Swaziland Overview

Published by Swazi Review of Commerce & Industry (Pty) Ltd

Manucaturing
Swaziland manufacturing, commerce and mining

Growing our business: the new wet-off-saw production line at Montigny Usutu © Montigny Group

Government’s Programme of Action to 2018 envisages substantially accelerated growth in small , medium and micro-scale enterprises, thereby giving rise to increased taxes and duties arising from faster economic growth and a reliable source of revenue. The Minister of Finance, Martin Dlamini, made budget allocations totalling more than E182-million to four specific initiatives for the 2014/15 fiscal year.

In his Budget Speech Minister Dlamini reiterated government’s belief that the under-construction Biotechnology Park and Innovation Park will, upon their completion, be cutting-edge facilities, together providing the necessary base for building a knowledge-based economy in Swaziland. When allocating a total of E146-million to the continued implementation of these projects during 2014/15, he said that construction of the basic infrastructure in support of the parks - access roads, electricity, water and telephone networks – should thereby be completed by the end of this fiscal year.

The Finance Minister then said that another of government’s priorities is to continue to strengthen the capacity of the Swaziland Competition Commission so that it can discharge its mandate effectively. He stressed a commitment to promoting an effective competitive process in the economy, one that will result in good services and products, reasonable prices and a robust economy. Through vigorously enforcing the Competition Act of 2007, government will continue to fight against cartel conduct that results in price-hikes to the detriment of the consumers, a sluggish economy and the exit of SMMEs from the market. Minister Dlamini allocated E3.9-million for this purpose during 2014/15.

He then told Parliament and the nation that to ensure affordable factory space for investors, the Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority (SIPA) was fully engaged in the factory shell programme initiated during the previous review period. Come the onset of 2014, SIPA had begun constructing two new factory shells at Matsapha and commenced with the expansion of three existing factory shells at Matsapha, Matsanjeni and Nhlangano, respectively. Minister Dlamini allocated a total of E28-million to the overall initiative for 2014/15.

REAL GDP DEVELOPMENTS

The Central Bank of Swaziland (CBS) stated in its 2013/14 Annual Report that the secondary sector was estimated to have accelerated by 4.2 percent during the period in review, compared to 0.5 percent in the previous year. The manufacturing sector grew by 2.5 percent during 2013/14, compared to 0.2 percent in 2012/13, mainly driven by increased production of zippers, soft-drink concentrates and beverages, timber products, fruit-cups and increased production lines among manufacturing companies.

However, growth in the manufacturing sector could have been higher, were it not for muted growth in sugar production that suffered the effects of poor quality cane due to heavy rains during the harvesting period. On the positive side, the heavy rains benefited domestic hydropower generation, resulting in a 12.7 percent increase in the sub-sector of ‘Electricity, Gas and Water Supply’ in 2013/14: this was a substantial recovery from the 5.8 percent decline witnessed during the previous reporting season. ‘Wholesale and Retail Trade’ contributed to the tertiary sector being estimated to have grown by 3.2 percent in 2013/14, improving from 2.5 percent in 2012/13.

According to the CBS, medium-term growth prospects will be mainly reliant on developments in the export sector: the new Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) – signed on 15 July 2014 - supports a sizeable proportion of total exports which are destined for the EU market, including sugar, meat, citrus and forestry products, among others. Had the Southern African Development Community EPA Group of countries not met the EU’s end-September 2014 deadline for ratification of the trade pact, Swaziland’s duty- and quota-free exports to the EU would thereafter have lost their preferential status and attracted prohibitive, financially debilitating import duties. Not only has the EPA allayed the concerns of Swaziland’s traditional sugar-, beef- and citrus-buying clients in the EU, but it also provides much needed certainty going forward, whereby both the customer-base and the spectrum of exported products can be broadened. Thus, said the CBS, the preservation of trading agreements with the EU will be critical for growth.

SUGAR

The EPA’s benefits were evinced soon after its ratification when the Swaziland Sugar Association (SSA), which is the industry’s marketing agency and responsible for all domestic and global negotiations and undertakings, shipped to Spain, duty-free, the biggest single consignment in its 47-year history – 40 000 tonnes - and signed an agreement that will see an even larger volume – 50 000 tonnes - shipped to Finland over the next two years.

