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Lafarge SA’s Zimbabwean unit will more than double its cement plant production capacity to 1 million metric tons over the next five years, Chief Executive Officer Bruno Lafont said.

“Africa is a very important area of growth for Lafarge and Zimbabwe is very important in that context,” Lafont told reporters today in Harare, the capital. “We need to increase capacity in Zimbabwe to 1 million tons in the next five years,” he said, declining to add how much the project would cost as Lafarge was still conducting feasibility studies.

The company, which owns 76 percent of Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe Ltd., is in talks with the government over an empowerment law which seeks to transfer 51 percent shareholding in foreign-owned companies to black Zimbabweans.

The framework of the empowerment “regulations is very important for our decision-making,” he said. “My first reaction is to remain positive in terms of how we view the country. Yes, there are regulations, but I think they are under review and our team is engaged in discussions.”

The company invested $15 million to renovate the plant during the current financial year, he said. Lafarge’s Zimbabwean unit is the country’s second-largest cement producer, after South Africa’s Pretoria Portland Cement Co.

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