R1.3bn vegetable oil refinery boost for Richards Bay

18 March 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202018463

Construction, Civil & Structural Engineering
Food & Beverage
Government & Municipal
SMME Development & Support
Special Economic Zones

THE construction of Wilmar Processing SA’s R1.3-billion crude vegetable oil refining facility at Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ), is expected to start in the next few weeks.

That’s according to the company’s Project Director Donovan Matlala, who added that the facility, which would be used to produce cooking oil, mayonnaise and margarine, would be erected in the RBIDZ's Phase 1A on 1 Medway Road.

One of Wilmar's leading brands in South Africa is Excella cooking oil.

"The construction programme will have many benefits for the communities in and around Richards Bay. Following extensive discussions with RBIDZ and our commitment to partner with communities wherein we operate, Wilmar Processing SA has committed to spend 30% of the project value in Richards Bay and the surrounding areas."

Matlala said this meant that the SMMEs would have an opportunity to participate as sub-contractors or suppliers of services and equipment to the project.

"These opportunities include the supply of temporary structures offices, ablution facilities, plant hire and accommodation. Sub-contractors will also have an opportunity to tender on piling, site clearance and fencing, roads, pipe fabrication and erection and the erection of tanks and non-process buildings.”

Matlala said construction was expected to start this month and would take about two years to complete while the plant start-up was expected at the beginning of April 2022.

The facility will include a refinery, a fractionator, a shortening plant, packaging and warehouse, as well as a tank farm. It will also have an effluent treatment plant, water treatment plant, a coal yard and boilers. The buildings will include an engineering workshop, an administration building, employee change rooms, clinic, canteen and a security office.

Matlala said that upon completion, the facility would employ no fewer than two hundred employees. The plant would use natural lighting and solar energy for non-process buildings. Solar panels will also be installed on the warehouse rooftop and were expected to provide 1MW energy.

He said energy efficient equipment would be used on the facility and the plant would be controlled with a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system to minimise wastage and energy use.

"We will also minimise energy consumption by using exhaust streams for heating up cold process streams. Streetlights and weighbridges will also be powered by solar energy," said Matlala.

RBIDZ Acting Chief Executive, Kaya Ngqaka said that the R1.3-billion investment and finalisation of all processes leading to the commencement of construction would change the economic landscape of the region.

“It will also add value via technology skills transfer, boost advanced manufacturing and create value chain opportunities as well as create an estimated 150 employment opportunities during construction and 250 direct jobs during operation," Ngqaka said.

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