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Sasol to Invest R 8,4 billion in Wax Production in South Africa

Sasol logo Sasol has approved an investment of R 8,4 billion which will double the Sasol Wax production of hard wax in South Africa. The investment will be done in two phases.

Phase one will come into operation in 2012 and will increase the hard wax capacity by close to 40%. The investment for phase one includes pre-investment to optimise the remaining investment for phase two. Sasol has already completed the basic engineering and ordered some of the long lead items for project's first phase. The project will, on completion, have doubled the current hard wax production capacity. Phase two is currently expected to come into operation by 2014.

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

Sasol group general manager for the Chemical Cluster Reiner Groh adds: "This is a significant investment for the Sasolburg site and demonstrates our commitment to our South African asset base. 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 businesses of the Sasol group."

Hard wax is used in a number of unique applications. An important application is in hot melt adhesives (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. This additive is patented by Sasol and sold as Sasobit(TM). It reduces the temperature at which the bitumen can be laid, thereby reducing emissions and greenhouse gases. The wax additive improves the resistance to deformation and cracking of the road surface.

The product is also used in printing ink. Another important application is as an additive in the forming (extrusion) 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.

Sasol Wax is a major producer and marketer of synthetic and petroleum derived waxes, with production facilities in South Africa, North America, and Europe. The synthetic waxes are manufactured using Sasol's advanced proprietary technology in South Africa. The project 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.

Published 01/12/09

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