PPC looking at growing exports as Pres Mugabe commissions Harare plant
HARARE – PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Thursday commissioned PPC’s US$82 million cement plant in Harare with a 700 000 tonnes production capacity per annum.
The Harare plant adds to PPC’s existing portfolio of operations in Colleen Bawn and in Bulawayo.
PPC Bulawayo and Harare plants are expected to produce a combined capacity of 1,8 million tonnes of cement per annum up from 1,1 million tonnes.
PPC Zimbabwe, general manager, Kelibone Masiyane said the new plant was aimed at servicing the northern part of Zimbabwe and Mozambique as the company drives at generating exports.
“This plant allows us to reach out to Mozambique from here than delivering from Bulawayo. So it is one of our strategies of generating the little forex that we can,” said Masiyane.
Masiyane said PPC was buoyed by various local construction projects on the cards expected to turn the fortunes for the cement manufacturer.
“When we look at the Zimbabwean climate, we look at a number of projects on the cards, the Beitbridge-Chirundu, the Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion and the Gwayi- Shangani Dam, so all we need is a couple of projects and we will be turning a corner,” said Masiyane.
Masiyane said PPC was running a cost efficiency business model and could survive when operating on low volumes.
“At the moment part of our launching strategy is to grow up here in the North because we have been dominant more in the South. In the North we have to be more aggressive so the ramping up of volumes will obviously follow the demand. So it’s going to take time, but at the moment we are enjoying cost efficiencies and delivering value to the customers,” Masiyane said.
Built by Sinoma International Engineering from China, PPC Harare plant is a state of the art, highly mechanised plant aimed at improving cement production efficiencies.
The new plant is expected to produce the new Surecast 42,5R fast setting cement that was also launched on Thursday.
PPC has not been spared by the current liquidity crunch where hard currency shortages have grossly affected the importation of critical spares and raw materials.
Masiyane said the company had come up with a cocktail of measures to cushion itself from foreign currency shortages.
“What we have seen is that since July last year the duration of processing payment getting longer. As a cement company we import most of our spares and what it has done is to slow down some of those processes-but we have come up with a contingency plan which has quite a number of options on how to generate our own forex,” Masiyane added.
PPC beamoned growing manufacturing costs, chief among them power tariffs that are higher than other regional players which has made it difficult to compete on the international market.
Speaking at the plant commissioning, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mike Bimha assured PPC that government would continue to implement import restrictions to cushion the cement industry from the influx of cheap imports.
Bimha said Statutory Instrument 125 of 2016 was already bearing fruit in ensuring that unfair competition from cheap imports was controlled.