French cement company 'Lafarge' doubling storage capacity in Seychelles
Paris-based Lafarge cement company is building extra storage capacity to reduce its operational costs at its Seychelles business in Victoria (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - With cement consumption in Seychelles estimated at 40,000 tonnes per year, French owned company with a branch in Indian Ocean archipelago, Lafarge Cement Co (Seychelles) Ltd, is in the process of expanding by doubling its storage capacity in order to meet demand for cement in anticipation of a construction boom in the near future.
The company is currently building a 4,000 tonne silo at its depot near the Seychelles Commercial Port in the capital of Victoria.
“We operate on economies of scale. The new silo shall reduce frequency of vessels coming here, reducing operational costs, besides doubling our capacity,” said the company’s Managing Director Farouk Jean-Baptiste in an interview with SNA.
He added that the construction of the 35 metre high silo, necessitated the importation of a 45 metre crane weighing some 28 tonne from Reunion island.
“It’s a very specialized job with a lot of logistics involved,” said Jean-Baptiste who told SNA that construction being undertaken by a local contractor Laxmanbhai, will be completed within the next month.
The entire project is costing Lafarge some $2.5 million.
|Construction in progress of a 4,000 tonne silo at its depot near the Seychelles Commercial Port in the capital of Victoria. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
According to Lafarge which imports cement from Lankawi in Malaysia, it is currently supplying about 65 percent of the total demand for cement in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
The other suppliers of cement in Seychelles including ‘Land Marine’ import mainly from Pakistan while others import from India.
Lafarge has other branches in the Indian Ocean region namely in Mauritius, Madagascar and Mayotte.
The company has been present in Seychelles for 45 years. Known back in the early 1970 as Baobab Cement it was involved in the construction of the Seychelles international airport, on land just reclaimed from the sea, at Pointe Larue, on the eastern coast of the archipelago’s main island of Mahé.
French company, Lafarge took over in 2004, at the time, Jean-Baptiste also joined the company.
Lafarge’s cement is shipped to Seychelles in bulk and once in Port Victoria it is pumped via 400 metre long pipes into the silos for storage, prior to being packed.
They are sold in paper bags of 50 kilograms which Jean-Baptiste claims is biodegradable, unlike plastic.
He noted that if well stored on pallets and covered by tarpaulin, the cement can retain its strength for an average two months.
|Lafarge’s cement is shipped to Seychelles in bulk from Langkawi, Malysia and once in Port Victoria it is pumped via 400 metre long pipes into the silos for storage, prior to being packed.(Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Jean-Baptiste told SNA that in 2014, there’s been a 20 percent drop in cement consumption compared to 2013.
He noted that the present downturn in construction and the depreciation of the Seychelles rupee against the US dollar has hit the company.
“Our prices were set earlier this year, when the exchange rate was 12.50 Seychelles rupees to the US dollar. It has now depreciated to 14 Seychelles rupees.”
Jean –Baptiste said the company has been able to absorb the losses, and is confident that the downturn will be short-lived.
The Paris based company, Lafarge, is already present in 80 countries and it has plans to become the world’s biggest cement producer.
In April this year it was announced that Lafarge plans to merge with Switzerland-based Holcim which is also engaged in the manufacturing and distribution of cement.
The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2015.