JOHANNESBURG, May 31 (Reuters) - South African petrochemicals group Sasol will apply to postpone a 2020 deadline for meeting stricter air pollution laws, the company said on Wednesday.
South Africa, the continent's worst polluter and most advanced economy, emits millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, much of it from coal-fired power plants that still provide most of its energy.
Sasol said it would apply for a postponement for some of its plants to 2025 when it would be able to meet most of the new plant standards.
"The reason for postponements is in order to help us or give us time or provide the opportunity to implement the projects over a period of time," said Sasol executive vice president for operations, Bernard Klingenberg.
The company said challenges in reducing sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide emissions could further delay compliance past 2025 and may require further reprieves.
"There will be postponement applications again, particularly in SO2 (sulphur dioxide) and H2S (hydrogen sulphide), where today we don't have credible viable solutions and we need to work on those," said Klingenberg.
The Department of Environmental Affairs had granted postponements in 2015 to applicants including Sasol, Eskom and Anglo American Platinum until 2020 to comply with the new minimum emissions standards for air quality laws.
"The large majority of the minimum emissions status for 2015 we were able to comply with but in some areas we need time to implement projects," said Klingenberg.
South Africa's government wants to reduce harmful emissions by 34 percent by 2020, with the minimum emissions standards for air quality laws covering particulate, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Mark Potter)