Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
CHINESE company, Livetouch Investments, has commenced cement production at its 400 000 tonne a year capacity plant in Redcliff, near Kwekwe.Construction of the $30 million cement plant, the fourth such facility in Zimbabwe, which is part of Phase one of the firm’s project, started in June last year. Managing director and co-shareholder Dongning Wang told The Herald Business that the plant had started operations, at 70 percent of capacity, on a trial basis.
Livetouch Investments becomes the third cement producing company in the country after forerunners PPC Zimbabwe, Lafarge Zimbabwe and Sino-Zimbabwe.
PPC, which produced from Bulawayo and Gwanda, doubled its production capacity to 1,4 million tonnes after recently commissioning a new plant in Harare, its third in Zimbabwe. Lafarge has a 450 000t plant in Harare while Sino-Zimbabwe’s plant in Gweru can produce about 250 000t per year. The plant, sited adjacently near Steelmakers to the north and a few kilometres diagonally opposite mothballed Zisco to north west, has brought a refreshing feel to the deathly silence and faltering industrial face of Redcliff.
Zimbabwe currently consumes about 1,14 tonnes of cement per year. Producers have to secure markets in the region for the excess production.
Livetouch’s production is currently being distributed to potential customers to give the potential consumers a feel of the quality of the products.
“This is only phase 1, which is 85-90 percent complete. Major aspects during this phase were setting up the plant and related facilities to get it running.
“The capacity is 400 000 tonnes per year. Phase 1 is officially complete, what is left are final touches on roads and offices,” Mr Dongning said.
“We are now negotiating with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development for limestone deposits. Under phase 2 we will set up another factory close to the deposits to produce clinker, a key ingredient of cement.
“Right now we are buying (the clinker) from other producers, but we hope one day we can produce (the clinker) ourselves,” Mr Dongning added.
Acting finance manager Ignatius Mbudaya said discussions were already in progress to create distributorship with large retailers for their cement products.
“It is going to be one of our key strategies in terms of establishing long term relationships with wholesale distributorship so that we can push our products through those branches for them to be known all over the country,” Mr Mbudaya said during an interview at Livetouch in Redcliff last week.
He said the company was confident of the quality of its cement brand, Diamond Masonry, and believes it will withstand the stiff competition in the local market.
About 200 people will be employed when the plant start running at capacity. It is expected the number jobs created will double under phase 2.
Phase 2 of the projects, is planned to be much bigger than the initial investment and should get underway in 6 to 9 months after deposits are secured.