The South African Metal Casting Industry
The casting industry is an important sector in the manufacturing value chain, as more than 80% of manufactured products used by a variety of different sectors of the economy contain castings. However, the industry has been in decline for a lengthy period, with the number of operational foundries decreasing from 450 in the 1980s to the current figure of 170. Annual production has also declined by approximately 26% since 2003 due in part to the increasing cost of raw materials, particularly scrap metal, and a lack of competitiveness in a global market where over-capacity is a problem.
The combination of the challenges confronting the sector, which has an estimated 10,250 direct and 4,000 indirect employees, resulted in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) establishing the National Foundry Technology Network (NFTN). This aims to spearhead a significant government and industry association-led effort to develop a globally competitive South African casting industry through appropriate skills training, technology transfer, and the application of state-of the-art technologies. However, the competitiveness of the sector is still being threatened by a variety of factors including the influx of cheap imports, rapidly rising electricity and raw material costs, inflexible labour laws and high labour costs as well as the increasing cost of environmental compliance.
The report on the Metal Casting sector discusses the latest developments in the industry and the range of government interventions aimed at stimulating local manufacture. The report also profiles 32 industry players, including Autocast South Africa (Pty) Ltd based in the Eastern Cape, which casts both ferrous and non-ferrous metals at four manufacturing plants and employs 500 people, and Western Cape-based Atlantis Foundries (Pty) Ltd, which employs 1,169 workers and produces 69,000 tonnes of ferrous castings annually.