Africa's First Salt Conference in Swakopmund

(by Sharlien Tjambari) 
THE first Salt Conference on the African Continent covering key trends and developments, challenges, and influencing factors shaping world salt supply and demand, took place in Swakopmund on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Andre Snyman the Managing Director of Walvis Bay Salt Holdings said the purpose of the Annual Salt Conference annually is to bring all the role players together in the salt industry across the world. “The main biggest benefit for us is that we can develop the salt market for Namibia in terms of more international export clients and the other main factor is the fact that we can learn from new developments in the world about salt and learn about new opportunities as well,” Snyman said.

While sharing a brief overview of the salt market in terms of production, Snyman said the annual salt production in Namibia is near to 1.3 million tons per annum. According to Snyman, Walvis Bay Salt annually produces 1.1 million tons of crude salt depending on the evaporation rate and Swakop Salt produces 120 000 tons. Snyman mentioned that salt is Namibia’s biggest export product in terms of volume and exports through the Port of Walvis Bay alone are between 800 000 and 900 000 tons per annum.

Namibia exports salt to Southern Africa – going into the clinical industry, but also for industrial markets. Namibia also exports its salt to West Africa, East Africa, and neighbouring countries. According to Snyman, Namibia also exports on a regular basis to North America. “We are hoping to open up entrance into Brazil.”

Like many other industries, the Salt Company faces huge challenges that hamper production such as dust storms, which cause dust particles on the salt. “Because our salt is open, we are going to construct an 18 000 square m2 warehouse in the port, that process has already started and will take a year- to protect the integrity of our product in the port – so that is what we are going to do to mitigate the risk of population in the port.”

Snyman said another challenge that they are faced with is climate fluctuations. The volume of the ocean is expanding, and it is projected a medium sea level rise by 2050 impacting all low-lying salt fields across the world and this is something that needs to be watched.

Snyman said, unfortunately, there is not a lot from a salt field perspective with rising sea levels that one can do, “unfortunately, we see already signs all across the world on low-lying areas where there are more instances of where the waves in springtime are causing damage to the operations and there is not a lot one can do about that.”

Veston Malango, the Chief Executive Officer for the Chamber of Mines of Namibia said it should be noted that although an industrial mineral, salt is a unique mineral, unique in several ways from the rest. According to Malango, the mining industry is often reminded that minerals are a depleting asset, especially when new policy considerations are being made. However, salt is an exception. Contrary to public perception, salt is a renewable natural resource, a renewable mineral.

“With global warming, there is no talk of a drop in ocean levels, the opposite is often the case. The real concern is a rise in ocean water levels.” Malango further stated that salt is a low-cost and high-volume commodity, implying a high sensitivity to logistical costs which can easily be more than the value of the product itself.

“This Forum is an opportunity for Namibia to learn experiences from other salt-producing countries on how efficiencies can be enhanced to remain competitive. I am pleased to note that all major players in Namibia are actively here, i.e., Walvis Bay Salt & Chemicals, the Salt Company, and Prime Salt at Cape Cross, the first two being major players at the Chamber of Mines of Namibia.”

Mining is the backbone of the Namibian mining industry, contributing 12.2% to GDP, over 50% of foreign exchange earnings, is an important source of taxes, royalties, and export levies for the government, provides employment opportunities, and above all, mining creates a multiplier effect in the economy.


Walvis Bay Salt Holdings (Pty) Ltd
P O Box 2471
Walvis Bay

Tel:  +264 64 273 0200
Fax:  +264 64 20 9635

Bulk Sales Agent:
Kevin Brett
Tel:  +27 11 803 2904
Mobile:  +27 83 627 2329

Business Development Director:  Gregory Swartz
Tel:  +264 64 273 0200
Mobile:  +264 81 128 6355

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