'n Ekonomies-geografiese ondersoek na enkele aspekte van die petrochemiese nywerheid te Sasolburg
Schmitt, Reinhold Michael
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The petro-chemical factory at Sasolburg offers a diversity of fields of study. This economic-geographical research project covers only those aspects which are relevant to the field of Economic Geography. The availability of raw materials and an adaptable infra-structure can be described as locational factors for the Sasol I plant. The proximity of the Witwatersrand as a possible market contributed to the decision-making of the authorities. 'The site of Sasolburg was chosen in view of the coal reserves and water supply available and, of course, its proximity by rail and road to South Africa's main market of the Southern Transvaal' (De Villiers, 1970, p. 2). Sasolburg was a direct consequence of the founding of Sasol I as it was initiated by Sasol Townships Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sasol I. The private investor was encouraged to participate in the development of the township to prevent Sasolburg from becoming a 'closed town' like some known mining towns. Development in the area increased when Sasol I announced its first profit during 1960 (Sasol, Annual Report 1960, p. 4). The synchronization of the different plants contributed to the success achieved at Sasol I. Subsequently further expansion, which was to double the fuel and chemical production of Sasol I, was announced. The five original plants which had been erected at a cost of R60 million in 19 55 , became more than thirty interlinked plants representing a total capital investment of R300 million (Sasol, c. 1976, p. 8). Extensions to the Sasol I plant stimulated extensions in Sasolburg. According to the municipal property valuation roll the total value of properties amounted to R14 million in 1960. The increase in population exerted pressure on such matters as business, education, recreation and residential accommodation. Efficient planning had ensured that the growing demands of the population could be met. The increased production of Sasol I ultimately resulted in an extended marketing area. Because of the availability of new raw materials, various chemical manufacturers established factories in the vicinity of Sasol I. This research project was an attempt to prove the asymptotic tendency of commercial connections with Sasol I. Trade connections in the immediate vicinity of Sasol I revealed a tendency to become more and more important as economic development increased in the area. The Pretoria/ Witwatersrand/Vereeniging-complex, as the main marketing area of Sasol I, was responsible for 96 percent of the total sales for 1975. Other trade connections were mostly situated in the metropolitan areas of South Africa thus creating a fragmented field of influence. The intermediate parts of South Africa were responsible for only 1,3 percent of the total sales for 1975. Abler, Adams and Gould (1972, p. 255) substantiate the above mentioned view by stating that ' ... in some sense other than kilometers, the center is closer to remote areas, than to other apparently intermediate locations'. The majority of Sasol I products have to be further processed. Sasol I acted as a magnet for satellite factories to establish new plants as close as possible to the source of the raw material. During 1975 these new chemical manufacturers were dependent on Sasol I products for 71 ,4 percent of their raw material. The agglomeration of industries as a consequence of the presence of Sasol I is proved by the above mentioned. In addition to local and national markets, attention was given to the extent to which Sasol I had succeeded in contriving international liaison. Besides the exports of chemicals, it was found that Sasol I, as a consultant, played an important role in the field of coal beneficiation and liquefaction in the world. The decline in the production of natural oil might force the world to acknowledge Sasol I as a world leader in this field. The sensitivity of certain aspects of Sasol I hindered the delimitation of the total sphere of influence of the industry. This sphere of influence would only be complete if the settlement and the adjacent industries were to be included in depth in this research report; they, however, lie beyond the initial aims of this thesis.
- Humanities