Ohorongo Setting Solid Foundation

Since the groundbreaking in January, the Ohorongo cement project has shown good progress and the construction of the plant is swiftly taking shape.

With more than 700 workers contributing at a daily expense of approximately N$3.4 million out of a total budget in excess of N$2.5 billion, Ohorongo represents one of the busiest construction sites in Namibia.

To date, the construction site boasts probably the largest foundations in Namibia after the Hardap Dam, with the clinker silo’s foundations measuring 4,800 cubic metres and containing 380 tonnes of steel, followed by the cement silo and a not much smaller foundation of 2,300 cubic metres holding 185 tonnes of steel.

The pre-heater, scheduled to be completed in February 2010, has a footprint of 360 square metres and final height of 109 metres, towering above most man-made constructs in Namibia, equalling a 36 storey building.

As remarkable, the cables wired in the plant reach a total length of 550km – the distance between Windhoek and Keetmanshoop. The plant is equipped with the “best available technology” (BAT) to ensure lowest production cost at the highest environmental standards, with emissions at EU standards.

The world-renowned cement plant manufacturer, Polysius, was contracted by Ohorongo’s mother company Schwenk to deliver a complete cement plant ready for production. In this turn-key project, Polysius is supported by two main sub-contractors, MCC5 and steel giant Baosteel.

Ohorongo management uses Namibian contractors in all accessory civil works not directly related to the factory. The assignments to Namibian companies are estimated in excess of N$320 million and include, for example, contracts for building the administration building and setting up the water treatment plant.

The plant is located on the farm Sargberg, about 25km north of Otavi in the immediate proximity of a highly lucrative shale and limestone resource. This deposit holds enough raw materials to guarantee 300 years of full-scale production and acquits Ohorongo of the cost to transport these major cement components to site. In addition, with the mining quarry area positioned a stone’s throw off the railway line and only 11km from the B2, the company has direct access to the Namibian transporting network, offering the company a critical advantage in terms of transport cost and logistical effort.

Full-time production is set to start at the end of 2010 or beginning 2011, and Ohorongo Cement is confident that construction is well within schedule. Once commissioned, the plant will be capable of producing 700,000 tonnes of cement per annum, with the two packing lines filling 4,400 bags per hour.

Ohorongo envisages marketing its product mainly in Namibia and southern Angola, with possible sales to the Congo and other Sub-Saharan countries. While Ohorongo is currently 100%-owned by Schwenk KG, a German family business spanning 161 years, 40% of shares are presently being placed with Namibian and regional investors, with the process to be completed by the end of 2009. Hans-Wilhelm Schütte, Managing Director of Ohorongo Cement, indicated that Namibian and continental investors have shown tremendous interest.

He stressed the importance of carefully screening potential investors, but emphasised that Ohorongo is looking at the Namibian and southern African markets. Once the plant is in full production, an estimated 300 Namibians will be employed on a full-time basis, while secondary employment opportunities are estimated to supplement the purses of at least 2,000 Namibians.

Secondary jobs result mainly from entrepreneurial possibilities not included in Ohorongo’s overall business plan, such as the production of cement bags, the canteen, transport, security and other vital services facilitating the smooth flow of business.

Schütte said that these jobs will provide business opportunities especially to small and medium businesses in Namibia, underlining the intrinsic economic growth opportunities as one of the spin-offs of the plant.

Already, Namibians are benefiting. Bursaries valued at more than N$50,000 have been granted to two third-year students at the Polytechnic of Namibia. These students will receive further support from Ohorongo when they are sent to Germany on completion of their studies where they will obtain practical skills training.

Moreover, Ohorongo is proud to offer support to the Otavi community, even though production has not yet started. Under the umbrella of the Ohorongo Otavi Community Trust founded by Ohorongo management and the Otavi village council, the firm assisted, for example, in the refurbishment of the Otavi playground and the provision of new hospital equipment for the Otavi health clinic.

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