Production Capacity of Botswana Ash

Botswana Ash nameplate production capacity for soda ash is 300 000 tonnes per annum and for salt it is about 650 000 tonnes per annum. Currently, our salt production is around 450 000 tonnes per annum, made of 250 000 tonnes chemical salt, 200 000 tonnes coarse salt and 80 000 tonnes fine salt, and is limited by the market rather than production constraints.

Uses of Soda Ash

  1. Soda Ash and the Glass Industry

Glass production is the largest application for dense soda ash. About half of the soda ash produced worldwide is used in the manufacture of glass. In this application, soda ash is used as a fluxing agent in that it lowers the melting temperature of the raw material pure silica, thus reducing energy requirements for glass production.

Container glass covers a wide range of different products that include for example bottles, jars and ampoules. About 46% of all glass that is manufactured is used for container glass.

Flat glass accounts for 42% of glass production and includes items such as architectural glass, car windscreens, windows, mirrors and frames.

Other glass manufacture accounts for 12% of glass production and includes textile, fibre-optics and insulation fibre glass.

  1. Chemical Industry

Botswana Ash sells around 20% of its soda ash to the chemical industry sector. In this sector, both dense and light soda ash is used in a large number of chemical reactions to produce inorganic or organic compounds that are in turn used to in a range of different applications. It can be used to produce sodium silicates that have a wide range of uses in the production of chemicals such as silica. It also has application in pulp and paper manufacture.

  1. Detergent Industry

Light soda ash is used in powdered, paste and soap detergents where it acts as a builder and can be used alone or in conjunction with sodium tripoly phosphate (STPP) or zeolites. Additionally, it acts as a water softener and also has a cleaning function. Botash sells less than 2% of its production to this sector.

Soda Ash can further be used for;

  • the textile industry throughout the production process – as a cleaning agent, in refining and bleaching and adjust the pH during the drying process
  • Non-ferrous metallurgy for the recycling of lead from spent batteries and in the recycling of zinc and aluminium
  • water treatment as a source of sodium and to adjust pH
  • the mining sector in the beneficiation and processing of a wide range of mineral ores and metals such as vanadium ore beneficiation, the production of cobalt and in the production of steel as a flux or de-sulphuriser (removal of iron ore in blast furnaces), among other uses.
  • the production of dyes, corn syrups, and as a food additive and in the manufacture of ethanol.

SALT PRODUCTS 

  1. Chemical Grade Coarse Salt

The chemical grade salt contains 98.75% sodium chloride. This grade of salt accounts for about 50% of the total coarse sales volume. It is used primarily for the manufacture of poly vinyl chloride (PVC), which is an input in the production of chlorine and caustic soda.

  1. Coarse Salt

The coarse salt produced contains 98.5 % sodium chloride. Coarse salt is sold in the regional markets of Botswana, South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo and beyond the rest of Africa. The coarse salt has various domestic applications such as for the preservation of food products.

  1. Fine Salt

Fine salt (table or refined salt) contains 99.0 % sodium chloride. Like coarse salt, fine salt is sold in the regional markets of Botswana, South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo and Africa as a whole. It has various industrial and domestic applications.

Uses of Salt

In terms of industrial applications, some of the uses of salt include:

  • softening of “hard” water, which is removal of elements such as magnesium and calcium that contribute to water hardness
  • bleaching of pulp to manufacture paper
  • standardization of dyes batches in the textiles industry
  • a de-icer in Snow Belt areas in the developed world where snow is a common phenomenon.

For domestic purposes, salt is used;

  • As a food preservative
  • To add flavour to food as a spice
  • To carry essential nutrients such as iodine and selenium in humans and animals

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