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R16.5bn biofuel plants won't affect food security

Jan 14 2015 07:30
Edward West

Up to 4 700 tonnes per day of conala are planned to be processed per day, which in this country is more commonly known as canola.

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Pietermaritzburg - The two canola seed biofuels plants being developed at a cost of R16.5bn in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumulanga will not affect food security in this county.

This was according to Leslie Young, part-owner and director of Johannesburg-based Revelations Isambulo Holdings, which is a partner in the project with China International Development and Investment Corporation Limited (CIDIC) and Huntergreen Investcorp of Nigeria.

The plants should take about 18 months to complete once the environmental assessments that are underway are finished.

The project comes ahead of the government’s plan to allow biofuel blends from October 1 2015.

Up to 4 700 tonnes per day of rape seed are planned to be processed per day, which in this country is more commonly known as canola.

The aim was to produce 2.1 million litres of biodiesel and jet fuel per day, 1 800 tonnes of animal feed per day and 61 000 tonnes of glycerine per year.

New canola crops required

According to Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, South Africa produces less canola than the demand for it, with local consumption at around 24 500 tonnes per year in 2012, most of which is used to make canola oil and oilcake. Most canola is grown in the southern western Cape.

This indicates that substantial additional crops will be required to meet the needs of the biofuels plants.

Design: Matthew le Cordeur

Young said they had engaged with five communities in five provinces to begin canola seed production, and the first production was expected around March.

An estimated 25 000 additional agricultural jobs would be created once canola seed production gathered pace.

He said they were working closely with government on the project, and “they would never allow” the country’s food production to be affected by biofuels commodity production.

25 000 jobs for communities to grow rape seed

He said the communities were engaged to grow rape seed on a commercial basis and according to the appropriate environmental standards.

Young said there were many successful canola biofuels plants in the world, such, for instance, in China, India, Argentina and Brazil.

Revelations Isambulo Holdings is owned by three people, Young, the CEO Kelly Morekwa Lekoto who is an attorney, and Nkosana Zulu. It was involved in energy and fuels projects in other African countries, according to Young.

At the end of 2013, Isambulo had announced it was going to build a biodiesel plant in Gauteng, but this was abandoned after land ownership issues arose, said Young.

Boost for tribal trust

He said the new plants will be built in Amadlange Tribal Trust Village in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces, under the leadership of Inkosiu Ntsele (King Ntsele).

CIDIC would be the major shareholder with a 52% stake, Revelations Isambulo Holdings would hold a 30% stake, while Huntergreen Investicorp would hold a 10% stake.

The Amadlange Tribal Trust Village counsel would hold 8% of the two projects.

Oswald Wong, CEO of CIDIC said in a statement they were participating in various developments in Middle East and African, and were targeting to develop more African markets.

At least 50% of the workforce of the project would be from South Africa, which Young said was something they had to negotiate for, because the funders of the projects had initially wanted 100% of the project to be built by foreigners.

Job creation during the construction phase was expected to be around 500 new jobs for South Africans, he said.

biofuels  |  energy


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