- Published on 07 February 2007
At the opening of the Heraeus precious metals refinery Port Elizabeth
Ladies and gentlemen
The launch of this refinery today represents for us one of the many highlights in our relationship with Heraeus. This is a relationship which has developed over many years, in fact since the inception of our platinum mine, Northam, up in the Limpopo Province. Matthias, I must congratulate you, your contractors and suppliers and your colleagues today – what you have achieved here in only 18 months is remarkable.
And to Roland Gerner and your colleagues in Germany, to Friedhelm, Matthias and your team here in Port Elizabeth, I wish to pay tribute to you and your organization. Your faith in Northam in those early days has made a solid contribution to the development of Northam, the subsequent creation of jobs, the development of infrastructure and communities - in what was in those days a remote and isolated area of the country. As a mid-tier platinum producing company, we now employ some 8000 people in one of the more impoverished areas of the country.
It is therefore particularly gratifying for us that Heraeus, one of the world’s largest precious metal manufacturing companies, has reaffirmed this faith in our country, our company, and the prospects for our long term future.
Large-scale development, such as we see here today, is inevitably associated with contributions from a number of players, and my thanks go to all of you today. The spirit of co-operation and the will to succeed with this project – from all the roleplayers, augurs well for the future economic development in the country, and indeed in this province. I must make particular mention of Mintek, the DME and the DTI. This has been an excellent collaborative effort, one which I believe, will contribute to an enabling environment for other smaller players to enter this exciting sector of the economy.
For us, the realization of this project (which has been in the pipeline for a number of years) creates an opportunity to make a percentage of our metal available for local downstream beneficiation initiatives, something we have always believed in and sought to pursue. The subsequent promulgation of the Mining Charter has brought its own imperatives for beneficiation. In line with the spirit of this Charter, we now have an excellent opportunity to make our metal available to local industries, both established and fledgling companies. In our strategic intent document, both Northam and Heraeus have articulated a commitment to building local intellectual capital – and to this end discussions have been initiated with a number of scientific, research and educational institutions to further the technological capabilities of our country and our people.
To conclude - I would like to quote from Northam’s chairman Alan Wright’s, opening address at the official inauguration of the mine 14 year ago in January 1993, a gathering at which Dr Jurgen Heraeus was himself present: “I should like to refer particularly to the occasion in 1988 when Dr Heraeus publicly welcomed me at a function in Frankfurt hosted by the Heraeus organization. The signing of the agreement between our two companies was announced at this function at which were present customers from many parts of the world.”
He went on to say: “This kind of positive interaction between business communities of different countries creates incentives for large capital investment programmes and provides jobs – a critical area if we wish to stabilize the socio-economic, and consequently, the political situation in our country as we move into the South Africa of tomorrow.”
Ladies and gentlemen, with those prophetic words, spoken in 1993, I would now like to hand you over to Dr Roland Gerner, Managing Director of Heraeus.