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PPC Highveld blending plant to ramp up outputs

The new facility takes cement closer to beyond-Gauteng markets, helping to secure supply in the region while reducing transport costs and transport-related carbon emissions.

JSE-listed cement maker PPC expects its newly opened blending plant in Mpumalanga to continue ramping up outputs and inch closer to operating at full capacity in the coming months.

The group says the facility, which was officially opened in August in the Emalahleni Local Municipality, aims to protect cement supply for small contractors in the region. It is currently operating at around 68% of its capacity, but this is expected to increase as awareness of the operation grows.

PPC says the new plant will improve logistical efficiencies and reduce turnaround times by cutting out the need to transport materials from Gauteng, benefitting the construction and building industries in and around the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.

“The opening of this Highveld plant allows us to optimize our logistics through localization, which is imperative in reducing transport costs and minimizing transport-induced carbon emissions,” says PPC’s head of inland business unit, Bheki Mthembu, in a statement.

Smaller deliveries

The group highlights that because the plant now centralises services to the region, it will enable the producer to make smaller deliveries of above 12 tonnes – about 240 bags – and facilitate multiple small deliveries to different customers, a service required by micro enterprises that cannot afford large material loads. Read: PPC in R380m empowerment deal

This comes after the firm notified investors last month in an operational update for the five months to August 2023 that the core South African and Botswana operations had recorded a decline in cement sales volumes. According to the update, cement sales volumes declined by 6.6% in the five months to August 2023, compared to the last comparable period.

“Cement sales volumes in the inland region continued their decline, albeit at a significantly lower rate, while the coastal region saw a downturn in volumes following higher than usual rainfall and weak retail demand,” the group said.

However, it acknowledged in its outlook for the rest of the year that the business does need to continue implementing operational efficiencies and cost-containment measures that will protect it from rising input costs in South Africa’s underwhelming economic climate.

“We are excited about the opportunity this new Highveld plant affords us to extend this strategic commitment and expand not only the reach of our products but also the positive role PPC plays in underpinning South Africa’s vital construction sector as well as the country’s economic growth,” says Mthembu, commenting on how the new plant forms part of the group’s broader strategic goals.

New Hi-TC Training Centre at Highveld Industrial Park

The opening of the new and improved Hi-TC on Friday, 15 July 2022 was a historic event for Highveld Industrial Park. Hi-TC is a first-class training centre providing training in various disciplines including artisan training. Highveld Industrial Park (HIP) revived the training centre in light of the skills shortage the country is currently facing. The training centre once formed an integral part of skills development, and HIP saw the potential to restart this facility to assist in addressing the skills gap also with the support of Minerals Council SA.

Rudolph Raphael, Hi-TC Manager, says: “Although we officially commenced training again in 2022, we have been offering training since 2017 by providing sponsored training to our local communities..” The old Highveld Training Centre was constructed in the 1980s while owned by Anglo American to meet the training and development requirements of Highveld and its sister companies, including Transalloys, Vanchem (now Bushveld) and Rand Carbide.

Following the commencement of business rescue of Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium Limited, the training centre was closed down.

There have been a few attempts by various third parties to resuscitate the centre, but a decision was made to relaunch the training centre with a flagship project run by Komatsu and Hi-TC. Since training commenced under the Hi-TC banner in 2022, learners have already been trained in various disciplines, including painting, computer skills and various health and safety related courses and other soft skills.

  • Hi-TC has workshops and lecture rooms to accommodate training in the following trades:
  • Millwright
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrician
  • Boilermaker
  • Fitter and Turner
  • Welder
  • Rigger
  • Roll Turner
  • Earth-Moving Equipment Mechanic
Flagship Apprenticeship Programme by Komatsu and Hi-TC

Our flagship apprenticeship programme was launched in June 2022 in partnership with Komatsu. The aim of this apprenticeship programme was to recruit learners from the local community and empower them with skills development, which will in turn positively impact eMalahleni’s economy. Following a stringent recruitment process after receiving 900 applications, 8 apprentices were elected from the local community surrounding Highveld Industrial Park for mechanical fitter apprenticeships

Hi-TC Accreditation and Short Skill Courses

Hi-TC obtained accreditation from the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations as a skills development provider for Electricians, Mechanical Fitters and Fitters and Turners. Further accreditation is currently underway for Millwrights, Welders and Boilermakers. In addition, Hi-TC is fully accredited to undertake trade testing in each of the disciplines.

Hi-TC also has accreditation from MerSETA to undertake short mechanical and health & safety skills training programmes. “We are also able to tailor-make any training solution by partnering with our professional network of skills providers to ensure that all training needs are met. We have offered a number of other extra training programmes since our official commencement in 2022,” Raphael adds. These are:

  • Basic Fire Fighting
  • HIRA
  • Painting
  • Working at Heights
Speakers at this event
Derek Pienaar, CEO of Highveld Industrial Park was instrumental in kick-starting the project with Komatsu along with the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) forum. His vision and leadership saw the potential to utilise the training centre for uplifting the local community as well as providing quality training to private entities and individuals.

