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Salt companies rake in over N$130m

Mon, 26 September 2016 16:15
by Rodney Pienaar

The Walvis Bay Salt Holdings Namibia Ltd (WSHN) and the Swakopmund Salt Company Ltd (SSC) have raked in over N$130 million from trading on local and international markets in their last financial years.
The WSHN and SSC are the only two companies that are registered as salt producing and manufacturing companies in the country, and produced over 732 980 tons of salt in the last financial years. This was revealed by an economist of Namibia Chamber of Mines (NCM), Lauren Davidson.
“Walvisbay salt holdings produced 614,980 tonnes of salt in 2015, posting a reduction of 10.9% in output from 2014. The lower output was due to a one month strike that was in 2015 and the Swakopmund salt company production of salt increased from 107,458 tonnes in 2014 to 118,000 tonnes in 2015,” Davidson said.
She added that training programmes and strategies were introduced with a greater focus on operator and systems training. This was in line with the management strategy, ensuring that all systems in place are appropriate, functioning optimally as well as being used correctly for improved effectiveness and efficiency.
Both companies employ 122 permanent employees in total with the WSHN employing 85 and the SSC 87 employees currently.
The Villager found that major challenges faced by the salt producing companies are maintaining economics of scale, finding innovative means of how to optimize logistical cost, improvement on efficiencies within the production process and ability to meet ever increasing customer specifications.
“There was also a renewed focus on strengthening the skills of the employee representatives in line with the supervisory development strategy, as their influence and contribution to employee relations on site has become more prominent in the last few years,” Davidson said.
She added that the companies also introduced internships and apprenticeships across a number of disciplines to develop existing employees and future potential.
Speaking to the Villager, the Managing Director of WSHN, Andre Snyman explained that although the salt industry has performed well in the past, most of the salt is traded on the southern African markets but added that his company reached a milestone to export to European markets.
The company has so far managed to export 50 000 tons of salt to European markets the Villager learnt.
“Our company has succeeded in exporting the first ever cargo to Europe, being 50 000 tons. Main export countries are South Africa, West Africa countries such as Angola, Nigeria, Cameroon and Kenya. We aim to export to Latin America too but with marine tax being at 25 % of freight rate it is an obstacle,” Snyman said.
He added that value of 50,000 tons of salt, at current exchange rates, is about N$12 million and the company spent N$32 million on local goods and services in 2015.
The company also produces coarse salt at Walvis Bay through solar and wind evaporation for exports to South Africa as well as other markets. The coarse salt is also refined and beneficiated at the sister companies, Walvis Bay Salt Refiners (WSR) and Ekango Salt Refiners (ESR).
 However labour relations issues at the company were strained throughout 2015 and culminated in a month long strike. The reason for the strike was perceived salary discriminatory practices, which proved to be unjustifiable.
An agreement was concluded, however the tension resonated in relations throughout the year and negatively affected production, training initiatives as well as general management interventions and activities.