Sasol's upgraded R13.6bn wax plant to boost SA's industrialisation

Johannesburg - Sasol’s new improved R13.6bn wax plant in Sasolburg will make South Africa one of the world’s leading wax producers. It is also set to drive the country's industrialisation strategy. 

The project is one of South Africa’s largest capital investment projects currently.

Sasol inaugurated the full completion of the project on Tuesday. Phase 2 of the project began beneficial operation in March 2017, while phase 1 was commissioned in 2015.

"It is a fine symbol of South Africa’s industrial prowess,” said Bongani Nqwababa, Sasol joint President and Chief Executive Officer at the official opening of the plant in Sasolburg on Tuesday. He said the plant had been one of the biggest capital investments in recent years.

Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu's adviser, Thami Mazwai, said the new plant was a good example of the beneficiation that South Africa has to invest in to grow the economy. He spoke on behalf of Zulu, who'd rushed to Cape Town for a ministerial meeting. 

"It indicates to the world that South Africa is gravitating to a viable investment destination," Mazwai said. 

Sasol has been steadily growing its investment in Sasolburg, a town where the majority of people are employed by the chemical giant. Nqwababa said through the company's Sasolburg Expansion Programme, which started in 2009, it had invested over R16bn in capital expenditure at its Sasolburg Operations.

South Africa is where the majority of Sasol's employees are based – housing 90% of its 31 000-strong global workforce. Nqwababa said that it was South Africa where Sasol would want to continue to invest significant capital, both for growth and sustenance, as well as social investment.

"In our last financial year alone, we invested R115bn in capital and operational spend in our South African operations," he said. "We also invested R1.6bn in skills and socio-economic development programmes globally, 80% of which were in South Africa."

Stephen Cornell, Sasol’s other joint President and Chief Executive Officer, said Sasol leveraged its expertise and proprietary technologies to produce premium waxes that offer unique properties and superior performances.

Sasol's hard waxes, medium waxes, liquid paraffins and waxy oils are supplied to a variety of industrial and speciality applications. Hard waxes are used in hotmelt adhesives, PVC processing, inks, paints and coatings, and asphalt applications; medium waxes are used in candle markets and emulsions in the manufacturing of construction boards.

According to Sasol throughout the duration of the project, there were 49 service providers and approximately 5 500 construction workers on site. The project was resourced by 450 engineers with about 22 000 isometric drawings created and 904 pieces of mechanical equipment installed.

In excess of 31 million hours were worked with an exceptional safety record of 0.15 recordable case rate (RCR), below the benchmark of projects of this scale.

The plant  is one of a number of major capital investments the company has made in South Africa, Sasol said, in order to boost the country as the biggest industrial nation in Africa. 

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