PPC CEO Ketso Gordhan. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Ketso Gordhan. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

HARARE — Cement group PPC announced plans on Thursday to construct a $200m cement plant in Harare.

The new plant will cater for Zimbabwe and the central Mozambican market. It will complement PPC’s two manufacturing plants in Bulawayo and Collen Bawn, producing nearly 1-million tons of cement per year.

"The construction of additional cement capacity will ensure that PPC continues to be a key player in the development of infrastructure in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries," PPC CEO Ketso Gordhan said on Thursday.

"It is totally in line with our stated strategy of growing our non-South African revenue from the current 21% to at least 40% by 2016."

PPC, formerly known as Pretoria Portland Cement, also celebrated 100 years of operations in Zimbabwe on Thursday.

PPC said in its statement that the preliminary study for a new plant in the Mashonaland province was at an advanced stage and significant investment had already been made in exploration drilling at various locations. PPC has dedicated resources in Zimbabwe and this, with support from PPC’s head office, will now commence with a full-scale feasibility study including the selection of an equipment supplier.

PPC in 2012 complied with the 51% indigenisation law, with a 9.7% stake earmarked for the National Indigenisation Economic Empowerment Fund.

Economic Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere told Business Day on Thursday that Zimbabwe remained open for business.

"We welcome the investment and Zimbabwe remains open for business. Our indigenisation laws are meant to strike a balance," he said. "Now the country will benefit and PPC will also benefit."

PPC’s MD in Zimbabwe, Zak Limbada, said: "Not only will this investment address the expected future increase in cement demand in Zimbabwe, but create employment opportunities, beneficiation of the country’s mineral reserves, and a significant growth opportunity for our indigenisation partners."

Eric Bloch, an economist at consultancy H&E Bloch, said: "PPC is forward-thinking (in) this investment and is recognising that there will be changes in Zimbabwe. It will be well placed then to accrue returns on its investment in the medium to long term."