By ETimes

Cement maker Lafarge says cement volumes will remain depressed until mid-January next year after facing significant setbacks in third quarter industrial performance.

According to the firm there were a number of unplanned stoppages recorded due to equipment failure.

“The company continues to face challenges in securing foreign currency to allow for timely replacement of critical spares that are sourced off-shore,” it said.

In October this year, the company faced a critical on site incident involving the collapse of the roof over of its cement mills. But there were no cases of fatalities and injuries.

“However, the cement milling operations have since stopped until the restoration of the roof is complete. It is currently expected that the mills will be back in production by the second half of January 2022.”

Meanwhile, the firm said it is still producing clinker, manufacturing Dry Mortars and expanding the retail franchise, Binastore.

In the wake of new waves of mutated strains, at least 87% of the company’s workforce have been vaccinated.

Turning to third quarter performance – the company’s Dry Mortars business volumes nearly doubled compared to the same period last year helped by increased capacity.

Volumes at Binastore retail franchise increased twofold due to a rise in purchases made on the Binastore e-commerce site particularly during the lockdown periods.

The company recorded a 2.6% growth in cement volumes in comparison to the same period last year.

“The growth in the overall market demand continues to be driven by the individual home builder’s segment as well as the ongoing major infrastructure development projects led by the government,” said the company.

Following the collapse of the roof of the cement mills, it said cement volumes will remain below those of the same period in the previous year.

“No recovery is anticipated in the final quarter of the year as the plant will not be back online until January 2022. The company has therefore instituted mitigatory plans to maintain operations while critical controls are in place to avoid any further losses,” said the company in its outlook – Harare

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