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Southern Africa’s first Jewellery Manufacturing Precinct fully open for business

In construction since the latter part of 2018, the OR Tambo International Airport SEZ Precinct 1 officially opened all its doors during the month of March 2024.

This milestone, which marked the end of OR Tambo SEZ Precinct 1’s development, was celebrated at an event attended by key government leaders, investors, tenants and stakeholder partners. The commemoration followed similar occasions held in April 2019, when the second largest food factory of its kind became operational and again in February 2023, when a building that houses Pluczenik, a Belgian investor, was unveiled in the presence of key dignitaries including King Philippe of Belgium.

In addition to the building openings marked on other occasions, two other buildings have been operational at the Zone since 2020; these include a precious metals refinery as well as an administrative building where national regulatory agencies are located.

These agencies, viz. the South African Diamonds and Precious Metals Regulator (SADPMR) and the State Diamond Trader (SDT) are mandated with providing regulatory guidance and oversight of the minerals industry in South Africa as well as promoting equitable access to, and beneficiation of, the country’s diamond resources respectively. Their presence at the Zone contributes to efficient operations by the manufacturers, who must, on a regular basis engage with the agencies on issues of licensing, raw material access and exporting.

To herald the end of Precinct 1’s development, the six remaining buildings were completed, bringing to a successful realisation the objective set by the Gauteng Provincial Government to establish a globally competitive mineral beneficiation cluster – next to Africa’s largest and busiest airport.

King Philippe of Belgium at the opening of the Pluczenik Factory at OR Tambo SEZ in February 2023.

This vision, which gives impetus to South Africa’s mineral beneficiation strategy, was conceptualised in support of the objective to contribute to the country’s re-industrialization: By facilitating enhanced value-addition of minerals mined in South Africa, which continue to be exported in their raw form, resulting in the export of jobs to other countries that add the value.

To counter this and in recognition of South Africa’s mineral endowments, development of a globally competitive mineral beneficiation industrial park supported by a sector nuanced manufacturing eco-system comprised of different role players within proximity to each other (thereby enhancing operational efficiencies) was birthed.

In acknowledgement of the competitive location of the OR Tambo International Airport SEZ – next to sub-Saharan Africa’s largest and busiest airport – manufacturing activities at the first Phase of the SEZ also include a fresh food production. This is because the food system has the ability to employ a large number of people, supporting the country’s objective to create much needed job opportunities.

It is no mistake therefore, that the anchor on the northern side of ORTIA Precinct 1 is a premium fresh food producer with the capacity to package more than 1 400 food products.

Pause area at the In2food Bonaero Facility.

Unpacking ORTIA Precinct 1: Fresh food and jewellery and diamond manufacturing

Globally Competitive Food Processing Operations

ORTIA Precinct 1 comprises 63 000 square metres of developed space. This includes a 22 735 square metre food processing facility that became operational in 2019.

Described as the largest and most diverse ultra-fresh food facility of its kind in the southern hemisphere, In2food Bonaero as it is known, accommodates food preparation, storage, office areas as well as a canteen, showers and a medical clinic.

The Bonaero industrial operations boast an impressive refrigeration and PV system that reduces demand on the grid. In addition, all water sources are monitored through a comprehensive building management system. Because of all this, In2food Bonaero is one of the few industrial facilities in South Africa that has achieved 4-star green accreditation and net-zero carbon level 1 certification, setting the benchmark for other industrial developments.

Since its opening, this facility has created over 2 500 operational jobs and has also supported and promoted emerging farmers that provide inputs to the facility for value addition.

The In2food Group production facility. Photo: Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA)
Globally Dynamic Mineral Beneficiation Cluster

The remaining part of the Precinct is where the Jewellery and Diamond Manufacturing Cluster is located.

Comprised of over 40 000 square metres of developed space, the JMP, as it is known is home to 19 different companies that share similar characteristics and operating requirements. These include a precious metal refinery, diamond cutting and polishing companies, jewellery manufacturers, diamond trading entities, a skills hub as well as regulatory agencies that support the industry.

In addition, sector-specific service providers that support in high-level security requirements inclusive of the movement of goods-to-air side also form part of the development.

Enhanced connection and collaboration in mineral beneficiation

The location of like-minded businesses at the Precinct is an intentional move by the OR Tambo SEZ aimed at ensuring that the mineral beneficiation cluster functions competitively and efficiently. This is because worldwide, the cluster approach to economic development has been shown to not just foster industrial development, but also promote connection and collaboration, leading to increased creativity and productivity.

It is anticipated that through this approach, minerals mined and beneficiated in South Africa for global consumption will increase.

The next frontier: ORTIA Precinct 2 and the Springs Precinct

With the completion of ORTIA Precinct 1, focus of the SEZ’s development is on ORTIA Precinct 2, a 29 ha land parcel projected to have 250 000 square metres of developable space and the Springs Precinct, a 13 ha land parcel projected to have 45 000 square metres of developable space.

In lieu of their individual competitive locations, each precinct is positioned to promote the production and export of products best suited to their locations. ORTIA Precinct 2, located a stone’s throw away from ORTIA Precinct 1 and OR Tambo International Air Cargo, is ideally positioned for mineral-beneficiated products, pharmaceutical and health products, electronics and other just-in-time products such as fresh food.

The Springs Precinct is ideally located for fuel cells, electrolysers, capital equipment as well as mining equipment. This is because the Springs Precinct is competitively located in proximity to a Platinum Refinery, making it ideal for the production of Platinum-related products.

Jewellery exhibited at the JMP opening in March 2024.

Available opportunities

OR Tambo SEZ is open to interest from companies manufacturing for export in the sectors identified for location at ORTIA Precinct 2 or Springs Precinct.

Construction on the precincts (both are greenfield) is anticipated to commence in the latter part of 2024.

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