South African entrepreneurs stand to make a fortune out of the millions of tons of coal ash produced by the country’s generators annually.

This is according to the South African Coal Ash Association (SACAA) which has partnered with government to increase ash usage by 20% of offtake as well as create 26 000 new jobs over the next 5 years.

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, such as Eskom and Sasol, via their boilers.

Many applications for ash

As the second biggest waste stream, after organic waste that is sent to landfill, coal ash is fast becoming a problem for the country which is running out of space to dump the ash.

“First and foremost, we need ash to be excluded from the classification of hazardous waste.  There is a plethora of research which has been completed which shows that there are many applications of ash which are not harmful to the environment or health,” says Hunter.

He continues: “It is only when ash is stored for extended periods that it may have an impact on the environment.  Next, we will need to continue working with formal industries, such as mining, construction and the cement industries to find all possible avenues to utilise ash.”

Be a part of the solution

Hunt believes that reaching the 20% target is not only possible, but probable if some viable alternatives can be found to dumping.  He adds that start-up ash operations can expect some kind of assistance from Government, generators, SACAA and academics to extract the maximum potential out of ideas that are deemed to be viable.

“We therefore call on creative and technical people, as well as business people and entrepreneurs, to come forward and be a part of the solution,” he concludes.