The Coega Industrial Development Zone in Nelson Mandela Bay is now deemed the most successful Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on the continent with 40 operational investments valued at approximately R6.996-billion and a further 22 investments in progress.

Utshongo unveils plan to put up PET plant at Coega

UTSHONGO Polytech has lifted the lid on its ambitious plan to construct a PET manufacturing plant at the Coega IDZ near Port Elizabeth in what is estimated to be a R1,3-billion undertaking

“We are going ahead with the project,” said Mphumezi Penny of Utshongo, based in Midrand.

“The South African PET market needs a second supplier. The country cannot have a single supplier, that risk is huge. A significant amount of PET is imported into SA and we are confident we will replace these imports, it’s good for the country and for PET convertors,” added Penny, who was formerly at Hosaf (now the Safripol Durban PET manufacturer).

Chemtex Global Corporation (USA) has been nominated as the technology provider, contracted to supply a turnkey plant to produce 240 000 tpa of PET. The plant will produce all grades of PET required by the sub-Saharan market, including CSD grade; fast-reheat grade, that is now widely used in SA; low IV grade for the still water bottling industry; bio-PET grade using bio-MEG (modified ethylene glycol) originated from renewable plant sources. The latter grade of PET is a way of reducing the carbon footprint, said Penny.

Siting the plant at the Coega Industrial Development Zone is seen as an advantage as incoming materials (MEG and purified terephthalic acid) will be transported by a 3km pipeline from the deep-water port.

“It is possible to dock any size vessel and that means we will have no limitation in terms of shipment that we will bring into SA. More importantly, Port Elizabeth is perfectly located to transport PET to the Western Cape to serve convertors there, and there are also PET users close to PE. Exporting to other coastal African countries will be a lot easier, and this market is known to us. There is no reason to not supply,” said Penny.

The socio economic benefits of the project for PE are huge, he added. These include direct permanent jobs; skills development for graduates from University of Nelson Mandela Bay; in-service training for artisans, electricians, chemists, engineers and finance; and the creation of new entities that will create new additional jobs in logistics, security and cleaning services.

“We have already started talking to various PET convertors and the support is amazing, confirming the need for a second producer. We have also secured raw materials supply for the project,” he added.

“In addition to the above, I want to say we are serious about the environmental impact that PET bottles have on our environment. To this extent, we will invest heavily in a high-tech recycling plant/technology.

“Given that PET is commodity, competition with Safripol is unavoidable. Who is best placed to compete with them, a foreign or local company? We know the industry very well, and our objective is to deliver exactly what customers want and nothing less than that.

  • Besides its core mining operations, Utshongo (established in 2012) has expertise in plastics technology and is involved in PVC tile production.