Lafarge eyes 1mln tonnes milling capacity as President commission dry mortar plant

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President Mnangagwa at the Lafarge Dry Mortar Mix Plant commissioning

Davison Kaiyo

ZSE listed building solutions listed company Lafarge Cement has commissioned a new US$2.8m dry mortar plant, which is part of a US$25m expansion plan by the cement maker.

The commissioning of the plant follows the granting of the national status to the project and according to company chairman Kumbirayi Katsande, the investment is part of LafargeHolcim Group’s US $25 million three phased recapitalisation plan for Zimbabwe which was announced in 2019.

The new dry mortar mix plant which was sourced from Turkey, is the largest of its kind in Southern Africa, and is the first such plant installed in any LafargeHolcim operation in Africa.

The launch of the dry mortar mix plant precedes the Vertical Cement Mill project which is part of this expansion plan and is currently underway; targeted for launch in the first quarter of 2022.

According to Precious Nyika the company’s CE: “this is the first investment of this magnitude since 1956 when this plant was first installed.”

The national project status by the government enabled the company to benefit from incentives such as duty exemptions.

 “Throughout this project Lafarge received tremendous support from the Government to ease the process of making this investment possible. The Central bank ably led by Governor (John) Mangudya played a key role in ensuring that the foreign currency needed to fund this installation was availed,” she said.

The new plant, supplied by Turkish company Varlik supported by local companies in the installation, will sharply increase output of dry mortar products from 7,000 tonnes per year to 100,000 tonnes annually, equal to national demand. The range includes include tile adhesives, floor solutions, plasters, Agricultural lime and mortars (including 3D mortars), waterproofing solutions amongst others.

Current aggregate national demand for dry mortars is 100,000 tonnes, including imports from the region.

“This development will not only bring about import substitution, as imports constitute 40% of product supplied to the local market, but will create an export market for Lafarge into the region.”

According to Nyika a separate Vertical Cement Mill plant, is under construction and expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2022 as part of the expansion plan. Upon completion the plant will increase Lafarge’s annual cement milling capacity from the current 450,000 tonnes to 1 million tonnes.

“This capacity expansion translates to a guaranteed business growth opportunity for the partners in our value chain. Lafarge currently offers a range of dry mortar products which include the tile adhesive range known as Supafix which has made significant inroads in the individual home builders segment,” she added.

Speaking at the same occasion,  President Emmerson Mnangagwa commended the company saying it shows the confidence that the investors are showing in his government.

“This event is testimony that Zimbabwe is “Open for Business and dialogue. Our arms remain open to welcome investors from across the world. My government continues to implement a broad array of the ease and cost of doing business reforms and improving the overall investment climate,” he said.

Nyika said: “our expansion project is indeed in line with the Agriculture Recovery Plan (2020–2023). As a key producer of Agricultural Lime, the expansion project brings to life one of the principles, which is the Blitz Soil Conditioning Programme.”

Lafarge currently contributes 25 percent of the total lime demand.

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