Innovation In Cement Production Crucial To Environmental Sustainability

Innovation In Cement Production Crucial To Environmental Sustainability

In this exclusive article SA Builder delves into sustainability in cement production:

AfriSam’s value of ‘Planet’ is defined as a responsibility for the impact of its actions on the community and the environment

AfriSam’s Dudfield cement plant near Lichtenburg in the North-West province has its roots dating back to 1949 and remains a vital pillar in South Africa’s construction sector.

Vishal Aniruth, general manager at AfriSam Dudfield, notes that the plant had seen a number of production upgrades over its life-time. As importantly, it had been at the leading edge of efforts to achieve environmental sustainability.

We were one of the first plants in the country to convert from old electrostatic precipitator technology in terms of air emissions control,” Aniruth said. “This involved the installation of bag-house filter technology for kiln emissions, and allowed us to achieve compliance with the latest emissions standards.”

The Dudfield facility began as a mining operation, exploiting the shallow calcrete deposit that covers the entire 3 608 hectare mining licence. Before the plant was built, the mined limestone was shipped to the company’s kilns in Roodepoort.

Today, the quarry is a split-bench operation that opens up about 15 hectares a year. It produces annually about two million tonnes of limestone and 120 000 tons of shale for the plant from the Spring Valley quarry, located 65 km away.

Aniruth highlighted that the latest computer-based modelling techniques are used for deposit optimisation. This ensures that the mine plan generates the required quality of material for the plant. He noted that there are 65 years of proven reserves at the quarry, with further reserves at AfriSam properties at Kalkfontein and on the neighbouring farm Bethlehem.

AfriSam’s Dudfield cement operation in the North West Province was commissioned in 1965

Long experience

The cement plant itself was commissioned in 1965, with one kiln with the capacity to produce 380 000 tonnes per year. Kiln 2 followed in 1972, with an annual production capacity upgraded over time to 780 000 tons. The plant grew further in 1977, when Kiln 3 was added, augmenting capacity by another 630 000 tonnes a year. In an important market-leading innovation in 1992, Dudfield installed the country’s first cement roller press to enhance the manufacturing process and improve grinding capacity.

Continuously aligning its production capacity with market demand, AfriSam Dudfield upgraded its Kiln 3 capacity in 2003 to over a million tonnes a year. The plant currently operates only the Kiln 3 production line – a four-stage configuration with in-line pre-calciner. The kiln features indirect firing with a multi-channel burner.

Fully integrated plants

Among the key elements of current plant operations at Dudfield are two coal mills and two cement mills. Coal mill 1, constructed in 1966 with production capacity of 11 tonnes an hour, feeds the pre-calciner burner. The other unit mills coal for the main burner, and was built in 1975 with a 16 ton per hour capacity. Cement mill 1, installed in 1966, has a 49 ton per hour capacity. The second cement mill is larger, giving it double the capacity at 98 tonnes an hour.

The cement output from Dudfield is delivered as road bulk, rail bulk and bagged cement. The plant’s in-house road bulk and weighbridge facility is used to load tankers. On the rail bulk operation, a large portion of the plant’s production is railed to AfriSam depots. Clinker is also supplied to AfriSam’s Roodepoort milling facility. The packing and palletising facility produces a bagged cement product for the market.

Dudfield is one of two fully integrated AfriSam cement plants in South Africa, which together can produce 4,5 million tons of cement. The second is the Ulco plant in the Northern Cape. The company’s third plant – with annual capacity of 1,2 million tons – is in Tanzania.

The cement output from Dudfield is delivered as road bulk, rail bulk and bagged cement

Environmental mission

Also addressing the media visit to Dudfield was Hannes Meyer, cementitious executive at AfriSam, who focused on the company’s commitment to environmental issues. He noted that the global cement industry was responsible for about 5% of the world’s greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. The country was also a significant producer of CO2 emissions.

South Africa is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing carbon emitters,” said Meyer. “We are in the global top ten of CO2 emitters, when measured per capita.”

As a result, the country had committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 34% below its ‘business as usual’ levels by 2020. As cement manufacturing produces a high level of CO2, he said, AfriSam had been proactive since the 1990s in charting and implementing a path towards environmental sustainability.

Cutting emissions

The innovative step in 2006 to install a baghouse in Dudfield’s Kiln 2 line was part of a broader corporate strategy, built on the values of ‘people, planet and performance’. AfriSam’s value of ‘planet’ is defined as a responsibility for the impact of its actions on the community and the environment.

We were the first company to equip all our kilns with the latest bag filter technology,” he said. “As a company, we are committed to make a difference and to leave a legacy that is positive.”

These initiatives have reduced the company’s particulate emissions to less than a tenth of what they were in 2003. It has also brought emissions to below even the European standard of 30 mg/m3; local regulations require 50 mg/m3 or less.

