Arcturus set to increase market share

HARARE - Granite miner Arcturus Stone Quarries (ASQ) is “poised to meet customer demand and take advantage of new construction industry opportunities” presented by housing developments around Harare by increasing production at its Caledonia plant, mine manager Charles Garande says.

The company’s positivity or optimism not only arises from renewed activity on the individual residential housing market in the capital, but its logistical and technical capabilities to fulfil orders.

“...ASQ is looking at increasing production by focusing on huge developers, construction companies and major civil engineering firms as well as government agencies,” Garande said.

“You will know that this sub-construction sector of quarries has always been dominated by foreign players, but we are confident (that) we will make a significant impact on this key construction-supply chain industry due to our logistical strengths based on an extensive plant machinery and well-structured human resources team to back up those advantages,” he said.

With a 200 tonnes–per hour crushing line and other equipment, it means ASQ can easily ramp up production to meet increased demand for its granite aggregates, boulders, surfacing stones and quarry dust.

The eastern Harare-based company is also hopeful of raising production to 180 tonnes-plus per hour to satisfy customer demand in areas such as Ruwa, Damofalls, Sunway City and Caledonia.

Garande said ASQ was also banking on plans by government to create three new towns around the capital and a development, which is expected to increase demand for its products and “help us consolidate our position as the best locally-owned quarry producer”.

“With an anticipated increase in bank-linked building societies and road rehabilitation projects, we are also targeting new opportunities in mortgage-related housing developments and related infrastructural projects by the government, and even local authorities,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s construction industry has slowly recovered from the hyperinflationary era, with capacity utilisation — mainly driven by government and which accounts for major sites or projects — now averaging 30 percent as at last year.

But still, the industry is reeling under acute skills and funding shortages as local banks continue to impose stringent borrowing conditions at short-term durations.

The brain drain, which has hit construction companies, mainly relates to engineers, who left the country for greener pastures over the past decade or so.

At its peak, the industry employed over 30 000 people in 1996 before drastically going down to a tenth of that in 2009 and yet analysts say it has the potential to account for about 20 percent of Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product — a measurement of total value of goods, and services produced annually.

And despite the harsh economic environment, Garande says ASQ was aiming to bag, if not participate in, quite a number of big contracts this year after joining forces with cement and brick makers, civil contractors and land developers.

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