Figures provided by the SSA to the CBS showed that sugar production during the 2013/14 cropping season decreased marginally – by 0.7 percent – to 653 337 tonnes from the 658 137 tonnes produced during the previous year. Heavy rains during the peak months for harvesting caused delays in both the harvesting and haulage of cane: this negatively impacted upon the quality of cane delivered to the mills, resulting in relatively poor sucrose and sugar yields.

In line with this decrease in production, total sugar sales fell by 2.9 percent in the 2013/14 marketing season. Export sales to the EU market decreased by 6.7 percent year-on-year to 339 250 tonnes from the record high of the 2012/13 marketing season’s 363 666 tonnes. Penetration of the EU market was marginalised by oversupply of ‘world’ sugar during the period in review. Despite lower volume sales and depressed EU sugar prices, export receipts increased by 21.3 percent year-on-year from E1.8-billion to E2.2-billion in 2013/14. This noteworthy surge in export receipts benefited from a weak exchange rate against the Euro: on average, the Lilangeni/Rand depreciated by 21.6 percent against that particular currency during the period in review.

Sales to the domestic (Southern African Customs Union, SACU) market rose slightly – by 1.9 percent – to 307 918 tonnes in 2013/14 from 302 043 tonnes sold during the previous season. Domestic sales were, however, 30 000 tonnes less than targeted because of an influx of low-cost Brazilian sugar into the SACU market that served to constrain Swazi sugar volumes originally destined for this market. Domestic sales revenue amounted to E1.662-billion in the 2013/14 marketing season, from the previous year’s E1.575-billion.

The CBS said in its annual report that prospects for the sugar industry are mixed. Production is expected to increase, buoyed by increased sugarcane production as a result of the expansion of area under cane, mainly within the precincts of the Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project. The area under sugarcane (see Agriculture) is projected to increase by 607 ha, with an anticipated increase in yields; sugar production is projected to increase by four percent in 2014/15. On the marketing side, international sugar prices are expected to decrease in the medium-term, mainly due to over-supply of sugar from the major producers, Brazil and India. The decreases in world sugar prices would also inevitably affect the preferential EU market prices and thereby affect sales returns. On the positive side, exchange rate movements will also be an important factor in the 2014/15 marketing season: sustained depreciation of the Lilangeni/Rand against major trading currencies will somewhat cushion returns from non-SACU sales.

In late September the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (RSSC) disclosed an upcoming investment of about E1.5-billion in the expansion of one of its two mills, that at Mhlume. RSSC MD, Nick Jackson, stated in the Corporation’s latest Annual Integrated Report that the development will increase the mill’s capacity to crush cane from 350 to 550 tonnes cane per hour, allowing the RSSC Group to ensure that all cane is crushed during the season.

VALUE-ADDED TIMBER

The CBS in its Annual Report to March 2014 described prospects for the timber sector as ‘bright’ and cited continuous investment towards value-addition, including the manufacture of fine finished products. In July 2014 the long-established local timber producer, Montigny Investments Limited (Montigny), with the kingdom’s Public Service Pensions Fund and the Swaziland National Provident Fund taking equity stakes therein, purchased SAPPI Usuthu Forest Products Company (Usuthu) for E1-billion: the seller’s pulp manufacturing operations – for decades a substantial earner of foreign exchange for Swaziland – were in the wake of 2008’s catastrophic forest fires and plummeting world demand/prices no longer viable and shut down in 2010.

While the forestry-related implications of the sale are detailed in Agriculture, Montigny has also begun the process of converting SAPPI’s redundant pulp-mill site into the largest integrated timber milling and processing factory estate in Southern Africa. The initiative is foreseen to require an additional E500-million investment: it will include large, diversified structural and wet-off-saw mills, dry-mill and residue-board manufacturing, and additionally create downstream timber value-add opportunities. Montigny currently processes and trades in excess of 700 000 tonnes per annum, of which 70 000 is value-added. The latter facet was recently enhanced by the addition to the Group’s headquarters site at Nhlangano of a chipping plant that has facilitated the utilisation of waste products from the various mills: approximately half of each tree was previously ‘lost’ during the planking process.

