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Towns & Cities in and around the Vaal

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Sasolburg is named after a petroleum company: South African Coal, Oil and Gas Corporation (Sasol). The town was formally established in 1954 to act solely as a company town for the employees of the Sasol’s oil-from-coal plant. Today, Sasol employs some 5 500 people on its Sasolburg site. Overall growth and development in Sasolburg was only really encouraged from the 1970s after the town was given official municipal status on 12 May 1967.


Sasolburg is truly a chemical city and despite the diversification of the industrial and commercial base since its establishment, its economy remains heavily reliant on Sasol Chemical Industries. Fairly recent estimates put Sasol’s (including all their operations in Sasolburg) contribution to the total Sasolburg economy at between 50% and 60% of the town’s GGP. This translates into a total contribution to Sasolburg’s GGP of between R3 - R4 billion annually.


The town is located 14km south west of Vereeniging and 12km south of Vanderbijlpark on the Free State side of the Vaal River. It has a population of 34,000 people and the nearby township of Zamdela, has a population of 90,000.


The growth of the town paralleled that of the Sasol factory. The town was built on three basic aspects of town planning; firstly, the establishment of comprehensive main routes to allow free traffic movement; secondly, the development of self-contained residential areas; and thirdly, the creation of a cohesive central business district. Green belts and parks formed an integral element in both the residential and business areas.

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Sasol created a specially designated company, Sasol Infrachem, with a R2 billion plus annual budget, to abstract river water, treat sewage, purify effluent and even reticulate electricity at cost price. In effect, it has become an industrial municipality for Sasolburg’s community and for other industries in the area. It is also involved in rejuvenation of the local area and promotes entrepreneurship in the local Zamdela township.
Other large companies in the area around Sasolburg include:

Karbochem (a division of Dow Sentrachem) which manufactures and distributes synthetic rubbers, mining chemicals, agricultural and industrial chemicals.

Omnia Fertilizer which produces around a third of all fertilizer consumed in South Africa. The factory is also a major producer of explosive and chemical materials for other companies in the Omnia Group.

Dow Plastics (a division of Dow Chemicals) which is one of the largest transnational chemical companies in the world, producing a range of products from agricultural chemicals to resins, plastics, rubbers, detergents, ammonia, and chlorine-based chemicals and speciality chemicals.