Umgeni Iron Works acquisition transforms smoothly

Just over a year ago Umgeni Iron Works was acquired by Malvern Engineering Works, a South African general engineering company servicing the mining industry and Minco Tech an, an Australian based mineral processing and mining equipment manufacturing company based in Newcastle NSW, in a 50/50 joint venture.

The foundry, which is one of the oldest foundries in South Africa, produces castings for a number of industries and has a production capacity of 8 000 tons per year, made up of cast iron , steel ,high chrome iron, manganese steel and stainless steel .

“Umgeni Iron Works, which is located in Sea Cow Lake Road, Umgeni, KwaZulu Natal, was owned and managed by the Rice family for 40 years with Gavin Rice being at the helm for the last 28 years. When Gavin decided to retire both his sons had already established successful careers and would prefer not to continue the family interest in the business, he therefore decided to sell,” explained current MD Lee Bridges.


Ray Roberts Photography

“The acquisition by Malvern Engineering Works and Minco Tech was a strategic decision by the two companies, both of which have extensive exposure to the mining industry, to guarantee a continued supply of quality castings.”

“The transfer of ownership has been a smooth transition that has seen a family run business now transform into one that will in future have a broader introduction into new markets, both locally and internationally, while still maintaining its traditional local market.”

“We have already begun to implement changes on the production floor, and have also added a new pattern store to house the 15 000 patterns that we have on site.”

“On the product side we are increasing our exposure in the sugar industry, and if certain projects come to fruition we are going to have to increase our melting capacity.”

Malvern Engineering Works
Malvern Engineering Works was established in June 1947, as a general engineering business, servicing the mining industry. Over the years the company expanded, manufacturing a wide range of products such as sheave wheels, heavy media drum separators, medium and low intensity magnetic separators (for ore concentration), suspended electro and permanent magnets, cyclones, sieve bends and sampling systems. In house designing of equipment started in 1980.


Ray Roberts Photography


Ray Roberts Photography

The company entered into strategic alliances with Ludowici (later acquired by FLSmidth) in 1996 for licensed manufacturing of fine and coarse coal centrifuges and with Minco-Tech, Australia for heavy media and classifying cyclones in 2007. Malvern has sales agreements with Phoenix Process Equipment Co, Huzhou Hehui Machinery Co. Ltd and Shandong Haute Magnet Technology Co.

Malvern Engineering has seven group companies under its umbrella including Ingwenya Mineral Processing, Wedge Wire Industries, Schumar Engineering, Minco Malvern Process Equipment Company, Malvern Mozambique and Umgeni Iron and Steel Works.

Minco Tech
Minco Tech, a 100% Australian owned and operated company, have been designing and manufacturing mineral processing and mining equipment since 1978 and have been supplying their products into the Australian, South African, Indian and US markets.

Umgeni Iron Works
Umgeni Iron Works started life in the late 1890’s as “Umgeni Engine Works, Foundry and Forge” and operated in the premises of an old cotton mill on the southern bank of the Umgeni River, some half a kilometer from the present site. In January 1919, Umgeni Iron Works was established under the “Old Firms Act” and took over the assets of the original company. Manufacturing at this time consisted of grey iron castings for farming, ship repair, brick making and general engineering applications.

The need for development capital resulted in Umgeni Iron Works becoming a limited liability company in 1938, with a number of new shareholders. Of these, Coronation Brick and Tile Co. acquired a substantial interest, and other shareholders were also customers, some of whom to this day continue to support the company with their valued orders. In the same year, the foundry was relocated to its present site north of the Umgeni River, and facilities were updated and developed to increase capacity, in size of casting, and volume of production. Further progress was made in 1961 with the installation of a large sand mill system for green sand, which enabled the company to undertake volume repetition orders, but these were still restricted to grey iron produced by cupola melting.


Ray Roberts Photography

The year 1978 saw a major step forward, with the installation of a 500 kilogram coreless induction furnace. This was supplemented by an optical emission spectrometer for rapid chemical analysis of metals, and enabled the production of high quality alloy irons, ductile irons, carbon and low alloy steels and high alloy stainless steels.

More recent developments include the change in 1982 from CO2 process to furane resin sand for jobbing work, and the move from cupola melting to electric induction melting with the installation of 3½ ton and 2 ton furnaces in 1983 and 1989. The company now serves the sugar mills, mines, shipping brick works, smelters, general engineering and metallurgical industries with a full range of 89 different specifications of ferrous castings, up to 8 tons in grey iron and SG iron, 4 tons in steel stainless steel. Facilities include patternmaking and machining that is undertaken by subcontracting to appropriately equipped companies in the greater Durban area.

In accordance with recent industrial developments, a policy decision was made to install a formal quality management system. This resulted in the achievement in 1998 of an SABS listing for conformance to the International Standard ISO 9002 for quality systems, which is recognised worldwide. The listing has since been upgraded to ISO 9001:2000 and subsequently to ISO 9001:2008.

For further details contact Umgeni Iron Works on TEL: 031 579 1361 or visit