Sable Chemicals on revival path

HARARE - Fertiliser-manufacturing firm, Sable Chemical Industries (Sable), has adopted a new business model in its quest for survival in the current harsh economic environment.

The Kwekwe-based company last week launched a new business model for the production of ammonium nitrate that is based on the full importation of ammonia, the main raw material in the manufacture of ammonium nitrate fertiliser.

This was after the discontinuance of the ammonia manufacturing facilities last month.

The ammonium nitrate is predominantly used in agriculture as a nitrogen top dressing fertiliser for maize, wheat, cotton and other crops. The product is also used in the manufacture of explosives in mining.

Sable chief executive Jack Murehwa said the new business model will help the company reduce its overhead costs — which have been weighing down the company’s profitability in the past few years.

“The importation of ammonia to produce ammonium nitrate is the short to medium term measure that we have adopted given our current circumstances, especially with respect to the serious power deficit in the country.

“For the long term, Sable will continue to work on its plans to commission new ammonia manufacturing facilities based on coal bed methane as the feedstock,” he said.

Until now, the bulk of the ammonia used in the manufacture of ammonium nitrate at the Sable Factory was made from facilities that relied on electrolysis technology that required up to 90 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

However, the current persistent and increasing power deficit has made the power-intensive electrolysis technology unsustainable. 

As a result, Sable — in consultation with the government and the national power utility, Zesa Holdings — made a decision to retire its ammonia manufacturing facilities.

Murehwa noted that the new business model adopted by Sable, based on the importation of ammonia, will require less than 10MW to operate the company’s fertiliser making plant in Kwekwe.

To support the new business model, the company has secured funding for the acquisition of additional tank cars to boost the volumes of ammonia to be imported and consequently, also increase the production volumes of ammonium nitrate to augment the needs of farmers.

Industry minister Mike Bimha said Sable occupied a strategic position in the country’s agro-based economy and its continued operation was necessary for the ultimate success of the government’s economic programmes and policies such as ZimAsset.

“You will therefore note the importance of the agricultural sector in any of the four clusters starting with food security at the household level and its impact on the other clusters.

“But what is poignantly clear in all this is the important position that Sable Chemicals occupies not only in the fertiliser value chain but the ultimate success of ZimAsset and the attendant 10-Point Plan as articulated by His Excellency President Mugabe,” he said.

Bimha said he was also gratified that there would be no shortages of ammonium nitrate on the market — good news to both the government and farmers who are being encouraged to increase crop production to ensure adequate food for the country and surpluses for export.

Comments (3)

Mubvumbi kuona mvura mumahobi eGudo!!

tabs - 1 December 2015

This is not a revival, its a downgrade. They used to manufacture AN isn't it ??? Now they cannot manufacture it anymore & have to resort to importing it !!!!

Mamo - 1 December 2015

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