SA firms in R1,6bn deal

THE Chinese Jidong Development Group and two South African companies have signed a R1,65billion agreement to construct the first cement factory in Limpopo.

Women Investment Portfolio Holdings Ltd (Wiphold) and Continental Cement of South Africa (Conticem) - a lime stone mining company - yesterday struck a deal with the China-Africa Development Fund, a subsidiary of Jidong, to construct a plant at Thabazimbi, north-west of Polokwane.

It is part of the agreement struck through the China-South Africa Trade Partnership.

Spokesperson for the Limpopo department of economic development, Joshua Kwapa, said: "More than 600 jobs will be created during the construction phase and 200 permanent jobs thereafter."

Kwapa said more than R800million in foreign investment would be attracted, 45percent of which will be equity investment while the remainder will be for debt.

"The project will significantly increase South Africa's cement production capacity," said Gloria Serobe of Wiphold.

With Limpopo's massive infrastructure backlog and the country's demand for cement increasing, the company projects that it will produce 2500 tons of cement a day.

Jidong impressed the province with its advanced manufacturing technology that is also environmentally friendly. Jidong's chairperson, Zhang Zengguang, said the partners would use the project to transfer skills to local communities.

Conticem chief executive officer Anton Weavind said he believed they had sufficient resources to increase capacity.