NEWLY expanded salt pans would allow Walvis Bay Salt Holdings in Walvis Bay to enter and expand its footprint in the market and even export its product overseas. The company that exports nearly 50% of table salt and industrial grade salt from the coastal town into the SADC region, as well as to Nigeria, Cameroon and other countries in West Africa and Europe, has expanded its operations on the Atlantic coast of Namibia. The increased pan area now measure 5 500 hectares from the previous 4 500 hectares and enables the company an increased annual production capacity of one million tonnes from a previous 750 000 tonnes annually.

The company said the increase in the hectarage of salt pans, at an investment cost of nearly N$65 million, would now allow it to access North America’s export market. Walvis Bay Salt Holdings, through its various subsidiaries – Ekango Salt Refiners, Salt and Chemical and Walvis Bay Salt Refiners some of which are co-owned in consortiums with previously disadvantaged Namibians, is the largest producer of salt in southern Africa and produces salt by solar evaporation of seawater. It produces salt for various markets, including industrial-grade salt for Chlor Alkali production, and refined salt for household and agricultural markets in Africa and Europe. Besides South Africa, triple refined sea salt is exported to neighbouring countries, including Angola, the Democratic Republic of
Congo, Botswana and Zambia, mainly for human consumption. The company’s managing director, Andre Snyman, said the positive growth within the company has enabled them to undertake this investment, noting that as a direct consequence of this expansion, opportunities for further local salt beneficiation are created. Snyman said the company is now investigating the possibility of setting up in Namibia the production of certain chemicals such as caustic soda. Caustic soda or sodium hydroxide is an inorganic compound used in water treatment and the hospitality industry for cleaning kitchen equipment or unclogging drains.

“We are proud to announce that feasibility studies are currently underway in order to determine what we can do locally to reduce the nation’s dependency on the importation of salt-related raw materials. We do believe that Namibia is blessed with a vibrant economy, mainly because of the contributions of sectors such as mining, agriculture, fishing and processing,” said Snyman.

Namibian Vice-President, Dr Nickey Iyambo, who was present at the event to mark the expansion, applauded the private sector for responding to government’s call for diversification and transformation of the manufacturing sector through local beneficiation.

“It’s pleasing to know that as part of the private sector you are heeding government’s call for market diversification and transformation of the manufacturing sector through local beneficiation,” he said.