Fly ash is produced by coal-fired power plants during the combustion of coal. This by-product has become a problem for South Africa’s power utility Eskom. To comply with laws to reduce fly ash emissions at the power stations, Eskom is selling some of the fly ash to cement manufacturers, but the remainder is buried or put in ash ponds.

The beneficiation of fly ash is becoming a lucrative economic opportunity for existing and new players, especially in Mpumalanga, where most of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations are located.

The Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA) is seeking investors to develop a fly ash beneficiation plant for the province. The proposed plant is to be built in Emalahleni.

The project is estimated to cost R17-million for a plant producing 500 tonnes per 9-hour production shift. The fly ash will be supplied by Eskom-owned power stations located in Mpumalanga. These include power stations at Matla, Kendal, Kriel, Duvah, Majuba, Thutuka and Hendrina.

“The plant will take advantage of the economic opportunities provided by the beneficiation of fly ash and contribute to economic growth and development in Emalahleni and Mpumalanga,” says Mr Paresh Pandya, Manager: Investment Promotion at MEGA.

Fly ash is successfully used to enhance the quality and economy of concrete. Other uses of fly ash include brick making, dam building and as a cement extender during the production of cement. According to Eskom, approximately 1.2-million tonnes of ash per year is sold to, amongst others, the cement industry.

Investors interested in the opportunity are encouraged to contact MEGA for more information.