MEC Alan Winde applauds Oceana group for investing in desalination technology

Oceana Group’s investment in desalination plants applauded

Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde applauds the Oceana group for investing in desalination technology which will save municipal water and protect thousands of jobs.

The Oceana group, which has canning and fishmeal plants in St Helena Bay and Laaiplek, have invested in desalination technology to ensure that their business continues to function throughout the drought, thereby saving over 2 000 important jobs.

Oceana produces Lucky Star pilchards, a staple in many South African diets.

Phase one of the plan will see a R20 million desalination plant, capable of producing 800 000 litres of water per day, come online at their largest facility in St Helena Bay, by the end of March. This means that the factory will be able to function without drawing water from the municipal supply.

The second phase of the plan will consist of a desalination unit at their Laaiplek facility which will produce around 600 000 litres of water per day.

The company has also invested R2 million in a reverse osmosis plant and is currently exploring the possibilities around drilling boreholes on a nearby farm and routing the water to their St Helena factory.

Oceana is a major contributor to job creation on the West Coast and plays an important role in the economy. Its annual wage bill totals R200 million, and it spends a further R500 million on procuring goods in the Western Cape.

Taking themselves off the municipal water grid will also mean that more water is available to the communities in which the factories function.

Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde applauded the company for seeking out ways to continue doing business and save jobs.

This kind of collaborative approach between business and government is the key to finding solutions during this difficult period. This goes to show that saving water can save jobs, Minister Winde said.

It is imperative that businesses, municipalities and the Western Cape government work together to find innovative ideas to protect the economy and create resilient cities.

Oceana director Francois Kuttel said: Closing or mothballing these facilities would have a massive detrimental effect on these West Coast communities and the local economy.

The company also contributes to food security as Kuttel said Lucky Star produced 400 million meal portions for South Africans each year.

From a purely commercial point of view, water and energy saving initiatives may seem expensive to implement in the short term, however the long term benefits for the company and the communities where we operate far outweigh these costs, Kuttel said.

CEO of Wesgro, Tim Harris said: We applaud the Oceana group for taking proactive steps to become more resilient and sustainable, in light of the very serious drought being faced in the Cape. We are confident that if every person and business does their bit to save water and reduce their consumption, we will not only avoid day zero, but emerge stronger and more resilient from this drought.

Climate change and its effects are being felt around the world, and will be the new normal for many cities globally. If we become global leaders in resilience, we will become a beacon of hope for places around the world. We encourage companies to follow this good example, as we work together to build a stronger, more resilient economy, Harris said.

Source: Government of South Africa