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Man of steel

Filipe Naigulevu
Tuesday, November 07, 2017

A LOCAL manufacturing company hopes to harness the growth in the construction sector with their recent venture into standardised steel production for local and soon export supply.

Gurbachan Singh's Steel Mills Ltd, a steel manufacturing company, has made a lucrative investment in constructing its new major production plant at Lakena in Nausori.

The new facility will see the production of thermo-mechanically-treated steel bars or in short TMT bars among many other steel products for construction use.

According to the company's managing director, Jagjeet Singh, fondly known as Jack, the concept behind the new production facility is to produce quality construction rods out of scrap steel metal.

"We will be processing scrap steel to be processed into construction rods. And these are not just any construction rods but TMT deformed steel bars which have high yield strength," Mr Singh said in an interview with this newspaper.

These bars will be made varying in size from 6mm to 25mm.

"We will also make plain rods, angles and strips from this new plant to be recycled from old scrap steel that we will buy locally."

Mr Singh, however, highlighted should the scrap metal not be sufficient in supply, the company will be complementing with billets, which are ready-made steel blocks that are purchased overseas.

But the process of producing such high quality steel bars requires sophisticated technology and equipment.

Mr Singh said the investment included the purchase of equipment and machinery required for steel production from overseas.

This brings the total investment to about $5 million, he said.

"We will cut the scrap steel into pieces which will be put into an induction furnace.

"This will then be heated up to 1200 degrees Celsius which will make it molten," Mr Singh said.

"This will then be poured and made as moulds to make billets or slabs. It is then again re-heated in the furnace to make it hot again which is later rolled as steel bars."

While the company has eyed supplying the local commercial market, particularly the construction sector, it also has ambitious plan to commence exporting to highly competitive international markets.

"The construction of the steel factory has been completed and we are currently in the processing of trial testing the new machinery and equipment," Mr Singh said.

"The reason why we are doing trial tests is to ensure that we meet standards and qualities that is met overseas."

The 2000sqm steel production plant, which sits on three acre land, was fully boosted last week as electricity supply has finally been installed at the site.

This, Mr Singh said, had been a delaying factor to the project which initially commenced in early 2015.

The new venture will also see more than 100 new and existing staff members being employed including specialists who will be coming in from India and Phillipines to operate the steel plant.

"We are expected to run trials on the November 15 and start full production by mid of December," Mr Singh said.

While the company has set its target of 15,000 tonnes of steel for its annual production capacity, Mr Singh added that this would gradually rise as business advances.

"Our Prime Minister has been emphasising a lot on the environment and the importance of recycling. We see a lot of scrap steel like bulky derelict ships that are lying on the harbour," Mr Singh said.

"With this, we are now ready to buy scrap metal and we will pay them according to the quantity. We intend to buy old ships, fresh cans, car bodies, car chassis and industrial scrap."

The production plant is also expected to officially open in January next year given that trial production and tests run smoothly.

Mr Singh, a businessman from Labasa, has been mainly involved in the manufacturing industry for a number of years with his company specialising in several areas and products.

Apart from his recent steel venture, Gurbachan Singh's Steel Mills Ltd, the company also manufactures PVC pipes, trading tyres, garden hose, water tanks among many others.

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