By Wellington Zimbowa
LAFARGE Cement Zimbabwe’s ambitious project to conquer the market has been set rolling following the historic groundbreaking ceremony for a US$2 million dry mortar mix plant (DMX) that will boost cement and agriculture lime production capacity by close to 1000 percent (%) by mid this year.
The DMX project is the first leg of the LafargeHolcim subsidiary’s massive US$25m Limited Expansion Project, as that is expected to double business size by 2022, while contributing to the country’s Vision 2020 agenda.
The historic project was approved by the parent company’s Regional Middle East and Africa Head Milijan Gutovi, who made a courtesy call to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, highlighting the company’s commitment to support government’s economic turnaround effort.
Currently, the company produces 7 000 tons of Dry Motor Mix Plant (DMX) products namely tile grout, cement based paints, agriculture lime and water proofing compound, according to Mrs Nyika the company’s new boss.
In her speech at the groundbreaking ceremony, she said the initiative will rocket production to 50 000 per annum.
This game changer initiative marks a strong 714% production boost with huge turn around expectations, both for the country and the company.
With a six-month completion timeline, the new plant will position the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed entity to complete the whole manufacturing processes on site – from raw material preparation to mixing, packing palletizing and shrink-wrapping.
“This project is a product of an ambition to be the leading building solutions provider in Zimbabwe and comes at an investment of US$25m.
“It is one of the three major project approved by Lafarge Holcim mid-last year, which includes additional cement milling capacity, as well as, additional capacity for Agricultural Lime production.
“Lafarge has been manufacturing Dry Mortar Mix (DMX) products for a number of years now albeit, at a small scale, competing side by side with other local suppliers, as well as, imported products,” she said.
Bought from Turkey, the modern automated high – end machinery is already on its way and installation is set for April 2020, while the plant is expected to be commissioned this April, revealed the former Lafarge Human Resource, Strategy and Communications head.
She paid tribute to the parent company for the trust bestowed on her and was adamant of delivering beyond expectations, albeit the harsh operating economic environment.
She counted on her vast experience in mobilizing people and strategy to achieve set goals emphasizing that motivation of employees was very key in attaining the tall order.
“I feel very honoured to be the team leader for this grand project and I am very confident of the commitment of key stakeholders including ‘mother company’, government, partners and employees,” she added.
She also paid tribute to government‘s support through according a National Project Status to the expansion project.
Through this support, Lafarge enjoyed limited duty wavering for key capital machinery and assistance in seeking investors in the project.
The Business Leadership Harvard graduate said without government support, the project couldn’t have taken off at this short time period as duty is needed in forex.
Different stakeholders in the construction industry, captains of industry, government representatives, including Ministry of Industry and Trade’s permanent secretary and representatives from the French Embassy graced the event.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube was the guest of honour while the Lafarge board members also graced the event held this Wednesday at the Mabvuku based Manresa Plant.
In his remarks Professor Ncube highlighted that government’s support to the company indicates that Zimbabwe is open for business was not a mantra, but a reality.
He praised the company’s commitment to support government’s Transitional Stabilization Programme (TSP) to achieve a macro-economic turnaround.
“I understand that production of our Agriculture Lime will be ramped up, positively impacting on our agriculture and food self sufficiency.
“Dry mortars which will be manufactured on this site are primarily being imported today.
“This will indeed contribute to a favourable Balance of Payment position for our country,” he said in his key speech.
Established in 1956 with names changing from Salisbury Portland Cement to Blue Circle Cement, the Switzerland headquartered company is credited for achieving landmark construction projects, including Kariba and Cahora Bassa dams
PPC Cement and Swiss headquartered Gyproc Zimbabwe are the major competitors of Lafarge, in the country.
The former also commissioned a US$1m investment adhesives plant almost just a month ago.
By Wellington Zimbowa