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Plant construction boost for Richards Bay


Plant construction boost for Richards Bay

The construction of the R1.3 billion Wilmar Processing SA Pty Ltd project, a crude vegetable oil refining facility at Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ), is expected to start in the next few weeks. Wilmar Processing SA's project director Donovan Matlala said 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.

 "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 Pty Ltd has committed to spend 30% of the project value in Richards Bay and the surrounding areas," said Matlala.

He 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, etc., 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.

One of Wilmar's leading brands in South Africa is Excella cooking oil. Wilmar 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 would boast features that include a refinery, a fractionator, a shortening plant, packaging & warehouse and 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 less 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. Matlala said energy efficient equipment would be used on the facility and the plant would be controlled with a SCADA supervisory control and data acquisition to minimise wastage and hence energy use.

"We will also minimise energy consumption by using exhaust streams for heating up cold process streams. Street lights and weighbridges will also be powered by solar energy," said Matlala. RBIDZ Acting Chief Executive, Kaya Ngqaka said that the R1.3 billion investments and finalisation of all processes leading to the commencement of construction of this investment would not only change the economic landscape of the region, but also add value to the 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," said Ngqaka.

The RBIDZ said that with the refinery on the way for Richards Bay, the region was poised for exceptional economic development going forward, thereby opening the doors for the realisation of an inclusive economy in which communities will be able to derive significant benefits with the prioritisation of local content.


The RBIDZ is an organisation made up of real people, with a real dedication, and passion to effect real change in South Africa. This commitment and energy is apparent in all dealings with not only each other but with potential investors too.

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