastructure in connection with the long-awaited 6 000-job aluminium project.
Qhena stressed that it was part of the IDC's mandate to support high-developmental-impact projects like the Alcan smelter and would be working to identify, facilitate and fund further downstream aluminium opportunities in the priority Eastern Cape province.
He described the Alcan project as a “strategic anchor project with huge developmental returns and benefits” for the greater Coega area and the Eastern Cape province.
Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin, who has championed the project, said the multiplier effect of the project would result in Port Elizabeth's becoming one of South Africa's largest metropoles and Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa said that effect would spawn some 30 000 employment opportunities.