President Cyril Ramaphosa has hailed the opening of the R7.7 billion Sappi Saiccor Mill modernization and expansion project in Umkomaas, KwaZulu-Natal.

The Sappi Saiccor Modernization and Expansion Project aims to increase the capacity and global competitiveness of the Sappi Saiccor Mill, as well as create employment opportunities in the short and long term.

The project marks the fulfillment of commitments made by the company at South Africa’s first investment conference in 2018, when President Ramaphosa called for investment in the South African economy.

The first investment conference was convened with the aim of attracting 1.2 trillion rand in new investment over five years, and four years later investment commitments of more than 1.1 trillion rand were reached.

On Tuesday, President Ramaphosa said the opening of the project demonstrates what the commitments made at the investment conference really mean.

“Today we observe not only financial investments. We see investments in infrastructure, people, innovation, technology and sustainable development. These are investments in the development of society, in the local economy, in our export potential and in the industrialization of our economy,” said the President.

The Sappi Saiccor Mill is a major player in the KwaZulu-Natal province, contributing more than R6.7 billion annually to the local economy. The enterprise employs more than 1,200 people and 700 contractors.

The President noted that this and many other projects are an example of the effectiveness of investment activities. He said these projects show that South Africa’s economy is on the road to recovery.

“These investments are made possible by a partnership between government and business to drive growth and industrial development.

“The opening of this expansion project is the result of hard work, perseverance, corporate vision and, above all, a testament to the enduring commitment of companies like Sappi to South Africa and its people,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said the project supports a number of the country’s national economic priorities.

First, he said, it supports sustainability and the move towards a circular economy.

“This facility supports our national carbon reduction targets. I’m told that using the best available technology, the aim is to halve CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, significantly reduce CO2 emissions from factories, reduce water consumption and reduce coal ash waste to landfill by 48%.

“Significantly, Sappi continues to use recycled and sustainable wood to produce circular, innovative bioproducts,” he said.

Secondly, the President noted, this project contributes to enrichment.

“Through this mill, Sappi takes the product from the soil of South Africa and produces soluble pulp.

“Moreover, this plant creates jobs, develops skills and adds economic value to important raw materials,” the President said.

The project contributes to the further development of rural areas and entrepreneurship by providing a large amount of raw materials from rural communities.

The president added that the realization of Sappi’s investment in Umkomaas sends the strongest signal that “our home-grown multinational companies are taking the lead in investing in our economy.”

He said this demonstrates the confidence of other potential investors that South Africa is indeed a favorable place to invest and do business.

“It shows that you are ready and willing to play your part in growing our communities by employing more people and providing more opportunities for small businesses.

“I look forward to the expansion and success of this project and witnessing its benefits to the people of Umkomaasa, the economy of KwaZulu-Natal and the progress of our country,” he said. –

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