30 January 2013

Namibia: Nigerians to Invest in Wlotzkas Salt Mine

LOCAL company Rainbow Salt is set to become the largest salt producer in Namibia, with a predicted annual output of one million tons of table and industrial salt from the Erongo desalination plant near Wlotzkasbaken.

The brine from the desalination plant will be pumped into a series of shallow crystalisation ponds where the sun and wind will evaporate the remaining water.

The project is situated northwest of Wlotzkasbaken inside the Dorob National Park, and Rainbow Salt has promised sustainable land use. An environmental impact assesment (EIA) is under way. At a public meeting last week, Rainbow Salt's Joel Shafashike, as well as the project manager of Nigerian client TY Holdings, Mike Illston, said the proposed project had nothing to do with the proposed 'Vision Industrial Park' (VIP) of Gecko Namibia.

Last year, Cabinet gave VIP the nod in view of its potential economic benefits to the country. Cabinet granted Gecko a 99-year lease of 700 hectares of land at Mile 16.

VIP would include three chemical factories (sulphuric acid, soda ash and phosphoric acid). The sulphuric acid plant is expected to produce up to 1,2 million tons of acid a year by processing about 400 000 tonnes of sulphur, which will be imported via a proposed port for bulk commodities, with a jetty stretching approximately 1,5km and a breakwater. A salt factory for the plant is expected to be erected at Cape Cross.

"This [Rainbow Salt's project] is purely for export to Nigeria for West African use. Namibia does not have enough salt to supply to TY Holdings, but with this new venture, we will be able to supply," Shafashike told The Namibian.

The existing two salt works in Namibia, namely The Salt Company in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay Salt Works, have a combined output of about 700 000 tons. Rainbow Salt promises to produce 300 000 tons more.

Rainbow Salt is a 51% shareholder in the project, with TY Holdings owning the other 49%. The project is expected to cost N$135 million and if it materialises, it could earn Namibia export revenue of N$280 million per year.

"The market for this salt has already been finalised, and if all goes according to plan, TY Holdings could start importing this Namibian salt within the next five years," Illston told The Namibian. Until now, the brine from the desalination plant has been pumped back into the ocean.

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