Sable Chemicals Green Ammonia Project

Project Background

Sable Chemicals is the sole primary manufacturer of Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer in Zimbabwe. Sable Chemicals has an installed production capacity of 240,000 t.p.a. and commenced operations in 1969. At inception, Sable wholly imported its ammonia requirements (a key feedstock for the production of Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer) from international sources through the port of Maputo and later and up to this day, via South Africa.

Taking advantage of the then cheap and abundant source of hydro electricity from the newly commissioned Kariba dam, Sable established an electrolysis plant in 1972, to produce carbon-free ammonia on site. The plant in itself was unique and ground- breaking in many respects and was for many years the largest electrolysis plant in the world. The plant is considered a forerunner of the ‘green ammonia’ initiatives currently underway globally.

The development of Sable Chemicals played a key catalytic role in the development of Zimbabwe’s agricultural and mining sectors leading to Zimbabwe’s so called ‘Green Revolution’ in the 1970’s and contributing significantly to the country being termed the “Bread- Basket of Africa”. The Sable Chemicals installation can be said to have been a forerunner of the current generation of ‘green ammonia’ plants which produce ammonia (a key raw material for the production of fertilizer) through renewable means.

Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector has been in a state of transition over the past two decades, which has seen new agricultural concepts, being developed albeit, with significant disruption to existing business models. However, agriculture still plays a pivotal role in Zimbabwe’s economy providing a source of livelihood for approximately 70% of the country’s population.

Sable Chemicals provides a unique opportunity in-so-far as the investment thesis covers the incorporation of new and upgraded electrolytors and sources of renewable energy into an existing plant. Sable has a 40- year track record in operating its electrolysis plant for the production of ammonia.