Ash is the 21st century’s next big thing says SACAA

14 March 2019

With a little innovation and a sound business plan any South African stands to make a fortune out of the millions of tons of coal ash produced by the country’s generators annually.

Mark Hunger, General Manger SACAA

With mountains of ash available at all
of South Africa’s coal-fired power stations, Eskom, Sasol and other smaller
producers, there is no shortage of supply and anyone wishing to make use of the
‘Grey Gold’ is likely to get it at little or no cost provided they can prove
that they have viable usage and that their operation will generate revenue and

Already 10% of the total 50-million tons
of ash produced per year is used in the manufacture of cement powder and
concrete bricks for the building industry, as well as being used to treat acid
mine drainage and remediate soil for agriculture and other land uses. However, experts
have identified a host of other uses including alternative building products, volumisers for plastics manufacture,
contouring for road, rail and landscaping infrastructure, and many of other


Now, with Government’s assistance, the
South African Coal Ash Association (SACAA) has been given a target to increase ash
usage to 20% of offtake and to create 26,000 new jobs within the next five
years.  In addition, start-up ash
operations can expect assistance from Government, generators, SACAA and
academics to extract the maximum potential out of ideas deemed to be viable.

SACAA general manager, Mark Hunter, says
the association is looking for industrial entrepreneurs to assist in
identifying and developing viable business opportunities for the use of waste
ash generated by producers. As the second biggest waste stream (after organic
waste that is sent to landfill), coal ash is becoming a headache for the
country as space to dump the ash is running out.

He states that reaching the 20% target
is not only possible, but probable if more viable alternatives can be found to
dumping. This will require close cooperation between role players and speedy
facilitation between Government and other role-players who also fully
understand the urgency of the matter and will likely pull together to make it

Team effort

“First, we need ash to be excluded from
the classification of hazardous waste. Extensive research has shown that there
are many applications of ash which are not harmful to the environment or
health.  Next, we will need to continue
working with formal industries, such as mining, construction and the cement
industries, to explore all possible avenues to utilise ash.

“Simultaneously, we will also engage
with scientists and entrepreneurs to identify areas where ash can be used as
additives in manufacturing processes and as an end product. Then the race will
be on to industrialise these and we will facilitate and assist in every way to
make sure it is successful.

“As a part of the Department of
Environmental Affairs’ Phakisa program to reduce waste to landfill/ash dump/dam,
as well as create sustainable employment, we are confident of Government’s full
backing and that we will make a success of the project. We therefore call on
creative, technical and business people as well as entrepreneurs, to come
forward and be a part of the solution,” says Mark.


SACAA is the official industry
representative association for ash producers, marketers, users and individuals
involved throughout the entire ash supply chain. Producer members include
Eskom, Sasol and Kelvin Power station. Associate members include Ash Resources,
Ulula Ash, Afrimat, Afrisam Cement, Kwikbuild Cement, PPC Cement, Sephaku
Cement, NCP Cement and is supported by research organisations including the
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), consultants and

information from Mark Hunter, Tel: +27(0)83 631 0793 / email:
[email protected] /

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