LONDON—Progress continues on a new multimillion-dollar latex and natural rubber processing facility for Corrie MacColl Ltd. in Cameroon that's slated to be operational later this year.
The London-based company said the location at its Sudcam plantation will supply both the North American and European dipping and specialty products markets.
The project, expected to be finished during the third quarter, will take a total of 20 months to develop at a cost of $16 million and have annual production capacity of 45,000 metric tons.
Featuring 100 kilowatts of solar power, the location also will recycle 100 percent of its effluent water and feature rainwater harvesting. The location also will have its own wastewater treatment plant.
Built at Corrie MacColl's Sudcam plantation in Meyomessala, Cameroon, the new plant will rely on trees at that facility as well as production from nearby local farmers.
The plantation has about 4.7 million trees planted. But because it takes years for rubber trees to start producing, processing at Sudcam is only now starting to ramp up, said Ryan Wiener, global head of marketing for Corrie MacColl.
Limited output from the plantation currently is being shipped to the company's Hevecam plantation, also in Cameroon, for processing. But once the new facility comes online later this year, Corrie MacColl will be able to handle that work at Sudcam.
Most of the output from Sudcam will remain in liquid latex form to supply, but some of the material will be transformed into dry rubber.
"It's all coming into production over the next couple of years, which will then feed the Sudcam factory," Wiener said.
Corrie MacColl sees its investment in Cameroon as part of a strategy to satisfy demand in both the European and North American markets. With China expanding its rubber holdings across Asia, having a supply chain coming from West Africa provides Corrie MacColl with a strategic location to service those two geographic areas.
"We're basically trying to add to the security of the supply for the European and North American markets. As China expands across all of Asia, they are lapping up and taking charge of the world's natural rubber supply," Wiener said.
The company already had decided to place more of an emphasis on latex production to serve the dipping markets, including gloves and prophylactics. But the COVID-19 outbreak has proven the strength of that strategy, Wiener said.
Responding to critics
Halcyon Agri Corp. Ltd., parent to Corrie MacColl, purchased the Cameroon plantations in late 2016, and it was not long before the company realized it had stepped into a mess, he said.
Within months, the company was being heavily criticized by environmental groups for practices prior to when Halcyon Agri took control. After being battered around, the company stepped back and examined operations, ultimately agreeing to a variety of environmental protections, Wiener said. That included no more clearing of land that took place under previous management.
The company spokesman said it now enjoys working relationships with non-government organizations that in the past have been critical of the Cameroon project, but that one group continues to hammer the company: Greenpeace.