Tata may dig into SA mining industry

Indian conglomerate Tata may soon make a foray into South Africa’s lucrative mining industry, a report in India’s Economic Times claimed on Thursday.

The report said the group could team up with one of South Africa’s established mining companies instead of going it alone.

Raman Dhawan, MD of Tata Africa Holdings, told the paper that the company would not like to restrict itself to gold or diamond mining.

“We would like to engage ourselves in all forms of mining. Like in our other businesses here, we would like to partner with an established company in the mining sector too,” Dhawan confirmed.

The group is said to be exploring opportunities to mine chrome, manganese, coal and iron ore in South Africa.

Tata is already constructing a R650-million high-carbon ferrochrome plant in Richards Bay on the KwaZulu-Natal coast, and in May this year its local arm, Tata Africa, said it was considering setting up a vehicle assembly plant in South Africa.

In August, Tata acquired a 35% stake in Riversdale Mining’s Mozambique Coal Project for $86-million.

The project, which would provide coking coal for its plants in Europe and India, was seen as opening the door for Tata to invest in South African coal mines.

Australian-listed Riversdale Mining owns a 74% share of two anthracite projects in South Africa.

Tata Steel currently imports 1,3-million tonnes or 30% of its annual coal requirement, and it has said this could rise to two million tonnes.

The company is on record as saying it was looking to acquire mines abroad.

Last month local financial media reported that Tata Steel was mulling the construction of a five million tonnes-a-year steel plant in South Africa, subject to the availability of iron ore and coal.

This was later denied by Tata Steel, which has its sights set on becoming a 100-million tonne-a-year steel producer.

The company has, however, identified minerals and metals as a growth area and has aspirations to expand this business at global levels.

According to the Economic Times, Tata has already earmarked an investment of $450-million in sectors such as telecoms and ferrochrome in South Africa.

And as the world’s largest producer of platinum group metals, manganese, chrome, gold and vanadium, South Africa would be a good place for the company to strengthen its global presence as well as build on its strategy of progressing towards raw materials security for its global business.

South Africa is also one of the world’s top ten producers of coal, iron ore, aluminium, nickel and uranium.

In a separate announcement on Friday, Tata said Indian software major Tata Consultancy Services was launching in South Africa to strengthen its focus and expand operations in the region. ‒ I-Net Bridge

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