AGNI Steels SA this week fired up its furnaces to start production at its R400-million, state- of-the-art steel mill in the Coega Industrial Development Zone.
Agni Steels’ venture is the first ever black-owned steel mill in the country and is a testament to the value of the Minerals Beneficiation Bill passed in 2011.
In celebration of the milestone, the Agni Steels India directors were in South Africa to oversee the “switching on” moment.
Shenbagavalli Ramji, Chinasammi Sakthi and Kugalur Ilangovan, the sons of the original Agni Steels India founders and directors R Krishnamurthy, M Chinnasami and K Thanga- velu, were in South Africa to mark the occasion – and to ensure that everything ran according to plan. The firing up of the plant is the fruition of over eight years of hard work that started as “a dream”, Ramji said. The three from India are young entrepreneurs following in their fathers’ footsteps in Africa. Their fathers were the first to set up a steel mill in India in 1992.
The Agni Steels South Africa venture is their first on their own as directors, in partnership with the three South African directors: Sharaz Khan, Hassan Khan and Dhiroshan Moodley.
“We are very proud at this moment and we are enjoying it for the joyous celebration it should be. We are of course thankful to the South African directors for giving us the opportunity, to Coega for their help and association, and to the Industrial Development Corporation for their support and belief in us,” Ilangovan said. “This is not a small thing we have achieved.
“Our SA partners have persisted following a dream spanning over eight years – a dream where the financial forecasts fluctuate, the export market changes due to currency variation and the whole business plan takes on a new shape almost a decade later.”
The smelter will produce mild steel billets from scrap metal, initially for export to India and other African countries.
The Agni Steels project has already spurred the development of business in the Eastern Cape by purchasing vast volumes of scrap metal from scrap dealers across the province.
Agni employs 165 peopleand will employ more this week. – Business Reporter