Lusaka - Lafarge Zambia Plc’s annual cement output is down 30 due to shortages of gypsum, a key input, as well as operational challenges posed by the new coronavirus pandemic.
The Lusaka-listed form this week said closure of Chambishi Copper Smelter in northern Zambia had resulted in reduced gypsum availability in the country and Lafarge had resorted to more expensive imports to keep production lines running, albeit at lower efficiencies.
Lafarge Zambia spokesperson Mr Gift Danga told The Southern Times Businessthat,
“Due to the closure of Chambeshi, Lafarge Zambia had to find an alternative source of gypsum by way of importing it to sustain its operations. This process is impacted by COVID-19 as some countries are in lockdown.”
Gypsum is added to the final grinding process of cement during manufacture to prevent the material from setting immediately after water is introduced into it when building.
Further, restrictions instituted to control the spread of COVID-19 saw Lafarge Zambia reducing the number of workers on-site.
Mr Danga said the company’s “home policy” meant more than 200 employees worked offsite.
“The promotion of social distancing has been implemented; thermal scanning is done at all access points of entry onsite and sharing educational material on prevention of COVID-19 with all staff (is continuous),” he said.
Closed borders also meant the cement-maker reduced exports to the DRC and East African countries.
Lafarge Zambia Plc has three production plants in the country.
All things being equal, the Chilanga plant has annual capacity of around 830,000 tonnes, while the Ndola facility can produce about 500,000 per year. At Mapepe, Lafarge produces 600,000 tonnes of aggregates annually.