As the municipality of Saldanha seeks to develop and diversify its economy, the focus is on the concept of it becoming a ‘Clean Technology Bay’, which could see up to R83-billion invested into the area by 2030, creating up to 40 000 jobs.
The Saldanha industrial development hinges on sustainable ‘green’ developments, and covers integrated port management, clean-tech bay framework, the cluster development of renewable energy products, aquaculture, metals, minerals, competence and skills training.
“We wish to set a benchmark of sustainable back-of-port development, which is solely possible by tapping into resources and knowledge that has not been seen in South Africa before,” comments Saldanha industrial development lead consultant Peter Stuivenberg.
The first project worth R11-billion involves the development of some 1 060 MW of energy generation, consisting of 720 MW syngas base-load power, a 100-MW wind farm and a 200-MW solar plant, phased out over ten years.
A 40 Ml/day desalination plant will also be part of these plans.
Affordable energy and water provided over the long term to potential businesses in the area, is seen as an incentive for the manufacturing sector to locate their operations in Saldanha.
The second major project would be the Rare Metals Industries (RMI) – a R10-billion integrated titanium, zirconium and magnesium pure metals refinery plant in Saldanha, on a bilateral and partnership agreement with Russian and American institutions, explains Stuivenberg.
The smelter would need to be built using the latest zero-emission technology.
This project involves the Strategic Projects Fund as a part of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) spearheaded by Philisiwe Buthelezi.
This initiative is said to offer many opportunities and would enable the NEF to be a forerunner in the expansion and creation of new industrial and manufacturing capacity of South Africa, investment in economically depressed areas or poverty nodes, increased export earning potential of South Africa, and reduce the country’s dependency on imports.
Stuivenberg says that RMI will imminently release its feasibility study, but cautions that, while enthusiasm is evident, the project is “still a long way to go”.
The third large project is a R6-billion ‘Solar City’, which is being spearheaded by Dutch property developer Robert Baron Groeninx von Zoelen.
The ambition is to construct 6 000 houses for low- to middle-income levels, which would be designed according to efficient, sustainable and green building principles. The city, which will be one of the first of its kind in the world, will also introduce downstream opportunities like production of solar heaters and coolers, and LED street lights.
In 2010, Cabinet gave the go-ahead to the Saldanha Bay municipality to conduct a feasibility study for developing an Industrial Development Zone (IDZ).
This study is expected to be complete by May 2011, and follows a prefeasibility study into a Saldanha IDZ, which was completed in October 2009, after being commissioned by Wesgro for the Department of Economic Development and Tourism in the Western Cape.
The IDZ concept is being driven by Saldanha municipal manager James Fortuin, and Saldanha industrial strategy developer Shane Cordom.
Earmarking the area as an IDZ would mean tax incentives for companies to locate business there, as well as building trust in the global market and ensuring that establishing operations could be done with fewer hassles.
The creation of the IDZ – with offices, increased port and cargo capacity, port functionalities, and marine repair and maintenance facilities which could include floating and an inland dry dock – could attract investments between R25-billion and R40-billion.
Saldanha is already South Africa’s largest and deepest natural harbour and further port development is key. In this regard, a ‘brotherhood’ agreement has been signed with a Rotterdam-based company in 2009, which expressed interest in boosting port activities.
The Saldanha Bay municipality is about 140 km from Cape Town, and currently relies heavily on steel industries and steel export from ArcelorMittal South Africa’s Saldanha steel operations.