Coega SEZ receives EIA approval for desalination, aquaculture zones

19th February 2018 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Contributing Editor

The Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ), in the Eastern Cape, has received environmental-impact assessment (EIA) approval for a 440 ha land-based aquaculture development zone (ADZ) and a desalination plant in Zone 10 of the Coega SEZ.

“The approval of the EIA is a step towards fulfilling the Coega SEZ’s vision to host one of the largest ADZs in South Africa and, simultaneously, respond to the severe water shortages experienced in the Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB),” Coega Development Corporation (CDC) project development manager Dr Keith du Plessis said in a statement issued on Monday.

Failure by especially smaller companies to obtain EIA approval often result in projects never seeing the light of day, and has been identified as a key reason the aquaculture sector in South Africa is largely untapped and underperforming.

“The approved EIA relieves the financial burden from the investor, as it would ordinarily take up to two years for companies seeking to establish an aquaculture facility or a desalination plant at the Coega SEZ [to obtain approval].”

The NMB municipality, in February, announced that the water levels of the metro’s supply dams have reached an all-time low of just above 24%. The CDC now has authorisation to develop facilities for the desalination of water with a maximum capacity of 60 Mℓ/day.

This capacity, if tapped into, could provide almost one-quarter of the NMB metro’s current water consumption needs (currently at about 260 Mℓ/day).

Costs associated with desalination are often viewed as a major obstacle to an extensive roll-out of the technology; however, major strides have been made in this regard over the past few years that have seen costs coming down substantially, Du Plessis said.