In the year 2000 AfriSam introduced Project Green Cement to actively reduce its carbon footprint

CO2 programme

Overall, the progress achieved in controlling its plant emissions and making production facilities more energy efficient has had considerable impact on AfriSam’s environmental performance. Between 1990 and the present, its CO2 emissions per ton of cementitious material have been reduced by 35%.

The use of extenders in cement has been an important aspect of these efforts. In 2000, the company launched Project Green Cement – to increase the use of extenders like fly-ash and slag from other industries. This allows the reduced use of clinker – the main consumer of energy in the production process – while making more use of extenders.

We are probably South Africa’s leading company in our understanding and application of extenders in cement,” said Meyer. “This field holds considerable scope for creating more environmentally friendly cements. We are pleased that we have developed the technical expertise to do this.”

In 2009, AfriSam was the first in the industry to introduce a CO2 rating system. This indicates the carbon footprint of each of its cement products, relative to Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC). Indeed, the initiative has gone beyond cement manufacture. Even AfriSam’s other construction materials – aggregate and ready mix concrete – receive a carbon footprint rating. This may also be an industry first, argued Meyer.

Carbon tax

The carbon tax recently introduced in June 2019 will be another pressure for many South African CO2-producing sectors, but also brings opportunities, he said.

There are many good concepts that industry has developed to save energy and CO2 emissions, but the depressed economy has dampened their application,” he said. “Carbon tax revenues could be channelled into incentives that promote energy-saving innovation, with good effect. This would ease demand on Eskom’s grid, contribute toward the country’s Paris Agreement obligations, and make our industries more competitive.”

The company’s environmental efforts include the maintenance of a dedicated Nature Conservation Trust for the full rehabilitation of quarries and mining areas after the closure of operations. It also includes collaboration and support for important players in the conservation space such as the World Wildlife Trust and Cape Nature.


Johannesburg will soon boast one of the most modern forensic pathology laboratories in the southern hemisphere, with work proceeding apace alongside the Helen Joseph public hospital near Auckland Park. Construction is being undertaken by black-owned contractor Maziya General Services, partnering with construction materials leader AfriSam for its supply of readymix concrete and bagged cement


Johannesburg will soon boast one of the most modern forensic pathology laboratories in the southern hemisphere, with work proceeding apace alongside the Helen Joseph public hospital near Auckland Park.

Construction is being undertaken by black-owned contractor Maziya General Services, partnering with construction materials leader AfriSam for its supply of readymix concrete and bagged cement. When completed in May 2020, the new Johannesburg Forensic Pathology Laboratory will become the main centre for these pathology services in the city. It is being built for the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development.

In addition to the laboratories themselves and the related office space, the building will also include educational facilities as training is an important element of the facility’s role. The building therefore includes a double-volume, state-of-the-art auditorium, according to Chris Delport, managing member of Maziya General Services. This will serve the universities in the area, and the nurses training colleges.

AfriSam is the supplier of choice for the supply of the projects bagged cement and readymix requirements

The building’s façade is a Grade 2 smooth concrete finish with no treatment, so care is taken to achieve a uniform colour throughout. To ensure a high quality finish, AfriSam constantly optimises the mixes supplied, says AfriSam territory manager Antonio Benjamin.

As the building is Green Star rated, the concrete being supplied contains slagment as an extender and this reduces the carbon footprint of the product. Standard mixes use 50% slagment, while enhanced mixes use 28%.

A total of over 15 000 m3 of readymix concrete will go into the project by the time it is complete, says Benjamin. Supplied from AfriSam’s Prolecon plant, readymix deliveries began in August 2017 and will continue until the finalisation of concrete work around May 2019. The readymix has been provided in three strength categories – about 260 m3 of 15 MPa for blinding, 10 500 m3 of 30 MPa for the in-situ casting of slabs and 1 300 m3 of 40 MPa for the columns and walls.

15 000 m³ of readymix concrete will go into the project by the time it is complete


Earthworks kicked off in October 2017 and continued for about three months, says Delport. Considerable levelling was required due to the slope on the site, with 15 to 20 metres of excavation required.

Following the earthworks stage, extensive piling, to accommodate the stepping on the sloping ground, was done for the four different levels. Over 200 piles – usually 450 mm or 600 mm in diameter – have been driven and poured to a depth of eight to 10 metres. He says that various ground conditions were dealt with, including quartz, hard-scale and sand. The piling was completed by early 2019, and pile caps were then poured on which columns could be constructed.

The building includes a basement at minus 2 level, where there will be parking and service rooms for generators, water plants and heaters. Above the basement, three floors are being constructed, completed with a roof slab. After completion of the concrete work, there will be some limited brickwork with partitioning and aluminium window frames and glazing. Maziya General Services will manage subcontractors and take the building through to full finish, where it can be handed over as a fully functional laboratory.

