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Paper and packaging producer Sappi has announced close to R8-billion in planned investments in KwaZulu-Natal, focused around upgrades at the Saiccor mill in Umkomaas‚ south of Durban. These will include a R2.7-billion capacity expansion project as well a number of continuous improvement initiatives and upgrades.

“In addition to expanding capacity‚ Sappi is planning to invest R5-billion over the next five years through maintenance and upgrade projects to decrease production costs‚ introduce new technology‚ optimise processes and future-proof manufacturing systems at Saiccor Mill. These investments will secure the mill’s future by increasing its global cost competitiveness and significantly reducing its environmental footprint,” says Alex Thiel‚ CEO of Sappi Southern Africa.

Sappi to invest billions in KZN

The planned investment will increase production of elemental chlorine free dissolving wood pulp from 800 000 tonnes a year to 890 000 tonnes a year. Most of this is for the export market.

Cost savings as a result of this investment will be at least R300-million a year, according to Thiel. The upgrades will also result in carbon dioxide emissions being cut in half, waste to landfill reduced by 48%, sulphur dioxide emissions reduced by 35% and water use efficiency increased by 17%.

Sappi has invested R4.3-billion since 2012 to increase its dissolving pulp capacity in South Africa. The company has also invested in a Skills Centre near the Saiccor Mill, which has created training and opportunities for the workforce and for the local youth.

"Sappi‚ which contributes 1% of South Africa’s total foreign revenue from its South African operations and supplies the fruit export industry with most of their packaging requirements which contributes around 4% to the country’s foreign revenue‚ is pleased to be able to support President Ramaphosa’s call for significant investment into the South African economy,” says Sappi group CEO, Steve Binnie.

In a statement, KZN acting premier Sihle Zikalala said that it was heartening that businesses such as Sappi made commitments to the provincial economy. “We will continue to sell our province as a destination for quality investments. Working with central government‚ we will also continue to create an environment which is conducive for businesses to thrive. I have been assured that Sappi will work swiftly to obtain the necessary authorisation to make the company’s planned investments a reality,” he said.

Image credithttps://www.sappi.com/news-hub-south-africa

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