Sasol opens up at PP growth summit
SASOL POLYMERS opened up recently at its ‘Polypropylene Industry Growth Summit’ in May. Delegates were invited to visit the Sasol synfuels plant in Secunda or its Polymer Technology Services Centre in Modderfontein on the first day, with the actual summit being held on the second day at the Sasol Polymers HQ in Bryanston, Johannesburg.
Sasol was established in 1950, when the group of mainly Afrikaans businessmen and scientists took the major decision to develop a coal-to-liquids plant at Sasolburg. Anyone viewing the formerly virtually featureless vlaktes where the Sasol synfuels plants were constructed must have thought this was wishful thinking. Using international technology, Sasol One was built at Sasolburg to the south of Johannesburg and Sasol Two later in 1980 at Secunda, about two hours drive to the east in Mpumalanga. The presence of coal underground was the sole reason for the siting of the plants.
Given that polypropylene would at the time in the 1950s have existed only conceptually, the development has had far-reaching results: today Sasol supplies a third of South Africa’s fuel requirements, is a leading supplier and exporter of polymers and is involved in several international developments using its own gas-to-liquids technology. It also employs over 30 000 people.
The Secunda plant is massive, with the two PP production units comprising only a small part of the site. Everyone involved in the polyolefins business in South Africa should venture to visit the plant, to view what has become a huge operation, as well as the level of transformation achieved by Sasol over the past 60 years. Although the larger percentage of PP (as well as low-density polyethylene) is exported, the fact that the Sasol Polymers management has indicated its willingness to partner with local convertors is very welcome.
Plastics │ SA takes shape
THE appointment of Anton Hanekom as the new director of the Plastics Federation of SA – soon to become the Plastics │ SA entity – is encouraging. Anton was formerly training director of the Federation and has so far this year been acting director of the organisation. He has been involved in the industry for ages and understands what’s involved, and also of the pressing need to move with the times and improve the image of our materials and products, as well as grow and strengthen the industry.
The Federal Council announced the appointment, effective from 1 June, and said Anton has been deeply involved in the project to revamp the organisation.
“The new Plastics SA is going to be much more relevant to our stakeholders and will oversee a new era of growth in our industry by promoting the real benefits of plastic to the public at large and government. We have a great story to tell and are an essential part of the industrial revolution that has leapfrogged the Planet in the last 60 years.
“We will be expanding the Plastics SA team in the months ahead to enable us to tackle the challenges and opportunities,” said the management committee statement.