The rapidly increasing bitumen price is less of a concern to bitumen suppliers than the recent slowdown in South African road construction, sayscivil engineering firm Colas South Africa commercial, communication and marketing manager Herman Groenewald.
Bitumen prices have increased by more than R2 000 a ton since March this year and could possibly increase again in November, he notes.
These price increases are linked to crude oil prices and the rand-dollar exchange rate – none of which have been favouring South Africa in recent months.
“The prices are not really a problem for bitumen suppliers, as we adjust our rates every month,” explains Groenewald.
“However, for local authorities with fixed budgets, it does become a problem as they can now do less work for the same budget.
Also, there are currently no problems with bitumen availability, as was the case a few years ago. In fact, most refineries have bitumen surpluses.
The low activity in the South Africa roads construction industry is, however, a problem for bitumen suppliers.
“Even worse, this trend is expected to continue into 2019 as there are very few new government road construction projects on the horizon.”
In an environment where few new roads are being built, one important focus is on the maintenance and care of the existing roads.
Groenewald says Colas’s MSP3 rejuvenator is one of its low cost solutions whereby the life of a road can be extended. MSP3 rejuvenator is an inverted emulsion of bitumen, solvent and selected heavy oils, specifically designed to rejuvenate aged bituminous surfaces.
It conforms to SANS 4001BT5:2014 requirements.
“The product is ideally suited to rejuvenating aged chip seals that are showing early signs of cracking and chip loss. The oil fraction of the MSP3 does not evaporate upon curing of the emulsion and permanently softens the aged binder in a surfacing operation.
“Experience has shown that small hairline cracks on roads can close up under traffic, after treatment with MSP3,” explains Groenewald.
A large proportion of the Namibian national road network has, through the years, been treated with MSP3 rejuvenator.
“Experience in Namibia has shown that roads with sufficient surface texture can be treated two to three times with MSP3 rejuvenator, before a reseal is required. The effective life span of the treatment is longer than three years,” says Groenewald.
Colas South Africa in September sprayed the runway of the Millvale Private Golf Estate, near Koster, in the North West. Other application sites include a number of airfields, such as Ysterplaat, Somersveld and Upington.