REGIONAL cement and lime manufacturer Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) says its $85 million cement plant in Harare would be completed in the first quarter of 2016.
PPC managing director Njombo Lekula told Southern Eye Business yesterday that construction was underway on a 700 000 tonne per annum cement mill in Harare and they were happy with the progress.
“Business is fine and the construction of the Harare mill is progressing well. We are already on site and we are hoping for the project to be completed by the first quarter of 2016,” Lekula said.
He dismissed rumours that PPC was mulling plans to shut its two cement plants in Bulawayo down.
“We are not closing any plant in Bulawayo. How can we do that after we have spent this much on them? We are here to stay,” he vowed.
There were rumours that PPC was mulling plans to shut the two Bulawayo cement plants down soon after the completion of the new Harare plant next year.
PPC is the country’s largest cement company with an annual capacity of 1,2 million tonnes and intends to double its capacity by building a clinker plant in Mount Darwin and cement crushing mills in Harare and Tete.
The company has cement manufacturing plants at Cement Siding in Bulawayo and Colleen Bawn in Matabeleland South.
Earlier this year, it secured $75 million to expand its Zimbabwe operations, with the bulk mainly going to the ongoing construction of the Harare plant.
The group said it committed R3 896 million capital expenditure last year compared to R1 088 million in 2013, mostly linked to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwean expansion projects with R2 246 million and R1 572 million expected to be spent in the 2015 and 2016 financial years respectively.
The group said Zimbabwe enjoyed a fifth consecutive year of rising cement demand, albeit on a slower growth trajectory than prior years.
In 2014, the group said it completed extensive upgrades of the Bulawayo plant, upgraded the crusher and kiln at Colleen Bawn.
The slowdown in economic growth caused by ongoing liquidity problems and high external debt levels will continue into 2015 and PPC indicated that it would focus more on expanding exports.