Montigny’s client-base now includes the planking industry (for both industrial and fine-carpentry use), pallet users, the mining industry, charcoal consumers, paper manufacturers, furniture makers and construction companies. Value-add manufacturing has thus played a significant role in Montigny’s growth over the past 17 years from a small sawmill supplying timber to one mine into a multi-faceted organization with an annual turnover of E800-million. The Group’s quality output and competitive pricing see about 45 percent of its products being exported to markets in South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Mozambique and Japan. Montigny says that with the purchase of Usuthu and the advent of the new factory estate, it will by 2019 be processing in excess of a million tonnes of timber per year.

AGRO-PROCESSING/COMMERCE

Government’s Programme of Action to 2018 lists adding value to primary produce as a key strategy going forward: it states that the EU’s ongoing financial support for agro-processing activity will enable government to continue rolling out training and cash assistance to encourage this important aspect of the economy. Speaking at a donor-hosted function during this review period, the Minister of Agriculture, Moses Vilakati, said that through the Marketing Investment Fund (MIF) of the wide-ranging Swaziland Agricultural Development Programme, some two dozen agro-processing entrepreneurs and businesses had thus far been empowered.

As of 2015 the EU begins the disbursement of its newest aid package - €40 million for the coming six years – and the MIF’s share thereof is foreseen to further boost beneficiaries’ enterprises, improve and strengthen the linkages of smallholder farmers for their produce, and enhance access to both local and international markets. Minister Vilakati disclosed the creation of an Agribusiness Unit to ensure the sustainability and expansion of the initiative through follow-up training, monitoring and evaluation of the various undertakings. 

EQUAL FOOTING

The Competition Act of 2007 regulates all types of market conduct that traditionally warrant scrutiny under established competition laws, including anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant market position and mergers. To implement the provisions of the Act, policymakers established the Swaziland Competition Commission (SCC) www.compco.co.sz as an independent agency charged with implementing measures to increase market transparency and consumer welfare, investigating violations of the Act as well as reviewing and controlling mergers.

SCC CEO, Thabisile Langa, said in her introduction to the organization’s 2014 Newsletter that it is well established that competition policy has played, and continues to play, a fundamental role in the economic growth of developed nations. As Swaziland continues to pursue strategic trade liberalisation and further integration into the regional and multilateral economic system, government has made strong commitments to policy reforms necessary to support long-term economic growth based on dynamic entrepreneurship and market-driven innovation. Equally important are efforts to promote consumer welfare and social stability, which are an indispensable feature of a robust market economy.

Swaziland is striving to develop such an economy and improve the competitiveness of its markets: the successful implementation of the country’s new competition-regulation regime is critical to enabling competent and adequate prosecution of local and region-wide anti-competitive market practices that may jeopardise the benefits of economic liberalisation and impede achievement of the goals of the Poverty Reduction Strategy and Action Plan (PRSAP). In addition, the national competition regulation framework should significantly enhance the benefits of the ongoing trade and investment liberalisation efforts of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

The SCC CEO pointed out in her remarks that during the last decade, Swaziland has taken a number of vital policy steps designed to bolster the country’s socioeconomic development prospects. She said that while Swaziland has made notable progress in bringing its policy and legal framework to support its transition to a fully robust market economy, the kingdom continues to be negatively affected by systemic anti-competitive market practices occurring at both the local and regional level. A number of recent studies by the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Trade Organization have illustrated the substantial damage of anti-competitive practices on economies in the SADC region, particularly with regard to price-fixing arrangements, among other issues: Langa said that such anti-competitive practices undermine national economic growth and constrain productivity.

She concluded by stating that fundamentally, all anti-competitive practices restrict output, increase prices and reduce consumer welfare: if left unaddressed, they will undoubtedly inhibit Swaziland’s ambitious development efforts set forth in the PRSAP, frustrate any attempts at increasing the competitiveness of national markets and impair adequate protection of domestic consumers. A vibrant economy, she said, depends on companies that compete fairly and the involvement of consumers who make the right choices and steer businesses to innovate and reduce costs, resulting in higher quality goods and services.

