Planned Metallurgical plant

Support from the Thabazimbi Municipality

THABAZIMBI – A councillor of the Thabazimbi Municipality, Patricia Mosito, expressed her support for the proposed metallurgical plant on Smokey Mountain at a public participation meeting, despite the fact that the Municipality’s Spatial Development Framework (SDF) earmarks that area for tourism.
The area for the proposed plant on the farm Cornwell, also known as Smokey Mountain, is situated to left of the Lephalale road, between 10 and 15 km out of Thabazimbi, close to the Vliegepoort Mountains.

Cornwall forms boundaries with or lies in close proximity to the farms Mecklenberg, Rotterdam, Hartbeesbult, Kuduvlei, Leeuwbosch, Kwa Mitsuri, Vlakplaas and Doornhoek. To the eastern side one or two farms and developments north of Kwaggasvlakte road, such as Komma Nader and Marakele Estate, separate Cornwall from Marakele National Park.

The meeting left some with the feeling that, notwithstanding the objections, the steel plant will go ahead. The developer and consultants were optimistic that the plant will be completed within a year’s time.

The approval for this kind of development, however, is a complicated process and includes many applications and obtaining comments from different institutions. Written objections will have to be heeded. Approval is needed from the Department of Environment Affairs as well as for the Planning Application. Comment or approval would also have to be obtained from the Municipality, Water Affairs and Agriculture. Ultimately the decision will probably be made by a DFA (Development Facilitation Act) tribunal based on the recommendations of various role players, as well as specialist reports.
The public participation meeting, which forms part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process, took place on Saturday12 March in Regorogile and was presented by Ugwa Consulting for South African Steel Company (SASCO).

The meeting was well supported especially by the ANC Youth League. Landowners affected by the development, and representatives from Marakele National Park, Aquila Steel and the Thabazimbi Municipality also attended the meeting.

It was more or less unanimously agreed that the plant has huge job creation potential. According to the developer it is anticipated that 2 000 jobs will be made available through the plant. Some of these positions might initially be filled by qualified people not necessarily from the Thabazimbi area.

The point was raised that although the benefits of the plant was acknowlegded, the decision of its intended position, a rural, fairly pristine area, was questioned. The owner of SASCO, who is also the owner of the farm Cornwall, Alan Tavakolli, admitted at the meeting that he bought the farm for the purpose of erecting a metallurgical plant on the farm.

In a document, the Spatial Development Framework, which was developed for the Thabazimbi Municipality as guideline for future land use developments, this area is not recommended for industrial use.

A subsequent plan for the area, the Waterberg Environmental Management Framework (WEMF), which is currently being approved by the Waterberg District Municipality, was submitted for approval with the blessing of the local municipalities it served. In this plan the area on which the plant will be erected falls in Zone 2, which  is earmarked for more environmentally friendly developments.

During the discussion of the water availability, the developer indicated that an estimated 900 000 litres of water per year will be needed for the plant. The plan is to build a lined dam and to recycle the water. Initially boreholes will be drilled and at a later stage water will be obtained from the town through pipelines. The provision of town water to the plant was confirmed by councillor Mosito.

Tavakolli presented himself to the meeting as a trained metallurgical engineer originating from Iran, but who considers himself a local, having lived in South Africa for many years.