13 May 2008
The provincial government and private investors are to open a gold jewellery manufacturing facility worth R100-million in Kimberley, in the Northern Cape, in an effort to ensure that more value is added to precious metals locally, with finished products destined for export markets.
The Gold Chain Technology project, focussing on the production of gold and silver chains, will progressively escalate its production and employment. It is expected that in four years time, an estimated 300 people will be employed and the factory will process a total of three tons of gold and five tons of silver.
The project is a partnership between the provincial government, black economic empowerment partner Solandra and Q-Quality, an Italian company that will contribute skills, technology and access to markets.
“This initiative will focus on mass chain production for the export market – specifically the United States,” said the Northern Cape Premier’s office in a statement, with the initiative being part of the country’s diamond strategy and drive for beneficiation in South Africa.
The project is also funded by Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and financially supported by the Augusta-Westland, which supplied helicopters as part of the South African arms deal.
“The impact of this project will have a tremendous influence on the Northern Cape as well as the national economy and has the potential to expand and to compliment existing and new ventures,” the statement read, adding that the initiative would contribute positively towards the country’s gross domestic product and trade balance.
“This is a key opportunity for facilitating empowerment in the jewellery manufacturing sector, while continuing regional development among the poorest communities in this country,” said Abel Malinga of IDC’s mining strategic business unit.
Gold Chain Technology said it will have trained 460 people in jewellery manufacturing and design within five years and achieve sales knocking on R1-billion annually within five years.
“The bulk of the skills will be transferred from Italian technicians to locals with several future trainers acquiring machinery and equipment training in Italy,” the organisation said.
Furthermore, the provincial government and diamond mining giant De Beers are to establish an academy to promote the jewellery profession in the province, with students from the academy being employed by the Gold Chain Technology project.
The move will provide South Africa with a foothold into the lucrative world jewellery market. Currently annual gold retailing is a R450-billion industry, with demand topping 2 800 tons.
Principle consumers include India (25%), the US (18%) and China (12%) with the major producers being India (19%), Italy (10%) and Turkey (9%).