Think-tanks
During this review period the SCC participated in the fifth annual African Consumer Protection Dialogue (ACPD) conference in Zambia: themed ‘Moving Cross-border Collaboration Forward’, the gathering’s main objectives were to share experiences among consumer protection agencies and establish relationships that will be useful in addressing consumer issues which have recently taken a more global turn. The importance of collaborating with NGOs to conduct consumer education initiatives was highlighted, as was the importance of collaborating with sector regulators such as ICT authorities. The participation of criminal law enforcement agencies was said to be helpful with regard to the latest developments in striving to combat the worldwide plague of cyber-crime.

The SCC CEO said that it was imperative for the organization to attend this forum for the purposes of exchanging knowledge and adopting the best international practices utilised by other competition and consumer protection agencies. She said it was hoped that the SCC will benchmark its own consumer education and protection initiatives based on the experiences of its peer agencies.

At the Regional Merger Analysis Workshop in Pretoria, the SCC joined 10 other Southern African competition agencies and the COMESA Competition Commission in an exercise to develop case handlers’ practical and substantive skills for merger reviews. The workshop provided an overview of international best practices for merger review procedures and merger analyses recommended by the International Competition Network (ICN). It was further emphasised that competition authorities must remain transparent in their operations: this involves ensuring that the parties are aware of time periods for investigations as well as maintaining consistence in reviewing mergers. Participants were trained in various economic tools useful to merger analysis and given the opportunity to apply the lessons learnt to a hypothetical merger exercise.

CEO Langa said that such workshops and training exercises continue to be of great importance to the SCC as a relatively new authority: she said that it was one of the many avenues whereby the organization trains staff, as well as ensure that internal procedures are in line with international best practices.

OPPORTUNITY & QUALITY

Mid-2014 saw the Small Enterprise Development Company (SEDCO) joined in its ‘One Household One Product’ (OHOP) campaign by the Swaziland Standards Authority (SWASA) to ensure that participants in one of the country’s leading poverty-alleviation vehicles are fully trained in quality standards. SEDCO Marketing Manager, Fanelwako Fakudze, said on behalf of Managing Director, Dorrington Matiwane, that OHOP is a path to realising Vision 2022. As such, the Company will persevere tirelessly in its endeavour to make even the most far-flung communities aware of the campaign: wealth-creation, it was said, can be the outcome of households starting projects under OHOP, as it has been proved that SMMEs contribute immensely to the growth of any country’s economy. As the development of such grassroots enterprises is thus deemed essential, SEDCO pointed out that it has ensured easy access to its services through branches in nine strategic locations around the country, reinforced by monthly road-shows.

SWASA Director, Lomkhosi Mkhonta, explained that the parastatal had teamed up with SEDCO to educate and train households because meeting the required quality standards for their particular output is essential for the growth of SMMEs. She said that for any fledgling producer to expand to new and bigger clients it has to abide by certain standards, and conforming to them will instil confidence among the existing and potential client-base.

She announced that since inception about seven years ago, SWASA has developed 160 national standards in the various sectors of business: this was attributed to the Authority having developed a crop of seasoned standards writers, advisors and certification auditors. SWASA was thus poised to apply for the accreditation of some of its services, she disclosed. Referring to the standards-based training service that it was now presenting to the nation, the Director said that the strategy and methodology were highly recommended by industry experts.

Of the need for standards, Mkhonta opined that with the nation aiming for First World status, such criteria must be compulsory: as globally the requirement for accountability increases, the country must ensure that the national standards are on point. She said that the Authority had devised a uniquely local Certification system which is aimed at assisting players in the SMME sector accede to their relevant standards in a stepwise manner.

The UN Industrial Development Organization has reportedly helped SWASA make long strides in areas such as compulsory compliance, the capabilities of its testing laboratories and supporting legislation for the functioning of its Consumer Liaison Office. Based on these and other successes, the SWASA Council is of the view that the Authority has reached a maturity level that justifies a five-fold expansion, a process which has been initiated. Once the Authority completes this process in 2018, the personnel at SWASA will number around 120 and the nation will have all the standards and quality services outlined in the Standards and Quality Act.

Prime Example  
The value of small-scale enterprises to the country was clearly evinced when the multi-faceted manufacturing company, Tee & Jay Investments of Mlindazwe, went from overall winner of the 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards (EYA) to 2014 International Arch of Europe (IAE) Gold Award winner for Quality and Technology. As part of its award, Tee & Jay received the prestigious QC 100 symbol denoting attainment of the Total Quality Management model.

