Defence industry benefits wider South African economy


The world economic scene is in turmoil. Major uncertainties exist in the USA, Greece, Italy, Spain, and of late, France. The disrupting effects spill over into countries where the economies are fairly sound, and economic recovery remains sluggish.

In such circumstances, it is beneficial to be reminded of the positive spin-offs that the defence industry holds for the macro-economy of South Africa.

Pretoria Metal Pressings (PMP) is one of the large business entities in the Denel Group, and is internationally renowned for world-class military and commercial small and medium calibre ammunition. It employs around 1 300 people, exports 30%-40% of its turnover and earns between R200 million and R300 million in foreign exchange annually for South Africa.

Today, representatives from the South African media were hosted by PMP at a media event at its premises to the west of Pretoria.

During his introduction, Carel Wolhuter, CEO of PMP, said that although the company’s main business is military, around 35% of its products are destined for the civilian market.

In most South African homes, there will be products that originate from PMP. These can be electrical components manufactured down-stream from brass strips originating from PMP’s furnaces and rolling mills, or commercial ammunition for self-defence, sport shooting or hunting purposes.

PMP also sells foil strip as thin as 0.05mm to the private sector. This is used in the manufacture of switchgear in electrical applications and industrial heat exchangers. Wolhuter further pointed out that even hospitals and veterinary clinics benefit from the foil strip, as it is used in cladding in sterile environments due to copper’s favourable microbial effects.

A fact that is little known is that PMP is a strategic supplier of primary explosives to Sasol and AEL, from which detonators for the mining industry are manufactured. Eventually, 90% of South Africa’s mines are thus indirectly dependant on successful manufacturing operations at PMP. It is for this reason that a modern explosive facility was opened at PMP on 30 September 2011.