Quality and innovation for more than a century

Since 1920, NTE’s culture of pioneering and innovation has made us a market leader in the tannin industry.

World-Class Facilities

NTE has two manufacturing plants strategically placed within close proximity to the raw material base making it one of the largest producers of mimosa vegetable extracts in the world.

NTE has access to 60,000 ha of wattle plantations managed on a sustainable and environmentally friendly 10-year cycle by its shareholders and bark suppliers.

NTE Factory

Research & Development

At NTE emphasis is put on research and Development to ensure that the company keeps ahead of market trends. It has at its disposal a fully equipped, state of the art, laboratory and research facility and a team of world-class chemists and technicians.

Wattle growers have benefitted enormously from research that has been actively supported for more than 50 years. Improved silvicultural techniques for growing the crop, genetically improved planting material, steady improvement of timber and bark yields as well as better resistance to diseases have resulted from this effort which has enhanced the competitiveness of the wattle industry as a whole.

NTE’s research and development is also to thank for its exciting range of innovative products.

Products & Applications

A range of specialized products: Through its subsidiaries, Mimosa and Bondtite, NTE produces a range of products that offer sustainable, environmentally friendly alternatives for a wide variety of industrial processes. Their applications include the tanning and re-tanning of hides and skins for the leather industry, adhesives for the timber industry, water treatment, mining products, and agricultural feed supplements. NTE products are sold to more than 50 countries world-wide.

A Brief History

Acacia Mearnsii is indigenous to Australia, and was brought to South Africa in c.1880. It was here that its commercial potential was first recognised. By 1884, the black wattle had been identified as the more valuable species for leather-tanning purposes, and within three years, wattle bark was being exported to England.

Wars slowed product development in the early 1900s, with a viable process for creating a tannin extract only emerging in 1913.

This proved timely. The outbreak of World War I two years later saw a sharp increase in demand for tannins. Being able to ship an extract, rather than raw bark, was ideal with shipping space suddenly being at a premium. The success of the mimosa extract led to the idea of a partnership between leading local producers. A factory was erected in Pietermaritzburg in 1915, and the Natal Tanning Extract Company Ltd. was formally established in 1920, with several more facilities being added in those early years.

Post-war depression, post-war boom

Post-war depression soon put the wattle trade under severe pressure. NTE consolidated in 1925 under the leadership of C.W. Biggs, operating three solid-extract factories and managing about 15,500 ha of land.

The next decade saw expansion into the North-East and Kenya, though Kenyan operations were eventually incorporated as a separate entity within then-owners Forestal.

The outbreak of World War II again saw NTE play an important role in supplying tanning materials to the Allies. The reopening of Europe after German occupation saw further increases in demand in the post-war period. By 1949, NTE production had reached 68,000 tons per annum and become the world’s most cost-effective and popular vegetable-tanning extract.

Recalibration & Renewal

NTE’s profitability in these years led to even further expansion in capacity in the 1950s, but drop in demand in the late 50s and early 60s led to considerable oversupply, and eventually the decision to downsize NTE’s facilities to only three factories, namely Iswepe, Melmoth and Hermannsburg, with an estimated installed capacity of 58,900 tons.

In 1969, Forestal was acquired by the UK-based Slater Walker Group of Companies, but the latter’s collapse amidst recession saw the Natal Tanning Extract Company acquired by Anglo American in 1974. In 1987, the name was officially changed to NTE Limited. In 1997, NTE was purchased from Anglo American, operating first as a cooperative, and by 2013 as the NTE Company (Pty) Limited.

Speak to us