Ardagh Glass Packaging-Africa has expanded its Nigel glass container production facility in Gauteng, South Africa, with a third furnace. Credit: Ardagh Group S.A.
The Nigel 3 (N3) expansion project follows a second furnace expansion completed in 2022. Credit: Ardagh Group S.A.
The new furnaces at the Nigel facility produce flint (clear), amber and green glass. Credit: Ardagh Group S.A.

Ardagh Glass Packaging-Africa (AGP-Africa), a subsidiary of Ardagh Group, has constructed a third furnace at its glass container production facility in Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa.

The Nigel 3 (N3) expansion project was announced in 2022 and follows a previous expansion, Nigel 2 (N2), completed during the same year. Developed with an investment of R1.5bn ($80.39m), the N3 expansion project was completed in November 2023.

The expansion increased the site’s capacity by 50%, making it the largest facility in AGP-Africa’s network as well as in Africa. It also increased AGP-Africa’s overall production capacity by 10% and enabled the company to produce sustainable packaging solutions in response to growing customer demand.

The twin expansion efforts have resulted in the creation of approximately 300 direct jobs in the Nigel area, alongside substantial indirect economic benefits through supply-chain expenditures within the local communities.

The investment is underpinned by long-term customer agreements and is consistent with Ardagh’s strategic commitment to invest in the South African glass sector.

Ardagh Glass Packaging-Africa’s expansion details

The expansion project added a new regenerative end-port furnace with a melting area of 150m² (1,614ft²) housed in a purpose-built structure and four production lines. It increased the Nigel facility’s production area by 24,400m² and its warehousing area by 24,000m².

Construction of the furnace was completed within an estimated 12-month period. Additionally, the expansion added a supplementary off-line applied ceramic label (ACL) decoration line, featuring two screen-printing machines.

Boosting systems, a SCADA WinCC control system, glass conditioning and machine cooling systems, throat and tank cooling systems and four forehearths were also installed. Batch charging is managed by two oscillating push chargers.

The furnace is equipped with advanced model-predictive controls that enable better control and response to the changes in the glass-making process. It primarily manufactures green and flint container glass and utilises natural gas as the primary energy source, with the option of an electric boost to enhance glass quality.

Sustainability features

The Nigel facility boasts of significant energy and water efficiency advancements, along with environmental enhancements aimed at decarbonising the glass production process and reducing emissions.

The new furnace is designed to be highly energy-efficient and is incorporated with a low-pressure air-compression system that can improve energy efficiency by up to 20%. An electrostatic precipitator (ESP) is also installed to cut down on particulate emissions significantly.

The furnaces at the facility are capable of operating with up to 90% cullet or recycled glass, depending on the colour being produced and the cullet’s availability. The newly built furnace is, however, expected to have lower recycling rates as it primarily produces flint glass, which is less readily available for collection in the South African market.

Product portfolio

The Nigel glass production facility produces flint (clear), amber and green glass. More than 130 standard glass bottles and jars in 250 unique designs and finishes are produced at the facility in sizes ranging from 120ml to 4l.

The glass packaging is mainly supplied to the beverages, food, spirits, wine and pharmaceuticals sectors.

Contractors involved

Nikolaus SORG, a glass melting furnaces and glass conditioning systems supplier and part of the SORG Group, was responsible for designing and delivering the N3 project including the design of refractory, furnace steel and platforms and delivery of its 340S+® forehearths.

EME, a subsidiary of SORG Group, integrated the new furnace with the existing batch house through a redundant batch transport system and supplied two CPO 650D® batch charging machines.

SKS, a subsidiary of SORG Group, was responsible for the steel and refractory construction and supplying 400t of steel.

Marketing commentary on Ardagh Glass Packaging-Africa

Ardagh Glass Packaging-Africa is a subsidiary of Ardagh Group, a leading global provider of sustainable, infinitely recyclable metal and glass packaging solutions.

The Nigel glass production facility was opened by Consol Glass in 2011. Consol Glass was acquired by Ardagh Group in 2022, following which it was renamed as AGP-Africa. The Nigel facility is one of 63 production facilities operated by Ardagh across 16 countries.