A special presentation was held at Tee & Jay’s workshop, presided over by the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Gideon Dlamini. He spoke of how the company had ploughed back profits and so invested close to E20-million in its operations which had within two years grown to include a bigger factory, a showroom at Gables shopping complex in Ezulwini and a subsidiary based in Matsapha. The company now boasts a 60-strong workforce.

Minister Dlamini disclosed that all previous EYA winners’ businesses except one were still alive and well, adding that most are now above the SME category due to growth. He said that the Ministry is more committed than ever to SMEs in the country and assured business that the EYA programme will continue to be an important feature of its calendar. Minister Dlamini’s advice to Swazi businesses was to engage in innovation on a continuous basis and introduce unique features to their products. Tee & Jay MD, Thembinkosi Mndzebele, said that in the company’s drive to sell abroad it will soon procure more advanced machinery. 

Overall winner of the 2014 EYA was engineering works and supplier, Hi-Press Investments, owned by Ntokozo Dlamini. He set up the operation in 2011 with five staff and now employs 34. SEDCO MD, Dorrington Matiwane, thanked the sponsors for their prizes which included cheques, a motor vehicle and capacity training for the winners going forward. The MD noted the presence of repeat winners, having paced themselves to achieve even better results: 

  • Street Vendor: Timele Peddlers - third-time winner, Julia Ndlangamandla
  • Textile and Apparel: Akwandze Dressmaking 
  • Handicraft: Mavuso WaNgwane 
  • Physically Challenged: Mkhuhlwini Grocery, Lavumisa – visually impaired owner and repeat winner, Amos Dlamini
  • Most Improved: Bahlebenguni Milling
  • Regional: Hi-Press Investments, Awulali N Emehlo, Indelebuli Tractor Service
  • Veteran of the Year: Computronics

The Swaziland Beverages (SB) KickStart programme focuses on inculcating a culture of entrepreneurship among young people 18 to 35. Over the years, KickStart has become the largest such development project run by a private sector company in Swaziland. SB gives support to the winning businesses in the form of grants and mentorship to ‘kick-start’ them: the grants vary depending on the capital needed in addition to mentorship, which takes place over a year. The recipients do not receive cash, but SB purchases fixed assets for the winners’ businesses. In the 2013/14 edition, all 10 finalists qualified as winners/recipients:

  • Assia Manyatsi and Ivis Khumalo - Rebirth Spa Clinic
  • Lloyd Masiya - Asemahle Investments
  • Mlungisi Sibandze - Enviro Hygiene and Sanitation
  • Nhlanhla Mamba - Nhlase Candles
  • Tengetile Mabuza - Nshubaba Dose
  • Ncamiso Khumalo - Lobamba Boys Bottle Design
  • Abraham Bulunga - Animal Farm
  • Ncamiso Nkambule - ECOSOL
  • Lindokuhle Madonsela - Authentic Records Consultancy
  • Sihle Shabalala - Pinnacle Sport Academy

MINING & QUARRYING

Finance Minister Dlamini said in his Budget Speech that the country is endowed with an estimated 1.7 billion tonnes of minerals in various parts of the country. Currently, the extraction of iron ore from old dumps at Ngwenya is ongoing and exploration for gold and industrial diamonds is also underway. To ensure optimal and responsible exploitation of the kingdom’s important resources, government put in place both the Mines and Minerals Act and the Diamond Act. For the 2014/15 fiscal year, Minister Dlamini allocated E4.4-million to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy to continue implementing the mining legislation and to encourage more investments in this sector.

The CBS revealed in its 2013/14 Annual Report that output from the mining sector has more than quadrupled in the past two years, mainly due to the coming on-stream of iron ore production and improvements in coal production. The latter increased significantly following the construction in 2012 of a link to a new seam that has higher coal yields. Coal production volumes thus soared by 68 percent to record 257 090 tonnes in 2013, from 152 284 tonnes in 2012. Coal sales revenue amounted to E245.7-million in this review period, up from the previous year’s E158.3-million and benefiting from the combination of increased volumes and a slight improvement in coal prices.

