Investing in South Africa


Sasol in R8.4bn local wax investment

2 December 2009

South African petrochemicals giant Sasol is to invest R8.4-billion to double the production of hard wax products by its Sasol Wax division in the country by 2014.

Sasol Wax is a major producer and marketer of synthetic and petroleum derived waxes, with production facilities in South Africa, North America, and Europe.

'Significant investment'

The investment will be done in two phases, with the first phase coming into operation by 2012 and increasing Sasol Wax's production capacity by 40%. The company has already completed the basic engineering and ordered some of the long lead items for this phase. The second phase will come into operation by 2014.

The investment will also result in increased production of medium waxes, mostly used by the candle industry in Southern Africa, as well as liquid paraffins used in a variety of industrial applications.

Total production of all the wax products from the Sasolburg site near Johannesburg will increase by two-thirds.

"This is a significant investment for the Sasolburg site and demonstrates our commitment to our South African Asset base," Sasol GM Reiner Groh said in a statement this week.

"It is in line with Sasol's strategy to leverage our advanced proprietary technology and is also aligned with our longer term plans to significantly grow the chemicals business of the Sasol group."

Used in unique applications

Hard wax is used in a number of unique applications. An important application is in hot melt adhesives the glue which is applied at high speed, for instance to seal cereal boxes or milk cartons. This is a rapidly growing application, especially in the developing world.

An environmentally friendly application for hard wax is as an additive in bitumen used in road construction. The product is also used in printing ink.

Another important application is as an additive in the forming of PVC objects such as pipes or window frames. Lead based stabilisers in PVC are being phased out and hard wax is a critical component in the additives that are replacing the lead based product.

"This large investment shows Sasol's commitment to the wax business and enables us to grow with our customers in this market," said Sasol Wax MD Johan du Preez.

SAinfo reporter

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A Sasol polymers plant A Sasol polymers plant. South African petrochemicals giant Sasol pioneered the technology to produce oil, petrol and other chemicals from coal (Photo: Sasol / MediaClubSouthAfrica.com)

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