Lafarge to increase Zimbabwe output

Lafarge to increase Zimbabwe output
Published: 14 October 2009

Lafarge’s Zimbabwe unit plans to increase cement output to 90 per cent of its installed capacity of 450,000t next year, the company’s managing director said on Tuesday.

Johnathan Shoniwa said Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe had this year raised production capacity to 72 per cent from 62 per cent in 2008, when the country struggled with hyperinflation.

The introduction of foreign currencies and scrapping of price controls had boosted the firm’s operations, Shoniwa said.

Lafarge Zimbabwe controls 40 per cent of the country’s cement market, competing with Chinese-controlled Sino Zimbabwe and a unit of South Africa’s Pretoria Portland Cement.

"Our target utilisation is 90 per cent and this is the optimum capacity... and in our budget we plan to achieve this in 2010," Shoniwa told Reuters in an interview.

"We have a totally new (operating) atmosphere and we can now plan and sell our cement at good margins."

Zimbabwe’s businesses in the past had been burdened by price controls and hyperinflation, which rendered the country’s currency worthless, forcing several companies to close or scale down operations.

Shoniwa said his company was less affected by power cuts and managed to stay afloat with support from parent company Lafarge.