Between 50-70 young workers from the local area have been employed and upskilled over the project’s two-year construction period

The project is an Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), one of government’s key initiatives for providing poverty and income relief through temporary work for the unemployed. The programme provides an important avenue for labour absorption and income transfers to poor households.

We employ between 50 and 70 young workers from the local areas and upskill them over the project’s two year construction period,” says Delport. “This is an important strategy for us to be able to ‘give back’ to the community in the way we conduct business.”

With management, administration and subcontractors on site, there are about 150 people working on the project at any one time, he says. Maziya General Services deploys a range of its own large and small plant on the project, including a tower crane, two mobile cranes, a water bowser, tractor-loader-backhoes (TLBs), excavators, bobcats and compactors.

As the building is Green Star rated, the concrete being supplied contains slagment as extender and this reduces the carbon footprint of the product

Established in 1999, Maziya General Services has expanded its offerings into the broader infrastructural development value chain. With capacity and resources to deliver a range of projects, it holds a Grade 9 rating from the South African Construction Industry (CIDB).

Our multi-disciplinary skills base means that we can offer a single-point responsibility to our clients,” says Delport. “We are known for delivering solutions to clients on time and within budget in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.”

Environmentally Eco Friendly Readymixes Are Gaining Traction

Environmentally Eco Friendly Readymixes Are Gaining Traction

AfriSam, as part of its efforts to conserve the environment, perfected the art of producing composite cements using additives as partial replacement for cement.

AfriSam uses sustainably sourced materials coupled with environmentally friendly manufacturing processes

While Portland cement served industry for well over a century it has been superseded by composite cements. Using sustainably sourced materials coupled with more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, these are blends of high performance cement with carbon neutral mineral components designed to achieve excellent cementitious properties.

Depending on the compressive strength, the carbon footprint is reduced by between 46% to 51% when compared to typical industry cement. An example of this is the AfriSam Eco Readymix brands – Starmix, Foundation Mix and Retainer Mix – which were developed to suit particular construction sector applications.

The performance of the Eco Readymix concretes is far superior to concrete made from pure cements. AfriSam can produce ultra-high performance Eco Readymix concretes with compressive strengths of above 70 MPa.”

AfriSam, as part of its efforts to conserve the environment, perfected the art of producing composite cements using additives as partial replacement for cement. Not only does this practice of recycling products from other industries minimise harm to the environment, these additives also enhance the performance of cement and offer advantages over ordinary Portland cement.

The additives include limestone, fly ash (a by-product of coal fired power stations) and ground granulated blast furnace slag from the steel industry. These products behave like pure cements in the presence of cement of lime.

AfriSam perfected the art of producing composite cements using additives as partial replacement for cement

Significantly despite the low carbon footprint, the performance of the Eco Readymix concretes is far superior to concrete made from pure cements. AfriSam can produce ultra-high performance Eco Readymix concretes with compressive strengths of above 70 MPa.

Years of research and development in cement products and in particular C-Tech technology has given several distinct advantages overs pure cements including improved workability, reduce heat of hydration, reduced susceptibility to chemical attack and increased erosion resistance. The resultant concretes are less permeable and more resistant to corrosion. They also continue to gain strength over time.

Precast concrete slabs speed up housing delivery

Controlled conditions under Elematic SA’s state-of-the-art production facilities ensures a constantly high standard that is tested and fit for purpose

Precast concrete slabs speed up housing delivery

South Africa’s massive backlog in affordable housing is likely to see continued demand for precast hollow core concrete slabs from Elematic SA, given the high quality finish and the time that this technology saves in the construction process.

With rapid urbanisation and the increased premium on land in urban areas, multi-storey residential designs are now the norm,” says Elematic SA director Craig Webber. “This makes the use of pre-stressed concrete slabs an efficient and affordable solution, streamlining the pace of construction work while enhancing building quality and lifespan.”

The four-storey walk-up design, for instance, lends itself well to a repetitive construction methodology where precast comes into its own. Webber emphasises that the precast option eliminates the need for back-propping and allows other trades to start working under the slabs immediately, significantly accelerating the project schedule.

Moreover, the high quality finish on the soffit – or underside – of the slabs makes an additional false ceiling unnecessary, and eliminates this potential cost. The company’s precast staircases also lend themselves well to the fast track approach to many modern housing projects.

Using the traditional rib-and-block method of slab construction, contractors can wait about three weeks for concrete to cure fully, before props can be removed and work can commence.

By comparison, we install our precast slabs on one day and grout the next, allowing building to start on the third day without any further delay in the project timeline,” he says.

