Heavy rains experienced countrywide during the just ended summer season saw salt and soda ash production at the Botswana Ash (Botash) plunging in February and March, Voice Money has established.
Soda ash production fell to 12 500 tonnes and 17 500 tonnes in February and March respectively from an average of 25 000 tonnes under normal circumstances.
Besides a significant reduction in soda ash production, a noticeable decline was also realized in the production of fine and course slat between February and March.
The unremitting rains were brought about by Cyclone Dineo, which caused some destruction in Mozambique and some parts of Zimbabwe as well as South Africa.
Botash General Manager – Operations, Kangangwani Phatshwane confirmed to Voice Money that the rains that covered most parts of the country led to the slump in salt and soda ash production.
“Yes, the (heavy) rains affected production, as the plant feed brine was diluted,” confirmed Phatshwane when responding to a Voice Money questionnaire that sought to find out the impact caused by rains at Botash.
Phatshwane added: “Salt production was also affected, as the harvesting ponds were under water for longer than normal. Soda ash production was reduced to about 50percent and 70percent of capacity in the month of February and March respectively.”
Average monthly production for soda ash is 25 000 tonnes, he said.
He further revealed that fine salt production is estimated at around 7 000 tonnes per month while that for coarse salt is at 35 000 tonnes under normal circumstances.
Phatshwane revealed that the adverse effect created by the rains in February and March led to a decline to an average operating rate of 60percent, 50percent and 20perecnt for soda ash, fine and coarse salt in that chronology.
He said Botash however keeps stockpiles of products in order to sustain customers during low production times.
According to Phatshwane, Botash has since recovered to full production. “At this point in time, the business is producing at full capacity, which will increase the current stockpiles,” he quipped.