Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
PRETORIA Portland Cement (PPC) Zimbabwe has declared a US$4,4 million gross cash dividend for the financial year ended 31 March 2021, which is indicative of solid performance by the local unit.
In its integrated report for the financial year under review, the South Africa headquartered firm also noted that the economic environment in Zimbabwe has been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The resultant lockdown measures and an increase in unemployment levels have generally affected business operations, impacting negatively on volumes.
“Nevertheless, PPC Zimbabwe recovered from the slow start to trade slightly above planned volumes for most of the year, declared and paid a gross cash dividend of US$4,4 million,” said the holding company.
During the period under review, PPC said the 75 percent depreciation of the Zimbabwean dollar against the South African rand, reduced the company’s contribution to group profitability.
PPC, however, said local operation remain well-positioned to benefit from industry and retail growth as the effects of Covid-19 are reduced.
“Individual home building and other infrastructure projects are on the rise as Government continues to avail funds for construction,” it said.
“PPC aims to continue playing a significant role in national projects and hopes to secure the Batoka project.”
The company said it will focus on its Colleen Bawn plant to improve environmental compliance following the installation of a bag filter for the main kiln stack in March to April 2022.
The firm is also prioritising reducing carbon footprint, focusing on thermal and electrical energy efficiencies, consumption and costs. At its cement plant in Bulawayo, it said it would increase the level of automation to improve customer service, particularly in packaging units.
On both Harare and Bulawayo plants, the manufacturing concern aims to continue decreasing carbon footprint by further reducing clinker factor.
Industry cement sales increased by 10 percent to 15 percent from financial year 2020 for the full year ended 31 March 2021.
“Despite Covid-19, imports remained at nine percent of total industry sales (FY20: 9 percent). The informal sector contributed more to foreign currency sales, however, the sector was heavily impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown,” said PPC.
On cement pricing during the year under review, price of the product was adjusted several times over the year to hedge against increased costs. A three percent price increase was realised in November 2020, followed by a further three percent increase in January this year. In the year under review, PPC Zimbabwe continued to supply the Hwange Thermal Power station and Beitbridge Border Post renovation.
The company also launched an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) to baghouse conversion at Colleen Bawn to reduce process dust emissions, which is aligned to world benchmark performance standards, with commissioning targeted for March to April 2022.
In addition, PPC Zimbabwe ordered a bucket elevator retrofit at Colleen Bawn aimed at reducing electrical energy consumption and improving process efficiency with commissioning targeted for November this year. Roofing and cladding of coal storage facility at Colleen Bawn was completed to improve material handling and decrease stormwater pollution and fugitive dust emissions.
Packers at the Bulawayo factory were also upgraded to improve reliability and align with models supported by original equipment manufacturers.
“PPC Zimbabwe implemented a new transport management system to increase efficiencies and reduce costs,” said the company.