In operation since 2005, Elematic SA received ISO 9001 certification in 2009 and its products are approved by the South African Bureau of Standards

Manufacturing of these advanced precast products under controlled conditions in Elematic SA’s state-of-the-art production facilities on Gauteng’s East Rand ensures a constantly high standard that is tested and fit for purpose. As the largest producer of pre-stressed hollow core slabs in the Johannesburg area, the company’s two factories include 16 beds for a variety of slab sizes.

In operation since 2005, we received ISO 9001 certification in 2009 and our products are approved by the South African Bureau of Standards,” he says. “These quality standards underpin our products’ standing as among the most advanced in the industry, backed by the extensive knowledge and experience behind the Elematic brand.”

Helping the business sustain its quality standards is construction material leaders AfriSam, which provides a reliable supply of specialised cement – the Rapid Hard product in the 52.5R strength class – to Elematic SA’s factories near Benoni. AfriSam Rapid Hard cement is very fine, giving it a larger surface area to react with water, which increases the rate of hydration and gives it higher early strength.

This allows the manufactured concrete product to be released from the mould sooner, speeding up the production cycle and making factories as efficient as possible. It also provides consistent strength performance, so that the production processes can be timed with precision and without any danger of breakage due to weakness when removing products from moulds. The high early strength makes this cement brand ideal for pre-stressed members.

Elematic SA has been using AfriSam cement since 2007, relying on the product’s consistency and quality, and on AfriSam’s high level of customer service

The company has been using AfriSam cement since 2007, relying on the product’s consistency and quality, and on AfriSam’s high level of customer service. Like AfriSam, Elematic SA has its own ISO-accredited laboratories and testing equipment to ensure consistent quality; calibration of its test equipment is conducted regularly in line with SANAS standards.

Building confidence slightly more positive

Building confidence slightly more positive

Caption: David Metelerkamp, senior economist, Industry Insight

Marginal growth in the building sector is anticipated to continue as this is not driven by the public sector, but by the private sector. Yet infrastructure spending seems to be stabilising, but the construction sector remains in dire straits as the demise of the big contractor continues.

This is the view of Industry Insight senior economist David Metelerkamp who, in his address to delegates at the AfriSam 2019 National Budget Breakfast in Sandton id February following Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s first budget speech, painted a sombre picture for most segments of the construction sector.

The event was well attended by a diverse audience of more than 200 people from the construction sector.

Metelerkamp noted that water infrastructure would see an 8% increase in public spending, but investment in power facilities was only slightly raised due to the Medupi and Kusile projects approaching completion. The renewable energy sector would bring some relief to contractors, as its role in power generation could grow as these technologies showed evidence of reducing the cost of generating electricity.

The building industry looked better than civils, he said, especially the residential segment. This was mainly in demand for flats and townhouses, where square metres completed grew considerably in 2018. Demand for ‘luxury homes’ was down. The future held promise for large mixed-use developments, of which over 30 were on the table, said Metelerkamp. Ten of these were expected to launch in this financial year, and 14 more in 2020/21. He noted that the shopping centre ‘boom’ was over and that an oversupply now existed.

Economist Dr Azar Jammine

Economist Dr Azar Jammine noted that Mboweni’s has raised hopes for a “major recovery” in the South African economy, but he warned it was unlikely to happen before 2021. “Planned government investment in infrastructure, for instance, is expected to rise only 4%, spelling a continued slump for civil engineering,” said Dr Jammine.

He said one of the key drivers of recovery would be restoring the tax-collecting capacity of the South African Revenue Services, which had fallen about R40 billion short of target in the last financial year. He also hoped that government expenditure would be made more effective if the challenges at the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) were addressed and the more-than-34% of the tax revenue being spent on the civil service was reduced significantly.

Referring to the oversupply in the cement sector, AfriSam sales and marketing executive Richard Tomes, said AfriSam was now in a better position to cope with current market conditions after a period of right-sizing its business.

Political analyst, Aubrey Matshiqi

Closing off the speaker line-up, the colourfully eloquent political analyst, Aubrey Matshiqi, said despite the right words in Minister Mboweni’s budget address, certain ratings agencies had lost confidence in the ANC government’s ability to implement its stated plans. Matshiqi argued that “only limited change” would be achieved by this year’s election, and there was a “paucity of thought leadership” among the country’s leaders.

Tomes added that despite the impact of the lack of infrastructure spend on the construction sector, he remains confident that some level of stability will return to the industry once the 2019 national elections have taken place and the newly elected government will have been mandated with a new 5-year term to address issues around policy uncertainty and fix the state-owned entities.

Tomes concluded by saying that in order to strengthen the construction industry and the country, we must all the heed the president’s call of ‘Thuma Mina’ made during his inaugural state of the nation address – a call for all South Africans to ‘lend a hand’ and be of service to the nation.

