Coega gets R1.5bn biofuels plant

18 March 2008

Rainbow Nation Renewable Fuels (RNRF) is currently constructing a R1.5-billion soybean processing facility at South Africa’s Coega industrial development zone, to supply the local market with soybean meal, soybean oil and biodiesel.

In a statement issued this week, RNRF said that the factory, at Coega outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province, would be the largest of its kind in Africa, with production commencing in the second half of 2009.

According to the company, the operation will generate over R4.5-billion in turnover for the local economy and will provide 350 new permanent full-time jobs, 725 additional jobs in related industries and a further 800 jobs in the construction of the facility.

“The investment will provide a significant boost to the South African and Eastern Cape economies,” said RNRF managing director Geoff Mordt.

“The facility will process soybeans producing soybean meal and soybean oil. It is planned to develop capacity to manufacture soybean oil into biodiesel and pharmaceutical glycerine.”

RNRF is majority-owned by Sydney, Australia-based National Biofuels Group, while 26% of equity is being allocated to local broad-based black economic empowerment groups.

Improving food, energy security
RNRF will produce 800 000 tons of soybean meal, a key ingredient for livestock industries such as the rapidly expanding chicken meat industry.

“South Africa’s soybean farmers and livestock industries such as poultry, pork, dairy, beef and aquaculture producers stand to reap enormous rewards,” said Mordt.

“The facility will consume one million tons of soybeans annually providing a consistent local demand that South African farmers can rely on year after year,” he explained.

He said that the company was currently working with local farmers, agricultural cooperatives and emerging-farmer groups to significantly expand their local supplier base of soybeans, adding that the company’s operation would improve food availability for the domestic market and ensure food security.

“Our facility’s local soybean meal production will be a boost for local livestock industries and will help improve the nation’s balance of payments,” Mordt said. “South African imports of soybean meal reached 812 000 tons last year, up 20% on the previous year.”

Fledgling biofuel industry
Mordt said the factory was the first integrated soybean processing facility to be announced since the government released its biofuels industrial strategy in December last year.

He added that their application to the authorities to produce up to 288-million litres of biodiesel per year, from a feedstock produced by South African farmers, were at an advanced stage.

He said his company’s investment was the first major commitment to progressing the fledgling South African biofuels industry, and it was committed to delivering a renewable fuel that would reduce the harmful effects of greenhouse gases and toxic emissions produced by fossil fuels.

“Soybeans are an ideal biodiesel feedstock in South Africa, helping to ensure the nation’s food security,” he said. “Growth of the local soybean industry will strengthen local agriculture and rural development, adding a key source of protein to the human food chain as well as providing a sustainable feedstock for premium quality biodiesel.”

SAinfo reporter

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