Iron ore production, which commenced in fourth-quarter 2011, recorded in 2013/14 a 22 percent year-on-year increase from 1.03 to 1.26 million tonnes. Between 2012 and 2013, E300-million was invested in establishing treatment and grinding plants to improve the quality of the ore being extracted: the commissioning of the complementary facilities resulted in more saleable ore – and less waste – than when the project was initiated. This improvement in quality significantly enhanced the value of sales: extracts worth E558.6-million were exported to mainland China in 2013, compared to E393.7-million during the previous year.

Quarry production, on the other hand, lost momentum and declined by 5.1 percent year-on-year in the wake of a significant 49.5 percent jump in 2012/13. Quarry volumes recorded 297 704 cubic metres in 2013/14, compared to 308 440 cubic metres during the previous reporting period. Despite the decrease in quarry production volumes, sales revenue increased by 39 percent from E20.6-million in 2012/13 to E28.5-million in 2013/14: this was attributed to improvements in both the quality of output and the price thereof during the year in review.

According to the CBS, prospects in the mining and quarrying sub-sector remain positive in the short- to medium-term. Coal production is expected to continue benefiting from the seam with relatively high yields, but in first-quarter 2014 the mine experienced geological and technical problems that disrupted its operations, thereby affecting projected production volumes. The production of higher-quality iron ore is expected to stay positive in the medium-term: in the short-term, however, both production and export are being dampened by the significantly lower world prices for iron ore witnessed throughout 2014. The CBS said that good prospects for gold mining remain in the medium-term, though moving at a slower pace than anticipated. Prospects for quarrying are similarly promising, in line with planned construction developments in both the private and public sectors.

THE RESERVES

In July 2014, Swaziland’s Acting Commissioner of Mines, Sam Ntshalintshali, presented to a business and investment seminar an overview of the kingdom’s mineral reserves which he said were worth more than E700-billion, based on the prices at that time. A summary of what the country has to offer is as follows:

Coal
With government looking to build a thermal power station on home soil and neighbouring South Africa’s power utility frequently relying on diesel-fuelled backup generators to meet demand, the potentially lucrative benefits of investing in this commodity are given a high profile. In Swaziland an estimated grand total of 143.5 million tonnes of mineable coal occurs at six listed sites within the two zones that comprise the country’s well-defined coal deposits:

  • Of these sites, that at Maloma currently witnesses the sole operating anthracite mine: its 35.3 million tonnes enable an annual production potential of 600 000 tonnes during an estimated lifespan of 58 years.
  • The dormant Mpaka Mine contains the biggest deposit of all, at 41.2 million tonnes, and the potential for 500 000 tonnes p.a. production over 82 years.
  • The deposit at Mhlume offers the biggest production potential – 665 000 tonnes p.a. – and its 18.4 million tonnes deposit has an estimated lifespan of 27 years.
  • Area 3 has a 20.6 million tonnes deposit, 500 000 tonnes p.a. production potential and 41-year estimated lifespan.
  • Lubhuku has an 18.9 million tonnes deposit, 510 000 tonnes p.a. production potential and 37-year estimated lifespan.

These deposit-sites are served by a network of tarred and gravel roads, telecoms systems, electricity grids and, most importantly, they lie in close proximity to the railway line, requiring only the construction of a siding with loading facilities. The development of even a single new coal mine would thus mean a significant growth in rail-freight and provide additional employment opportunities. Were all of the potential mines be established, government estimates that more than 2 000 new direct-jobs would be created and at least an equal number of spin-off opportunities. The official stance is that it would be prudent for the mines to be run by joint-venture entities with a strong local representation, to ensure operational security, stability and sustainability.

Iron Ore
Numerous occurrences of low-grade iron ore deposits in a narrow belt stretching from northwest to southeast Swaziland contain an estimated grand total of 617 747 557 tonnes. The grade of the banded iron formations is highest – averaging around 45% Fe with small pockets of 50-60% Fe - in the vicinity of the old Ngwenya Mine where the above-mentioned recovery from dumps is taking place. The Ngwenya Total Lease Area is thought to contain 96 297 050 tonnes of ore. North of that site the deposits are of slightly lower grade, averaging around 35% Fe: four distinct bodies in and around the Pigg’s Peak and Havelock areas are estimated to contain a combined total of 405 450 507 tonnes of iron ore. In the country’s south-central/east the grades are lower still, averaging around 30% Fe: three separate deposits there, at Maloma, Gege and Mkhondo Valley, respectively, present an estimated combined total of 160 million tonnes.