AfriSam recycles concrete in its sustainability drive

AfriSam recycles concrete in its sustainability drive

Readymix concrete that is returned to the supplier for various reasons has in the past created an environmental headache, but AfriSam is now able to recycle this material for road-building purposes.

The return concrete has also been used around the readymix plant to pave large areas

While readymix suppliers must always be prepared to accommodate a certain portion of returned concrete from site when the construction schedule does not go according to plan, for instance, disposal of this material can create challenges. So, in line with its commitment to recycling in its Environmental Management Programme, AfriSam has over the years used various strategies to deal responsibly with returned concrete.

A breakthrough was made when the management team at AfriSam’s Jukskei Quarry in Midrand, Gauteng, experimented with including recycled concrete in the G5 sub-base product required for road-building. Standards permit this grade of product to comprise material from more than one source. They also require that it contain about 80% fines content which the recycled concrete was well-suited to deliver.

As a result, some 15 to 20% of the G5 product can be made up of recycled concrete, giving a good mixture of decomposed material and returned concrete. Quality remains key, and AfriSam ensures that all its products comply with the COLTO (Committee of Land Transport Officials) material grading specifications from the South African Bureau of Standards.
AfriSam’s G5 sub-base with recycled concrete was first used on the N1 highway extension work around Johannesburg – part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project – and the contractor was well satisfied with it. Since then, its success has been replicated in a range of other projects.

Waste at the facility that will be recycled

The recycling process begins when the returned concrete is contained in a dedicated area of the readymix site and allowed to dry. Using a hydraulic hammer mounted on an excavator, the dry returns are broken up into chunks of 250 to 400 mm in size. After being hauled to a secondary stockpile, the material is checked and blended by plant operators before being fed into a jaw crusher.

Load-haul operators also play a role in checking that the material is within specification, and must be selective in what they bring to the stockpile to ensure blending of the appropriate quantities before crushing. Crushed material is then homogenised and stockpiled ready for use.
This innovative solution also has positive spin-offs for the readymix site itself. As there is no slush around the plant, there is less potential for contamination and a smaller carbon footprint is created. It should be remembered that no public dumping facilities would accept concrete in these quantities, making these strategic responses even more vital.

In addition to its environmental benefits, the recycling process ensures sustainability by creating a revenue stream for the recycled material; its inclusion in a saleable, quality G5 product means that it is helping offset the costs that returned concrete places on the business.



AfriSam has partnered with black-owned roofing solutions company Malvilox as its cement supplier for the new tile making operation in Chamdor

Technology, transformation and a niche opportunity have been brought together in the recent launch of black-owned roofing solutions company Malvilox, which looks set to become a success story in the Department of Trade and Industry’s Black Industrialist Programme.

Having set up its factory in Chamdor, Krugersdorp in Gauteng, Malvilox has installed cutting-edge technology to manufacture concrete roof tiles in one stream of the business, and lightweight steel trusses in a second stream. Together, these elements make up an innovative roofing system for affordable housing projects – with 18 months of future orders already secured – as well as other segments of the building industry.

The face of this pioneering initiative and economic transformation is Alwyn Cronje’ senior, who has over 30 years’ experience in the building sector and specifically in the building materials manufacturing sector. Malvilox’s executive chairman and managing director is serial entrepreneur and change activist Xolani Qubeka, who has more than 25 years’ corporate business experience. He is the founder and former chief executive officer of the Small Business Development Institute (SBDI) as well as founder and chief executive of the Black Business Council (BBC).

Cutting edge technology has been installed at Malvilox’s Chamdor factory where concrete roof tiles are being produced using cement from AfriSam

In collaboration with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the DTI, Malvilox raised R80 million for the establishment of its factory and infrastructure, which will employ some 75 people and create a cost effective contribution to tackling the country’s housing backlog.

The project has been many years in planning, with the first presentations made to the IDC in 2014. After intense scrutiny of the business case and a full due diligence study, including a detailed market assessment, the first IDC funding approval came through in 2016 with subsequent support by the DTI BI Programme. The production site was occupied in late 2017 and preparations have been proceeding apace.

Sharing Malvilox’s empowerment philosophy and South Africa-focus, AfriSam has partnered with this new venture as its cement supplier for the tile making operation. With its 100 tonne cement silo erected outside the Chamdor factory, AfriSam will bulk deliver about three times a week to meet the operation’s requirements. Conveniently, the AfriSam Roodepoort plant is just a few minutes down the road, and each tonne of cement will allow the production of 1 000 tiles.