Conny Nkalithshana, Executive Mayor of eMalahleni was elected and appointed in 2022. She has been a strong supporter of the Highveld Industrial Park and will be collaborating on certain key projects to benefit eMalahleni. The mayor fondly spoke of her memories of Highveld as a child and reminded everyone that a generation who doesn’t support its youth has no future.

Ehsaan Moosa, Financial Director of Komatsu. Hi-TC and Komatsu took hands in 2022 with a flagship project for the training centre and agreed to collaborate and launch a pilot training initiative together, to train eight local, unemployed, black apprentices as Mechanical Fitters. The training is fully sponsored by the KSAF trust. “This project reflects what the founder of Komatsu believed: People develop technologies and technologies develop people.”

Archie Mdakane, MerSETA Quality Assurance. The training centre occupied and used by Hi-TC is accredited as a learning facility and assessment centre for skills programmes accredited by merSETA.

Rudolph Raphael, Highveld Industrial Park provided guidance throughout the process of restarting the training centre. Always ready to provide advice and assistance in ensuring that the projects that Hi-TC sought to implement were successful, including obtaining accreditation.

Quick facts:
  • The centre has been upgraded.
  • There are 15 separate training and assessment facilities.
  • There are eight office spaces suitable for administration staff members.
  • There are six fully equipped lecture rooms for theoretical training.
  • The centre has capacity to train approximately 400 apprentices per annum in various trades at any given time.
What the centre offers its recruits:
  • Classroom training
  • On-the-job training
  • Experimental learning
  • Learnerships
  • Apprenticeships
  • Short skills courses
  • Bursaries
  • Leadership and management development
  • Trade tests
  • Skills programmes
  • 1980s – Anglo American constructed the Highveld Training Centre to meet training and development requirements.
  • 2007 – 2015 – Highveld was acquired by Evraz. For an extended period, Highveld sustained financial losses due to market and operational factors.
  • 2015 – In April 2015, Highveld filed for business rescue and all steel operations were ceased.
  • 2016 – Established Highveld Industrial Park.
  • 2022 – Opened the new and improved Hi-TC.

Highveld Steel – the dreams of generations revived

By: Solidariteit Tydskrif

“It only seems impossible until it is actually done.” This is the philosophy of Johan Burger, former CEO of Highveld Steel in Witbank (Emalahleni). And it is this philosophy that helped the Highveld Steel-dream come to life again. A section of Highveld Steel is now permanently in operation after the major retrenchment tragedy that hit the plant in 2015. The Highveld Steel plant is once again a source of income for many of those who had lost their jobs at the time. The plant was finally shut down in July 2015 after a major retrenchment process. Around 2 200 people, of which 1 753 were from Highveld Steel and 434 from Vanchem Vanadium Products in the Emalahleni area, were retrenched. Among the retrenched counted 300 Solidarity members.

Highveld Industrial Park is growing in leaps and bounds

By: Witbank News

Following the closing of Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium Limited and the retrenchment of 1 700 employees in February 2016, Highveld required a creative approach to save it from being demolished and sold as scrap. Highveld Industrial Park, as it is now known, was developed from the erstwhile steelworks and has been regenerated as a multi-purpose site for industry and commerce and is today home to a diverse group of enterprises, including transport, manufacturing and engineering companies. Highveld Industrial Park started with only four tenants in 2016 and has grown from strength to strength; in August 2019 it reached the 50-tenant mark, which was a proud moment for the Industrial Park, given the position it was in less than four years ago. Highveld Industrial Park’s tenants boasts a wide variety of companies from various industries, including a dragline bucket refurbishment company and rail siding operators that transport both coal and ore from one of the largest private sidings owned by Highveld, to both Richards Bay and Maputo.


By: Global African Network

Is there a clustering of enterprises taking place?

It was always the intention to create an Industrial Park that operates as a “one stop shop” where businesses are able to operate with ease and we are pleased to see these synergies developing between the tenants. The park offers a host of support services, some of which are offered by current tenants and others through in-house expertise. This ranges from diesel supply, compressed natural gas supply, security services, on-site laboratory and environmental support services to emergency services.

Novo Energy launches R130m gas compression facility in eMalahleni

By: Engineering News

Energy solutions company Novo Energy on Friday launched a R130-million large-scale natural gas compression facility at the Highveld industrial park, in eMalahleni, Mpumalanga. The facility provides cleaner, and more reliable and cost-effective energy, compared with coal and other petroleum products. At the launch, CEO Andri Hugo said the facility would play a significant role in helping to unlock South Africa’s power constraints, while also reducing carbon intensity. “South Africa is a coal-based economy with about 77% of electricity generated from coal and a large portion of transportation fuels derived from the same source.


By: Engineering News

Funding provided by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has helped start-up recycling company Mihula Holdings increase its staffing levels to eight people. The IDC in March provided funding to enable Mihula to buy a baler and trucks for collecting raw materials. Mihula, situated in Highveld Industrial Park since July 2018, shreds and bales paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and glass. Mihula CEO Amelia Mkhonza on Friday said the business started in a backyard and, with initial help from the National Youth Development Agency, it was able to buy a shredder and secure more recyclable material from companies in eMalahleni, where the industrial park is based