Family grow R9-mln roots

2008-05-26 00:00

A family-owned chemicals exporting business has invested more than R9 million in a new hydrochloric acid filling plant at Mkondeni, following a decision to locate the facility in Pietermaritzburg rather than Cato Ridge or Durban.

The company, Richbay Chemicals, South Africa, based in Richards Bay, has launched a facility that will serve as an ideal distribution point for the product.

Richbay Chemicals MD Johann Klopper told The Witness that the product (hydrochloric acid) will be exported to 25 countries across Africa and the Indian Ocean islands.

The product is used in gold mining operations, offshore oil-field operations, galvanising plants and water systems. The company procures the product from ncp Chlorchem in Kempton Park, a producer of chlor-alkali products. "They have supported our export programme immensely," said Klopper.

The product is then transported to Mkondeni in 28-ton tankers, where it is put into special drums, polycans and flow-bins. It is then shipped off from Durban Harbour.

Pietermaritzburg also serves as a warehousing and distribution point of the company’s household and industrial chemicals, as Richbay Chemicals has set up a factory shop on site.

The company is also establishing a sales network for its own chemicals as it aims to further penetrate markets within KZN and Gauteng.

The transportation factor understandably played a major role in Richbay’s decision to settle in Pietermaritzburg.

"In the old days, the HCL [Hydrochloric Acid] was sourced from a local plant in Richards Bay. Due to the fact that supply now comes from Gauteng, Pietermaritzburg has become the ideal place. This saves us about 25% in terms of fuel and distance travelled.

Durban is very congested and land in Cato Ridge [at the time] was priced at more than double the cost of land at Mkondeni. We were happy to place ourselves in this environment as Pietermaritzburg appealed to us for this reason."

Klopper noted that they have settled on an 8 000 m2 plot to allow ample room for expansion. About 30 new jobs were created as a result of the development.

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