07-04-2011 – A R30 million Butterworth granite mining and processing project is expected to take off this month with trial mining and it is likely...

07-04-2011 

A R30 million Butterworth granite mining and processing project is expected to take off this month with trial mining and it is likely to boost manufacturing and logistics in the Eastern Cape.

The province’s premier development agency, the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), has thrown its weight behind the granite project injecting over R1,5 million into feasibility studies and trial mining. This amount is made up of R530 000 towards a feasibility study and R990 000 for a trial mine and a test quarry.

The granite project which is led by Bold Moves, has already discovered four variants of granite in the Butterworth area which have never been mined before.

An exisitng granite market

Bold Moves has obtained the mining permit and has concluded the sampling and drilling process.  The company aims to sell granite block internationally, granite slabs locally and intends to set up a processing factory in Butterworth, which is expected to have major spin offs for the economy.

“This is a greenfields project. Although granite mining was done in the Centani area in the past, it has never been done in Butterworth. We estimate that 383, 000 cubic kilometres of granite is there.

“The envisaged market for the granite is the United States while in the second phase of the project, a factory to manufacture memorial stones, counter tops, building blocks will be set up near Butterworth,” says Bold Moves owner Monde Tabata.

Tabata says the project should enhance economic activity and logistics in the area through granite block exports from the mines via Eastern Cape ports.

Export potential

“We’ve already tested the samples and have a major player in the industry that is responsible for international sales of South African granite. Exporting through the East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) would be first prize, or as an alternative, the Coega IDZ. The Eastern Cape is my home and this business must be a catalyst for economic activity here. In that way we will also minimise costs to our clients,” Tabata says.

Tabata says while it has been a challenge to attract commercial funding as banks are reluctant to take on risk, development financiers are crucial to ensuring that such projects take off.

“Without ECDC, it would probably be difficult to do business. Commercial banks would not have given me the finance that ECDC has put forward,” explains Tabata.

Community ownership    

He says the community including the chieftaincy, women as well as Zagwityi and Mgagasi communities in the Amasaleleni locality around the mine are set to get 20, 5 percent of the business.

Tabata says the community empowerment component of the project is structured to avoid potential conflict and manage dynamics within the communities’ social structure.

“In this business, you undermine rural communities at your peril. They might not be educated or know the technical language, but they’re smart and they know what they want,” Tabata says.

Nine skilled, three semi skilled and three casual workers are to be employed in the mine while most jobs will be created through spin offs.

Tabata has made his mark in South Africa’s business landscape as director Peermont Hotels, of which he was co-founder and managing director of Primedia’s sport division Megapro.

He has held a number of top positions including chief executive of National Small Business Council, chairmanof East Rand Youth and Children’s Trusts, director and deputy chief executive at Megapro Marketing in an illustrious career spanning construction, youth development, sport, gaming and hospitality.

His acclaim in business circles recently culminated in an honourary doctorate from Monash University SA, (an Australia university), in recognition for his contribution in business.

By SIYA MITI

 

News editor