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Malawi’s cement production to increase

October 11, 2022 / Marcel Chimwala

Cement production in Malawi is expected to increase due to continued demand for the commodity resulting in an increase in production of about 20 percent of the raw materials like limestone, iron ore and kaolinitic clays also known as podzolana.

This is stated in Malawi’s 2021 Annual Economic Report published by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs.

The Report states that in the Cement Industry, Shayona Cement Corporation, Cement Products Limited and Lafarge Cement (Malawi) Limited remain the only three biggest players in cement manufacturing in Malawi.

It, however, reads that only Shayona Cement Factory based at Chamama in Kasungu District and Cement Products Limited (CPL) Factory based at Njereza in Mangochi District are currently using the locally mined limestone and iron ore to produce cement in Malawi with a daily production rate pegged at 1,500 and 1,200 metric tonnes of cement per day, respectively.

It says during the period under review, the two companies had a combined consumption of limestone of up to 575, 397.02 metric tonnes from their respective mines and used 5,018.16 metric tonnes of iron ore sourced from Artisanal Small-scale Miners (ASMs) at Nthare Hills in Chiradzulu district to manufacture cement.

Lafarge Cement (Malawi) also manufactures cement using locally mined kaolinitic clays sourced from Senzani in Ntcheu District.

“This clay is part of the raw materials used in the manufacturing of cement due to its binding element and properties,” reads the report.

During 2020, Lafarge now known as Portland Cement Company, used a total of 26,599.62 metric tonnes of kaolinitic clays valued at MK239.165 million.

Nonetheless, Malawi’s cement industry is encountering a number of problems which are hindering its growth which include electricity blackouts, shortage of foreign exchange to import raw materials for production and unfair market competition posed by imported cement brands.

Shayona Cement Operations Manager Prajeesh Padmanabhan told Mining and Trade Review in an earlier interview that influx of imported cement is impacting on the company’s revenue to invest in expansion as it is forcing it to sell cement at very low prices.

“We are facing the challenges from imported cement on supply demand scenario which are pushing us to sell our cement at a very thin margin,” he said.

He said foreign exchange problems are making it difficult for Shayona to import raw materials for cement production such as gypsum which the company sources from Oman and sometimes Tanzania.

Padmanabhan, however, said due to the Company’s passion to support local industry and save foreign exchange, there have been attempts to source gypsum locally but levels of sustainability were hard to attain.

 “We have discussed with the gypsum mining groups in Dowa several times and once we even issued a purchase order but unfortunately they could not supply. If we can secure gypsum as per required quality in Malawi, it will help us lot,” he said.

MD for Cement Products Limited (CPL) Akbar Gaffar told Mining & Trade Review in a separate interview that due to scarcity of foreign exchange, the Company is facing challenges in importation of materials not only used for cement manufacturing but also cement packaging and procurement of spare parts for its heavy duty machines. 

Gaffar said: “As a company, we are failing to procure essential products in order to run a smooth and efficient production line.”

“Delays in remittances of foreign exchange have impacted our output marginally whereby we have been forced to produce less until sufficient raw materials are available.”

“In figures, this has translated to lost production of approximately 6,000 tonnes of cement.”

Padmanabhan and Gaffar also lamented prolonged electricity blackouts saying they force the cement producers to use diesel generators, which is more expensive.

Chairman for CPL Aslam Gaffar also told Mining & Trade Review that added to the host of problems is the current diesel shortages which are impacting on the production line.

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