AfriSam is the chosen cement partner for black-owned roofing solution company Malvilox

It is an exciting opportunity for AfriSam as a wholly South African business and proud Level 4 Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment company to partner with a home-grown innovator like Malvilox,” says AfriSam key accounts manager Vincent Erasmus. “We collaborated closely during the planning and establishment phases of this facility, and look forward to taking our partnership forward as this exciting business grows and evolves.”

Malvilox’s roofing package will initially serve mainly the demands of Gauteng’s mega-cities, where affordable housing must be rolled out rapidly to keep up with the province’s high levels of urban migration. The province is South Africa’s largest market for roof tiles, demanding some 500 000 tiles a day from producers. The scope for growth in concrete roof tiles is still substantial, as only 26% of roof covering comprises concrete roof tiles with most of the coverage provided by sheeting and other roof covering material.

The Malvilox production line will produce a new and improved design concrete roof tile which is lighter, but as strong

The factory is strategically located in terms of mega-city developments currently underway in the south and west of Johannesburg, mainly Carletonville, Daggafontein and Vereeniging. This means production for the next ten years will probably be focused within a 100 kilometre radius. Within the next five years, there is also considerable expansion planned for Mogale City, which will represent another 20 000 living units.

The development of the Malvilox facility comes at an opportune time, as procurement regulations for building sites are required to have 30% black supplier input, a philosophy that also made AfriSam the obvious choice when the company was choosing its cement supplier.

The attractiveness of the tile option is clear, as it is cheaper than sheeting when compared in square metres of coverage. The challenge had been to overcome the cost of the structure – the trusses – and this has now been achieved.

Malvilox’s package offering represents both a cost and a time saving, while providing local content in both the manufacturing and the assembly of the components.

The high-tech, digitally driven Framecad equipment produces the lightweight steel trusses and battens according to each specified design, pre-punched and cut to various component sizes producing strong trusses delivered in kit form that can be quickly and easily assembled on site. A 45 square metre RDP house requires only eight of these trusses. Weighing just 28 kilograms each, the trusses are easier to lift and place than the conventional timber truss.

AfriSam’s role in the Malvilox project was to ensure the optimal cement specification for the tile factory

The strength of the trusses – which can be locally assembled on site using high tech screws – allows them to easily bear the load of the 600 or more concrete tiles that are required on each RDP house, giving each unit a solid and attractive roofing structure. To promote worksite efficiency, the roofing system – both trusses and tiles – can be installed on an RDP house by four people in as little as an hour.

AfriSam’s role in the project included working with Malvilox to ensure the optimal cement specification for the tile factory. The production line produces a new and improved design concrete roof tile which is lighter, but equally as strong. The reduced weight facilitates more economical transportation and easier handling on site, and the tiles will carry the SABS mark ensuring customers of consistent quality.

The world-renowned Protile system makes up the backbone of the tile factory’s production facility, and was installed by local agents Jessop & Associates. The tile production plant includes the cement silo, sand hoppers and conveyors that feed an automated roof tile extrusion machine. Specialised cable conveyors transport the tiles to racks, which are moved to high tech insulated heated curing chambers for approximately eight hours before the concrete tile can be removed from the pallet, then strapped and stacked.

The world renowned Protile system makes up the backbone of Malvilox’s tile factory’s production facility

Looking to the future, the Malvilox model can potentially be applied in other markets, and scaled according to the demands of those markets. The company expects to roll out a national footprint as there may well be interest in smaller centres around the country where mega-cities are planned. Indeed, relative to the Chamdor plant, Malvilox is planning to demonstrate that even smaller, more affordable plants like this could be established elsewhere in South Africa – significantly fragmenting the current market and creating access for new entrants to the construction sector.

For further information please contact:

Maxine Nel, AFRISAM

TEL : +27 011 670 5893


Concrete Conference unites the industry

AfriSam, main sponsor of The Concrete Conference, staged an impressive exhibit

A united industry is a stronger one that is better able to represent its members through periods of high growth while maintaining its solid structure in times of adversity.

This was the overriding message of The Concrete Conference 2018, which was held in Boksburg recently as the first of its kind to fully involve representative organisations of the concrete and cement industries. The events therefore gave local and international speakers the ability to address a combined audience of members of The Concrete Institute (TCI), Concrete Society of Southern Africa (CSSA), Concrete Manufacturers Association (CMA), Southern Africa Readymix Association (SARMA) and the Association of Cementitious Material Producers (ACMP).

Richard Tomes, Executive: Sales and Marketing, AfriSam opened The Concrete Conference proceedings

In opening the conference, Richard Tomes of AfriSam, the main sponsor, said that a unified industry is essential for the industry to make headway. “The entire construction industry needs to plan for the future and map a way forward that involves all professionals’ bodies within the industry. It is therefore so important that the concrete industry finds its unified voice to help shape construction in future and to address challenges that face this end of the sector.

