A company funded by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) through its Black Industrialists Programme, Toronto Group, is in the process of constructing a multi-million rand green energy charcoal carbonisation plant in Wellington, in the Swartland Local Municipality of the Western Cape.

The construction of the state-of-the-art plant has been made possible by the funding of over R150 million from the dtic which comprises of a R50 million grant from the department’s Black Industrialists Scheme, and about R100 million loan from one of the dtic’s agencies, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

The Black Industrialists Programme is part of government’s efforts to accelerate the quantitative and qualitative increase and participation of Black Industrialists in the South African economy, selected industrial sectors and value chains.

The CEO of the Toronto Group, Mr Phillip Mulungo says once it is in full operation, the plant, where biomass materials will be processed to produce charcoal, will make his company to be one of the largest producers of industrial charcoal in the world.

“The fully-automated, state-of-the-art plant that we are in the process of building, will produce up to 15 000 metric tonnes of industrial charcoal per year.  That will transform us into being one of the largest producers of industrial charcoal in the world. As a matter of fact, we will be the largest in the continent, and in terms of mechanisation and industrialisation, we will be number four in the world,” says Mulungo.

He adds that 100% of the charcoal that will be produced at the factory will be exported to Europe,  60%, to the European Union and 40% to the United Kingdom.

“We are thrilled that we already have off-takers waiting for us to start the machines rolling and shipping products to them in Europe. In business, securing an export market for your products before you start the production is a huge competitive advantage and a commendable achievement,” says Mulongo

The company will be making use of a variety of invasive species as raw materials. These will be harvested from the riparian zones. These are available in abundance along the two rivers that pass through the area where the plant is located.

“We are an environmentally friendly, green energy project. By virtue of us removing invasive plants and using them as our raw material, we are actually creating two things at the same time; that is we are contributing to water preservation, and also encouraging and promoting the natural habitat that is providing space for animal life, particularly the birds,” explains Mulungo.

Mulungo is also excited about the job opportunities that his company will be creating through the manufacturing plant. 102 direct jobs will be created, and more than 400 people will be indirectly employed through the project to produce up to 1000 metric tonnes of different grades of charcoal per month that the company has set a target to manufacture. The first two carbonisers are scheduled to get running in June.

“The majority of the people that we will be providing employment to are currently not working. We will be creating an enabling environment for the small and medium enterprises to come into the space. These will be contracted to cut the invasive plants to provide our raw material, as well as the logistics companies that will be bringing in the raw materials from different sites,” states Mulungo.

He reckons the government support that his company has received will assist it contribute in transforming the industry, which he says is not only dominated by white-owned companies, but also suppliers from Namibia.

“The main players in the industry who are supplying SA are smaller players in Namibia, hence we will be the largest and only black owned industrial charcoal producers in the country. We have taken a conscious decision to also contribute in transforming the industry by contracting only women-owned logistics companies as our suppliers,” adds Mulungo.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Group, Mr Phillip Mulungo at the industrial charcoal manufactuirng plant that is under construction in Wellington, Western Cape.

Bongani Lukhele – Director: Media Relations
Tel: (012) 394 1643
Mobile: 079 5083 457
WhatsApp: 074 2998 512
E-mail: BLukhele@thedtic.gov.za
Issued by: The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)
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