Gold
The precious metal occurs on the western side of the iron formations in northwest Swaziland, along the Barberton Greenstone Belt that stretches from Motshane to Horo. Gold was first discovered there more than a century ago: most activity took place between 1882 and 1914, during which time it is estimated that just 260 000 ounces were produced. Officials say that based on survey-data it is fairly obvious that there remains enough gold in the ground to warrant future mining and that the grade is very encouraging. All reserves listed below are in situ estimates and the average grades are grams per tonne (g/t).

  • ‘Daisy’ deposit at Horo in northern Hhohho – 46 300 tonnes @ 5.4 g/t, excluding dumps and tailings
  • Three deposits at Hhelehhele: ‘Wyldsdale’ – 331 900 tonnes @ 5.4 g/t; ‘Lufafa’ –
    1 652 700 tonnes @ 1.3 g/t; ‘Lomati’ –
    9 331 tonnes @ 11.9 g/t, with possible reserve 12 444 kg Au
  • ‘Pigg’s Peak’ deposit towards Bulembu –
    75 000 tonnes @ 5.0 g/t, plus small amounts of Au in dumps and tailings
  • Malolotja Nature Reserve contains five deposits: ‘Ivanhoe’ – 6 000 tonnes @ 8.5 g/t; ‘She’ – 25 000 tonnes @ 6.6 g/t; ‘Forbes Main Reef’, ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Avalanche’ require detailed mapping to ascertain their reserves, but have average grades of 47.5 g/t, 11.9 g/t and 4.3 g/t, respectively
  • ‘Devil’s Reef’ northeast of Bulembu reportedly contains an exceptionally rich (1.27 kg/t) but not extensive lode within a ferruginous and manganese wad

Diamonds
These are found in a kimberlite pipe at Dvokolwako - about 65 km from Manzini and two km north of the Mbuluzi River - while others occur as a fluvial deposit within the Hlane Game Reserve, although the deposit has not yet been quantified. Swaziland is a full member of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

Dvokolwako: The vertical, pipe-shaped kimberlite occupies about 2.8 ha at the surface and 3.4 ha at a depth of 50 metres, before decreasing in size from a depth of 120 metres. Though presently dormant, it has to date been mined to depths of 72 metres and produced diamonds of which 20 percent were gem quality and the remainder industrial grade. As it stands, the pit geometry is 600 metres in length and 160 – 180 metres in width, while the kimberlite is about 60 metres wide. Official data states that the pipe could still be paying dividends to depths of 450 metres and that this converts into five million tonnes of in situ ore.

Hlane: The richest and most extensive alluvial diamond deposit lies some 30 km east of the Dvokolwako kimberlite pipe: it is thought that more may exist to the south and north of the game reserve. The Hlane alluvial deposit occurs within the diamond-bearing Red Beds that were established at 170-metre depths about 1.2 km east of the Mbuluzane River, along which the main diamond-bearing sediments crop out in a five km north-south trend. Diamonds in the conglomerate are moderately sorted, of small size – average 0.008 carats – and include a high percentage of well-formed crystals. Despite the deposit remaining un-quantified, experts say that diamonds are present in sufficient quantities to warrant a detailed investigation of the deposit.

Other Minerals
Dimension Stones: Greenchert, Granites and Rhyolites, occurring at Mololotja, warrant a feasibility study

  • Barite: 286 000 tonnes of industrial grade lie in a dormant mine at Londosi
  • Talc: occurring at Forbes Reef/Sicanusa warrants a feasibility study
  • Kaolin: 700 000 tonnes of creamy white/pink lie in a dormant mine at Mahlangatsha
  • Silica: 230 000 tonnes of 76% SiO2 occurring in the Madinda Hills have never been exploited
  • Ball Clay: That occurring at Lubhuku warrants a feasibility study, while production is in process at Langa