Strong voice

If we don’t get our act together soon our infrastructure will collapse, and it has already started at some levels within our municipalities and state-owned enterprises. But, in order to make positive changes we need everyone to be on board. We need to support industry associations such as these here today and obtain funding to keep them going.

The Concrete Conference 2018 in Boksburg was the first of its kind to fully involve representative organisations of the concrete and cement industries

For example, AfriSam is the only cement producer that is a member of SARMA right now and, in my opinion, it is just not right that it funds this association by itself. It is time other role players and suppliers to these industries start to contribute. If not, we will also eventually be forced to withdraw our funding and the industry’s own association may be faced with closure as a result. It is time for other role players to step up and support all our concrete professional bodies,” said Tomes.

SARMA’s Johan van Wyk, agreed adding that associations have to move with the times and become more relevant with added benefits for members and a louder voice within policy and economic frameworks. By combining the strengths of the industry bodies, it will be possible to provide more value for members. “What excites us unites us!”

Long road

Adding to the discussion, TCI’s Bryan Perrie, continued saying that the pooled resources of the five associations will make for a robust organisation that will have different agendas for different disciplines, but the same end goal to make concrete the building material of choice.

At present the individual industry bodies draw funding from the same major stakeholders and these cannot continue to fund them as they had in the past. Whereas a single coordinated body is more agile and eliminates duplicated costs, it can still continue to provide the key activities that had previously been provided and more.”

In closing he said that a lot of work still needs to be done to unify the concrete associations and that consultations with members and business studies were still being conducted to work out the finer details.

State of the Construction Industry

State of the Construction Industry

Industry Insight’s Senior Economist, David Metelerkamp

At a breakfast hosted by AfriSam in Johannesburg recently, David Metelerkamp, Senior Economist at Industry Insight, delivered his analysis of the State of the Construction Industry in South Africa.

In his opening address to some 200 guests from all facets of the construction sector, trade associations, government representatives, institutions, investors, bankers, industry analysts and the media, Rob Wessels, CEO of AfriSam, stressed the need for a positive Africa vision and an integrated view by all stakeholders in mapping the way forward.

Taking the podium, David Metelerkamp outlined the global scenario and an array of factors affecting our economy, in particular the US imposition of tariffs which are having a severe negative ripple effect on the global economy.

Cautious optimism
Although there was an air of cautious optimism across the country in the first quarter of 2018, the construction sector performance has remained consistently poor; and retail too has slumped to -3.1%. Yet this remains a massive improvement to the Zuma era.

“We have past the turning point in the economy – things are looking better – but not much”

He noted that amongst the “pros” of the current state, an increase in private investment is encouraging; and that the reform of state owned enterprises (SOEs) now underway will be slow – but will ultimately be good for the construction sector. In addition, inflation is under control, and the exchange rate remains buoyant.

However the serious array of “cons” present significant hurdles to be overcome, including the land expropriation débâcle; lack of improvement in education; and the decrease in infrastructure spending from R947 billion in 2017/2018 to R841 billion for 2018/2019.

Industry Insight projects a 1.5% growth in GDP for 2018.

Metelerkamp estimates the true size of the construction sector to be in the order of R220 billion – a clear and dramatic downward trend into recessionary levels.

The demise of the traditional large contractors such as NMC, Liviero, Aveng – and more recently, Basil Read – is the result of the increasing number of smaller contractors from 17% to 40% – doubling their market share.

“But,” said Metelerkamp, “it’s not all doom and gloom. You just have different clients now as suppliers”

“Despite the worst ever confidence levels there is presently good growth of 18% in tender activity. Furthermore, postponement and cancellation of projects has dropped significantly since 2017 and in non-residential construction there is 12.4% more going to tender – especially in the health and education arena.”

Concluding his address, Metelerkamp said we are past the turning point and looking a little better, and with civils being in recessionary territory construction companies will be better off focusing on building.


A commitment cast in concrete

A commitment cast in concrete

Hannes Meyer – Cementitious Executive, AfriSam *

In April 2018, at its Peninsula Quarry operations near Cape Town, AfriSam’s top management team re-affirmed it’s long term commitment, further entrenchment and investment of assets and resources in the Western Cape.

AfriSam is renowned for its presence and dedication over decades of construction in the Western Cape, including the supply of cement, concrete and readymix for numerous iconic structures – to the benefit of the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape region and their communities as a whole.

Concrete, after water, is the most used

AfriSam plays an extensive and ongoing infrastructure development role in Cape Town and the Western Cape

product on the planet

With our considerable assets in the region, coupled with our innovative logistics operations in directing clinker from Gauteng to the Western Cape, we are able to maintain our competitive edge and deepen our commitment to Cape Town and the Western Cape,” said Hannes Meyer, AfriSam’s Cementitious Executive.

