Sappi CEO Alex Thiel with the outgoing KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube, during the visit to the Sappi Saiccor mill in Umkomaas.

The Sappi Saiccor mill situated in Umkomaas, KwaZulu-Natal hosted a high-level delegation from the office of the outgoing MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube, as part of the KZN International Investment Conference. The MEC was accompanied by the Deputy Mayor of Ethekwini, Councillor Belinda Scott and the TIKZN Chairperson, Ms Ina Cronje.

Sappi CEO Alex Thiel welcomed the delegation to the mill, stating that Sappi Southern Africa was honoured to be included in the main programme of the 2020 South African Investment Conference in KwaZulu-Natal and to showcase the investment programme worth R7.7 billion at Sappi Saiccor Mill, known as Project Vulindlela. The programme was first announced during the inaugural Presidential Investment Conference in 2018, when it supported President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for significant investment into the South African economy.

Project Vulindlela
This combined R7,7bn investment is aimed at increasing capacity, improving global competitiveness and significantly reducing the environmental footprint, along with equipment and process upgrades.

The benefits of Project Vulindlela include:-

• CO2 emissions will be halved,
• SO2 emissions will be reduced by 37%.
• Water use efficiency will improve by 17%.
• Waste to landfill will be reduced by 48%.
• Increase the mill’s Dissolving Pulp production capacity by 110,000 tons per annum – from 780,000 tons per annum to 890,000 tons per annum.
• Create employment for 2 000 people during the construction phase.
• Create additional future permanent employment for 120 people.
• Save the company around R300m per annum through improved and more efficient processes.
• KwaZulu-Natal Province will earn an additional R1 billion per annum direct benefit to the economy.

Upon completion of this project the company will be better placed to meet its future emission reduction targets which are aligned with the global Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) objective to limit the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C or 1.5°C.

The Saiccor mill uses renewable woodfibre sourced from South African plantations to manufacture Dissolving Pulp (DP).

The Sappi Saiccor mill turns woodchips into Dissolving Pulp, which is used in the manufacture of viscose fibre used in textiles, and many other industrial products.

DP is used mostly to make viscose fibres for use in textiles, offering a sustainable and renewable alternative. Viscose is a versatile and beautiful fabric which is highly moisture-absorbent and cooler on the skin; it is luxurious and soft to the touch and also drapes very well.

Besides textiles, higher cellulose content DP is used in many other application – from industrial products such as the cord used in tyres, rayon staple for high-quality fabrics, non-woven applications in the healthcare, industrial and disposable product market, acetate, microcrystalline and other speciality products.

The Vulindlela project expansion and upgrades will include a new evaporator, recovery boiler, screening and washing plant, as well as upgrades to the bleach plant and pulp machines, improved recovery circuits and additional magnesium digesters. The capacity expansion project is expected to be completed around June/July 2021 along with substantial completion of the other related items. The upgrade to the pulp machine 4 consisting of the screening plant, extended nip press, baling line and winder upgrade have been successfully completed, commissioned and are in operation.

Related article: New leadership at Sappi Forests



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