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WBSR ground breaking ceremony

Walvis Bay Salt Refiners invests in new salt wash plant

Published on: 25 June 2020

Walvis Bay Salt Refiners will soon invest more than N$90 million in a new wash plant, the single biggest capital investment since the inception of the company in 1964.

The last major investment was in 2015 when the company expanded its salt field’s footprint by adding an additional 1,100 hectares of concentration and evaporation ponds to its network of ponds, now covering a total area of 5,300 hectares. The company also installed an additional seawater intake and a feeder pipeline.

The current maximum output of the company’s 30-year old wash plant is about 900,000 tons per annum if operated at full capacity all year round. At this rate of production, the wash plant is only able to process about 80% of the expanded salt field volumes. The new wash plant will have a washed salt capacity of 1.1 million tons per annum.

Walvis Bay Salt Refiners, a subsidiary of Walvis Bay Salt Holdings, is the largest producer of solar sea salt in sub-Saharan Africa. The company produces solar sea salt by pumping seawater from the Walvis Bay lagoon through a series of concentration and crystallisation ponds. Over a period of 18 to 24 months, the seawater is evaporated to ultimately form a thick layer of salt crystals on crystalliser pavements, which are mechanically harvested, washed, dried and stored to yield chemical grade or general purpose salt. Products, which fully comply with international quality standards and certifications for various consumer markets, are supplied in both bulk and bag formats.

“The rapid expansion of our business during the last couple of years has necessitated this investment in latest technology to keep up with the higher demand,” says Andre Snyman, Walvis Bay Salt Holdings Managing Director.

Since the company’s inception just more than 50 years ago it has increased production more than 20-fold. Apart from supplying to the local market, roughly 80% of products are exported to various markets internationally. In recent years Walvis Bay Salt Refiners made great in-roads in opening up new markets in Europe and the United States.

The new wash plant will offer a range of benefits including a reduction in washing losses, lower moisture levels and improved product quality. In general, international markets require moisture content to be lower than three per cent. The new salt wash plant will have the capacity and ability to ensure Walvis Bay Salt Refiners meets this and other stringent international quality standards.

Different plant designs and layouts were evaluated through a process of intense research that commenced in 2015. Where the current wash plant consists of a single line, the new plant design will cater for two independent wash lines, reducing downtime and risk of defaulting on a shipment.

The management and execution of this project will be carried out by a team of appropriately qualified and experienced personnel from the internal resources of Walvis Bay Salt Refiners, as well as local engineering service providers overseen by an independent project manager.

“Walvis Bay Salt Holdings is well respected in the mining and manufacturing sectors of Namibia, contributing significantly to the local economy. Through ongoing investments in infrastructure development and human capacity building the company clearly shows its committed to supporting our Government’s ‘growth at home’ strategy,” says Snyman. The group also produces high-quality table salt for the premium Cerebos brand for local and export markets.

Construction of the new plant will commence during June 2018. It is planned to start cold commissioning in October 2019 and handover of the plant for production is scheduled for mid-November 2019.

The infrastructure investment will also include a new reception, security office, induction office and information centre training room as well as warehouse and ablution facilities.

“Walvis Bay Salt Refiners is operating its business in a Ramsar site. It is an important tourist visiting point and is also a place of learning for regular school tours. The new reception area will provide space and will be equipped to accommodate school tours and tourist visits, which ultimately not only contributes to the image of the company, but also the town of Walvis Bay,” says Snyman.

END

For more information please contact:

Marinda van Wyk (Executive Assistant)

marinda.van.wyk@wbsalt.com

Tel: 064-213 352

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