Lanxess to invest in chrome plant

23 February 2012

German specialties chemicals group Lanxess have announced that they are investing €40 million to build a CO2 concentration unit at their South African site in Newcastle. At this site, the group operates a highly modern plant, that mainly produces Sodium Dichromate, which is further processed into chrome tanning materials for the global leather industry. It is the only site of its kind in South Africa. The production technology requires permanent supply of highly concentrated CO2.

Lanxess are the world’s only company to cover the entire value creation chain for chrome-based leather chemicals. Lanxess operates a chrome ore mine in Rustenburg, making the company independent of external raw material suppliers. The chrome ore is processed in Newcastle into chrome chemicals, out of which high-grade tanning raw materials are made at the Lanxess site in Merebank, Durban, to serve the global leather industry.

‘This investment further strengthens our unique value creation chain for chrome-based specialty chemicals here in South Africa and underlines our strong commitment to the country and the community of Newcastle,’ says Karl Gassen, Managing Director of Lanxess in South Africa.
‘This investment in South Africa marks another step within our BRICS strategy,’ says Rainier van Roessel, Member of the Board of Management at Lanxess. ‘It allows the best possible capacity utilisation of our Newcastle plant and sets the basis for future expansion of our production.’

With its own CO2 concentration unit, Lanxess will become independent of the delivery capacity of external suppliers who provided the CO2 up to now. Construction of the new unit will start in the first quarter of 2012, and commissioning of the unit is planned for the second half of 2013. The investment will create up to 10 new jobs at the site.
Lanxess’ Sodium Dichromate production is based on CO2 pressure saturation, in which CO2 is used to convert Sodium Monochromate into Sodium Dichromate. The new unit will capture and filter exhaust air from the sites’ steam production process, concentrate the CO2 level up to 99% and feed it into the production process.
‘By using our own exhaust air to cater for the CO2 demand we cut down the CO2 emissions of our Newcastle plant by around 25%,’ says van Roessel. The overall capacity of the Newcastle plant is around 70,000 tonnes of Sodium Dichromate per year.
Lanxess (Pty) Ltd is headquartered in Johannesburg. The group has approximately 1000 employees in South Africa with 120 of them based at the Newcastle site.

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