In 1998, the TRC published its final report, laying to rest some of apartheid's ghosts. In the same year, the IDC agreed to invest in the Mozambique Aluminium Smelter.
Democracy in South Africa would never have been fully achieved if the ghosts of its apartheid past had not been exorcised in the form of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a court-like body set up to bear witness to, record and in some cases grant amnesty to the perpetrators, of crimes relating to human rights violations.
When the final report of the commission was published on 28 October 1998, many victims of apartheid found closure and set about helping to build a better country. In the same vein, the Industrial Development Corporation set about investing in a new project in neighbouring Mozambique, a country inextricably intertwined with the political history of South Africa.
The new project, which came to be known as Mozal, or the Mozambique Aluminium Smelter, grew from the IDC's relation with minerals company Gencor. In 1996, Gencor bought the IDC's shareholding in Alusaf, an aluminium smelter in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal. When this deal was concluded, the corporation and Gencor entered into an agreement to set up the Mozal smelter. The other parties to the project were Billiton SA and Mitsubishi.
In 1997, the IDC board approved the corporation's exposure in the Mozal project. Mozal would involve the installation of a single potline to produce 253 000 tons of aluminium ingots a year for export. Maputo was selected as the most suitable location for the new smelter because of its proximity to South Africa and its power grid. It also offered the best port facilities of all harbours in Mozambique.
Mozal brought economic benefits to Mozambique, including a huge impact on the country's gross domestic product. In addition, it meant better living standards for many people who had suffered tremendously during a 15-year civil war. Over the 40-month construction of the smelter, nearly 5 000 people were employed for varying periods, most of them from Mozambique. When the plant was commissioned in 1998, 873 permanent jobs were created, of which 793 went to locals.
At opening, Mozal was able to produce 245 000 tons of aluminium ingots from two potrooms, each consisting of 144 pots. Raw materials, which consisted of alumina, petroleum coke, liquid pitch, aluminium fluoride, calcium carbonate and cryolite, was sourced from South Africa, Europe and Australia. In 2001, an expansion was approved to increase the output of the smelter from 253 000 to 506 000 tons of aluminium ingots a year. Mozal 2 was fully commissioned in August 2003 and completed below the budget of $860-million (R6.3-billion at August 2003 rates). Today, the smelter has a capacity of approximately 563 000 tons a year.