Khaya Cement, the country’s second biggest producer, currently accounts for around 16%. In February, the company said it planned to double annual output to almost 500 000 tonnes by year-end. However, the company commissioned a new 1 million tonnes-per-year capacity plant last year, part of a US$25 million investment. But the plant is yet to deliver fully. Khaya’s kiln, which produces the clinker raw material used to make cement, has constantly broken down while there are concerns over limestone supplies.
Khaya is still recovering from a roof collapse in 2019 that stopped production for months, and produced 19% less cement last year. The company says it also “witnessed increased costs as a result of increased third-party and plant maintenance costs”.
Another producer, Sino Cement, is reportedly currently under routine maintenance. It has a capacity of 200 000 tonnes.
Zimbabwe’s cement companies are opposed to imports, saying they hurt their businesses which face higher costs.
“The influx of cheap imported cement posed a serious threat to the domestic industry which has enough capacity to meet national demand. Constructive engagement continued with the regulatory authorities in an endeavour to obtain the required support,” Khaya says in its 2022 financials.
PPC has also called for a ban on imports to protect local industry.
Cement now costs more than double what it sells for in neighbouring countries. According to cement companies, this is because production costs are higher in Zimbabwe.
In 2021, when President Mnangagwa toured the company’s new plant, executives laid out for him the costs they face. Power is 30% of costs, coal in Zimbabwe at the time cost US$42 per tonne versus US$30 tonne in South Africa and Botswana. Rail was US7c per kilometre per tonne versus 1.79c in South Africa and 3.92c in Zambia. Road transport was almost double the cost in South Africa, they said.
Power is also a major cost for cement producers. PPC has said power outages account for 20% of plant stoppages. The company expects to commission a 30MW solar plant in 2024 to feed its Colleen Bawn and Bulawayo operations.- NewZWire