4 June 2004

Zambia: Ndola Lime to Increase Lime Production

Lusaka — NDOLA Lime has this year projected an increase in its production of hydrated lime to about 20,350 tonnes as well as increased margins for quicklime and agriculture lime.

And Ndola Lime says the recent increases in copper prices have impacted positively on the company's sales in quicklime.

Senior sales and marketing executive for Ndola Lime, Esther Musozya, said in an interview that the firm would also consequently increase the quantity of exports of hydrated and quicklime to the regional market.

"Apart from the local market, we also export hydrated lime to all countries in the region and plans are underway to increase the quantity of exports," she said.

On the local market, Ndola Lime currently supplies hydrated lime to the Zambia Sugar Company, water utility companies as well as for road construction works and various domestic uses.

Ndola Lime sold a total of 15,427 tonnes of hydrated lime during the April 2003 to April 2004 financial year.

On how Ndola Lime has been performing since 1997 when it experienced problems with its kilns, Musozya said the company has been trying to penetrate overseas markets in addition to regional markets as well as consolidating on existing markets.

"We have been very aggressive and we keep our ears to the ground," she said.

On the effects on the recent upward adjustments in the price of copper on the London Stock Market, Musozya added that the company has recorded high sales of quicklime, including the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"The increase in copper prices has had an impact on our sales. Unless something drastic happens, we are going to increase our production of quicklime from last year's 137,000 tonnes," she said.

The company is set to produce at least 140,000 tonnes of quicklime this year.

Musozya noted that quicklime was the company's core business and that the main market has been the mining industry.

"Our sales in quicklime have been stable over the past five years and KCM [Konkola Copper Mines], Mopani and Chambishi have remained our main markets on the local scene," she said.

On the Congolese market for quicklime, Musozya said exports to that country were currently erratic.

"The bigger mines in Congo are still in government hands, an action that has led to cash constraints in their operations. This is because the mines are not operating on a full commercial basis," she noted.

Musozya added that the company has been trying to penetrate other export markets owing to the good quality of Zambian lime.

"Our lime, is one of the best in the world due to higher reactivity levels which means that they are higher returns and lower consumption.

"In addition, the magnesium composition for Zambian lime is low and that makes it safe for use in food items."

On agriculture lime, Musozya said the targeted sales margins of the commodity would this year increase to 19,000 tonnes from about 7,610 tonnes last year.

She added that the company would sell its lime at K15,000 per tonne in order to make the commodity affordable for farmers.

On the major constraints faced by the company in the production of lime, Musozya cited the high costs of heavy fuel oils (HFOs).

"We have vicious competition in the region and this is made worse by our high production costs due to the prohibitive costs of HFOs," she explained.

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