Richard Tomes, Sales and Marketing Executive for AfriSam

AfriSam’s top management team engage with the medai at the company’s Peninsula Quarry near Cape Town *

Richard Tomes, Sales and Marketing Executive for AfriSam, noted that the company is recognised as the market leader in the combined manufacture and supply of concrete materials, namely, cement, aggregates and readymix.

The AfriSam Peninsula Quarry *

We are aware of the progressive migration of people to Cape Town and the Western Cape, and note too that the turnaround of growth in construction will still take some time, however we have in place comprehensive plans for ongoing expansion in the region – to which we remain historically committed,” continued Tomes.

According to Meyer, AfriSam has in place fully approved and signed-off plans for expansion of its facilities in Saldanha Bay. This programme will build out on its existing limestone quarry in Saldanha with the addition of an EIA approved cement plant to be constructed when market conditions are favourable. “This project will enable significant expansion of all AfriSam products in the Western Cape.

Shaughn Smit, AfriSam’s National Sales Manager for Aggregates

Re-construction of the Silos is well advanced – 2016

Building on Meyer’s presentation, Shaughn Smit, AfriSam’s National Sales Manager for Aggregates, described a number of huge forthcoming developments in the Cape Town region: “AfriSam’s projected commitment programme is in direct support of the published 25 year build plan for the V&A Waterfront – where we continue to supply concrete on a daily basis; the “WES Cape” 25 year build plan (a project similar to Century City) which has already been approved by the City of Cape Town; the “Harbour Edge” development by Amdec which is in the pipeline for the Culemborg foreshore area near the Yacht Club; as well as the “joining of the bridges” which will result in another huge development below the bridges.”

De-construction and re-construction of the atrium progresses apace – 2016

Our finest example of commitment,” said Richard Tomes, “is without doubt our participation with the design of concrete for the iconic Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) – the only contemporary art museum in Africa. Here AfriSam sponsored the supply of concrete at cost – and continues to play a key role as a stakeholder through active participation in educational and community programmes revolving around the museum.”

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) and AfriSam

Project manager, Franette Ventura

A majestic work of modern engineering and concrete art

Originally completed in 1924, the 57 m high Silo dominates the Cape Town skyline.

Constructed by SA Railways and Harbours, the facility processed hundreds of thousands of tons of wheat, maize, soya and sorghum. It was sited to take advantage of its connectivity to the docks and the supporting rail infrastructure. An iconic building, it is considered an important contributor to Cape Town’s urban character.

Custom-built lifts operate inside two of the cut-away silo cylinders – servicing the six floors of art galleries above and providing visitors with a view into the atrium *

According to lead design architect, Thomas Heatherwick of the famed Heatherwick Studios in London, “We expected a rather cold surface inside the museum, but as we began to work with portions of the old concrete, we realized that it imparts a rather unique character to the building inside – a rather warm one at that.

Inside we were in danger of losing the extraordinary cellular structure, so we created a space that would help the visitor understand the building. So, you would walk in and navigate around. We took the idea of taking just one of those billions of grains of corn so that we could scale it up and use it as a model for the cutting tool to cut through.”

The cut through the concrete of the silo wall must be “like a knife through butter” – Thomas Heatherwick, architect

“like a knife through butter”

A core concept in reinforcing the strength of the remaining silo tubes so that they could be left in place and cut to the architect’s design, is the use of an inner concrete ‘jacket’. Using concrete supplied by project partner, AfriSam to engineer’s specification, the inner circumference of each silo tube was re-lined with 200 mm thick reinforced concrete to its exact cut dimension.

The top of the bins is capped with a glass roof which lets light enter the atrium from above. The bottom of the atrium is formed by graded steps that naturally contour the rounded space forming a flexible amphitheatre space that can be used for both events and displays.

In addition, a rooftop floor is dedicated to a restaurant, an education centre and a rooftop sculpture garden. It is from this level that visitors may embark on their ‘walk of faith’ across a high-performance glass floor that looks down into the atrium. Visitors arrive on this level by using one of two scenic lifts. These lifts operate inside two of the cut-away silo cylinders – with a view into the atrium. A third adjacent partly cut-away silo provides the third panoramic option – a steel spiral staircase. There are also conventional service lifts and the usual fire escape staircases, in line with standard building safety requirements.

There be Dragons in the Atrium

A spiral staircase winds up six floors to the rooftop *

This museum is a symbol and an icon of the confidence we feel about being Africans, the confidence we feel about our place in the world” said Mark Coetzee, Executive Director and Chief Curator.


Deep in the basement are the original silo grain release valves *

* Photos: John Thomé

Acknowledgements: Gareth Griffiths – extracts on Zeitz Museum