Johannesburg, South Africa – Karbochem Ltd, South Africa’s only manufacturer of synthetic rubber, is halting its operations and SR production, according to chairman Abraham Brink.
In email correspondence with ERJ, Brink said the “circumstances beyond the control of the company” had rendered the production of synthetic rubbers unsustainable.
The management of the company, said the Karbochem chairman, is now in the process of “extricating” it from the rubber markets both locally and internationally.
“This process necessarily includes the shutdown of the manufacturing facilities in Sasolburg and Newcastle, which in turn will result in job losses not only in the production units themselves but all departments of the company,” Brink further explained.
According to Brink, the shutdown will be permanent.
Brink did not comment on the time-line for the closure of the plants, saying consultation process was underway with all employees and their representatives.
“The overall impact and the final conclusion of this process including the total number of employees affected has not yet been determined,” he added.
While Karbochem has not offered a reason for the closure, press reports have suggested feedstock access could be a key reason.
The company produces polybutadiene rubber, solution styrene-butadiene rubber and emulsion styrene-butadiene rubber at its two production sites.
The nominal capacities of the plants are: ESBR 30 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa), NdBR 30 ktpa and LiBR 20 ktpa.
The company supplied rubber to local tire producers, including Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Goodyear, Bridgestone and Continental.
"All other local retreaders and industrial goods manufacturers were customers too," Brink added.