Exxaro's Grootgeluk coal operations west of Lephalale, Limpopo

The mining sector continues to attract significant investments into Limpopo Province while agri-processing, tourism and energy are the other key sectors where new assets are being developed.

Limpopo in 2018 signed Memorandums of Understanding with the Chinese province of Henan. The focus of these MOUs is in the fields of mining, agriculture, tourism and human resource development. Similar agreements were signed with four Namibian regions.

Northam Platinum and Haraeus Precious Metals collectively put R900-million into a large expansion of smelter capacity at the Zondereinde mine just south of Thabazimbi early in 2018. (The photograph shows the president of Haraeus Precious Metals, André Christl, and Paul Dunne, the CEO of Northam, in front of the smelter.)

The Musina-Mukhado Special Economic Zone (SEZ) announced shortly after this that Chinese investors had committed to a range of investments into the zone, which is located near the border with Zimbabwe and near to several large mines. Mining-related activity will form an important component of the SEZ, as it will at the other planned SEZ, near Tubatse in the east, where the platinum mines of large miners like Implats are located and South Africa’s only copper producer, Palabora Mining Company, has a mine, a smelter and a refinery.

In agri-processing, a tomato paste plant was relaunched near Tzaneen by Dursots-All Joy, and many of the big producers continue to spend money rolling out new facilities. This is also a sector where the supply chain is used by large retailers to support the establishment of new local businesses.

Polokwane has recently welcomed a new 160-room hotel, the Park Inn by Radisson Polokwane, and the Industrial Development Corporation is engaged with investors in Tzaneen and other parts of the province to roll out more accommodation options, including lodges.

The massive new coal-fired power plant under construction at Lephalale will form the centre of an energy hub once it is complete, and coal miners will continue to invest in order to feed this, and other power stations. The renewable energy field is also attracting interest in Limpopo.

The Limpopo Economic Development Agency (LEDA) is the key driver of the provincial government’s drive to boost the economy through investment. LEDA is an agency of the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (DEDET), which in turn has a number of units which focus on specific aspects of the agency’s brief:

  • Risima Housing and Finance Corporation: access to housing finance and adding value in rural areas
  • Limpopo Connexion: promoting and developing the ICT sector to enable citizens to be connected and to make for smoother business operations
  • Enterprise Development and Finance Division: financial and business support and training and mentoring offered to new businesses or businesses wanting to expand.

LEDA’s overall brief is to contribute to accelerated industrialisation in Limpopo by stimulating and diversifying the industrial base of the regional economy.

The focus is on high-impact projects that will spark growth in a variety of sectors and create employment opportunities.

Among the roles of LEDA are to assist investors and to encourage trade in and out of the province. Other key tasks are:

  • to do research,
  • to identify and package development opportunities,
  • to leverage partnerships,
  • to support priority sectors,
  • to coordinate and manage the implementation of strategic infrastructure and economic interventions.
Contact LEDA

In the last of these roles, LEDA has identified two two key strategic areas of focus, both of which have to do with land and land planning:

  • Special Economic Zones and Corridor Development: development within the province is being directed to specific areas where economies of scale and logistics can best be leveraged
  • Land, property and infrastructure development: as these targeted areas grow, so the infrastructure and associated industries will act as a magnet for businesses and industries in the same sector, and businesses that exist to service that businesses and industrial enterprises. By the same token, care should be taken that areas chosen for future residential, industrial or commercial development must be suitable and fall in line with plans for the rolling out of infrastructure.

The Provincial Government of Limpopo and its agencies, in partnerships with national government and some private companies, is putting resources into these key aspects of the province’s economic infrastructure. There is an awareness that investment can only happen were water, energy and ICT can be relied on, and where the logistics exercise for getting supplies in and products out is efficient.

Strategic infrastructure

The province has identified specific kinds of strategic economic infrastructure as key to attracting investors. These are:

  • water
  • energy
  • ICT
  • freight and logistics.

As will be seen in the 2018-19 edition Limpopo Business journal, there is work going on in rolling out broadband to remote parts of the province and serious discussions are taking place with big users of energy and water.

Freight and logistics is also very much in the spotlight with the SEZs, particularly the Musina-Mukhado SEZ.

Areas identified for particular kinds of investment are:
Economic cluster:
Identified area:
Agri-processing and horticultureMolemole, Thohoyandou, Elias Motsoaledi, Ephraim Mogale, Modimolle
Horticulture and forestryMakhado, Tzaneen, Greater Letaba, Maruleng
LogisticsPolokwane, Musina (SEZ)
Mining: diamondsMusina (SEZ)
Mining: platinumMokopane, Thabazimbi, Tubatse (and chrome: SEZ)
Mining: coalMakhado, Lephalale (and energy)
Mining: copper and magnetiteBa-Phalaborwa
Tourism and meat productionAll districts within Limpopo

Source: Limpopo Development Plan Summary Document

For more information, read the 2018-19 edition Limpopo Business e-book here:

Limpopo Business 2018-19 edition