New glass manufacturing plant opens in Gauteng

6th November 2007 By: Christy van der Merwe

Glass manufacturer PG Group on Monday officially opened a new R800-million float glass manufacturing facility in Springs, east of Johannesburg.

This plant, which forms part of a R1,2-billion investment that the company is planning over three years, operates two float lines, manufacturing 24 km of glass a day and 110 000 t/y.

Speaking at the opening of the facility, South Africa's Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka congratulated PG Group, calling the new plant "an amazing investment".

She added that the government recognised the contribution of the manufacturing industry, and the PG Group in particular, in reaching the growth targets that South Africa has set.

Guardian Engineers were responsible for the construction, which started in October 2005, and Teco were the major contractors. The project team was led by Bob Allen, and the project was completed on time and within 5% of the original budget.

PG Group CEO Stuart Jennings said that the company was working with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in developing an action programme for the enhancement of the manufacturing sector.

"What is required is an aligned economic strategy for manufacturing. Alignment between the Department of Finance, the Reserve Bank, the DTI, the private sector and labour," he said.

"The one dimensional benchmarks we focus on are not adequate for a developing economy with our legacy and shortage of skills. It is only when we formulate a vision equal to the Asian economies that we will see more investments of this nature," he added.

It opened on April 20, and is now in full production, manufacturing float glass, patterned glass, mirrors, laminated glass and sealant products, which supply the automotive, building and construction and infrastructure industries in Southern Africa.

Raw materials used in the manufacture of glass are sand, silica, dolomite, limestone, sodium carbonate, sodium sulphate, rouge and sulphate, as well as 25% recycled or reclaimed float glass. The furnaces, which reach 1 500 degrees Celsius, are fired using natural gas delivered from Mozambique through the Sasol gas line.

"The plant will continue to supply the country's needs for glass as a strategic item to the country's development. Without glass manufacture in South Africa, the building and motor industry would not exist as efficiently as they do, and we have spent large sums of money on capital equipment to ensure that our products meet every international standard," PG Group chairperson Ronnie Lubner reiterated at the opening ceremony.