PPC Lime’s new owners to focus on developing markets, community wellbeing

17th May 2021 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Deputy Editor Online

PPC Lime’s new owners to focus on developing markets, community wellbeing

PPC Lime manufacturing facility, in the Northern Cape

The new owner of PPC Lime, Kgatelopele Lime, will focus on developing new markets for its product and expanding its customer base.

Kgatelopele is a consortium made up of mineral resources trader IMR Resources South Africa, mining-focused investment holding companies Kolobe Nala Investment Lime and HEX2M, as well as JJJL Mining – which is an entity owned by a former PPC CEO Johannes Claassen, who has an extensive understanding of PPC Lime and its operations.

Kgatelopele entered into transaction agreements with JSE-listed PPC earlier in May to acquire the subsidiary for R515-million.

The new owners expect the transaction to conclude by the end of the year; however, the rights, benefits and advantages of PPC Lime transferred to Kgatelopele on April 1.

Post completion of the transaction, PPC Lime will be 39% black-owned, including by black-economic empowerment investors, PPC Lime employees and host communities.

The name Kgatelopele (a Setswana word meaning “progress”) is shared with the local municipality in which the mine is located, to symbolise the new owners’ intention to embrace the broader community as partners.

The PPC Lime mining and processing operations, in the Northern Cape, manufacture reactive lime, hard burnt lime, hydrated lime, burnt dolomitic lime and raw limestone. It supplies industries such as iron and steel, alloys, gold, uranium, copper, nonferrous metals, sugar refining, water treatment and flue gas desulphurisation. 

PPC Lime mines out of two quarries, while a rotary kiln plant manufactures the burnt product. The primary limestone quarry started operations in 1954 in Lime Acres on an extensive reserve of metallurgical quality limestone and dolomite.

The total calcination capacity at Lime Acres is 900 000 t/y, making PPC Lime a leading supplier of these products in sub-Saharan Africa.

Traditionally, lime is mostly used in steel manufacturing, where it serves as a flux to remove impurities such as silica, phosphorus and sulphur.

Kolobele Nala founder Billy Mawasha tells Engineering News & Mining Weekly that PPC Lime has traditionally serviced the iron and steel sector, but there are opportunities for the company to pursue more opportunities in the water treatment and the nonferrous metals, including gold, platinum and copper mining sectors.

He adds that the company will also pursue supplying companies such as petrochemicals giant and coal miner Sasol with lime for fluorodeoxyglucose gas desulphurisation.

IMR Africa head Aneesh Misra says Kgatelopele’s growth plans will be stipulated around the markets and new industries that it wants to access – for example, volume growth will be tailored to industries the company signs on and what finished product customers demand.

Responding to whether Kgatelopele will undertake a rebrand of PPC Lime, Misra and Mawasha explain that they will be rebranding with a focus on identifying with employees and stakeholders, as well as position the company for moving into the Fourth Industrial Revolution – since lime is critical in the green agenda.

“Our strategy is not limited to lime but includes looking at the bigger picture of following the black industrialist narrative by supporting steel sector revitalisation wherever possible.

“With incoming support from government, there will be a new wave of growth in the steel sector and we want to position ourselves for those opportunities and act as an incubator to grow the value chain of mining,” Mawasha states.

Misra adds that the company will focus on sustainable growth adding to the existing workforce and that the group is cognisant of socioeconomic challenges in the Northern Cape and strives to balance the skills and knowledge the new owners can bring with existing expertise.

“These assets exist in that community and it is important to operate within that framework,” Mawasha notes, particularly since this legacy asset has been there for more than six decades. 

The site is estimated to have another five decades of extractable reserves.

PPC Lime has about 250 employees and more than 100 contractors across its sites.

“We have already identified several opportunities to maintain the world class status of the mine and at the same time identify new sources of demand, using our worldwide trading network.

“It is not often an opportunity presents itself to procure such a quality asset, and this consortium is ready to ensure it not only produces for many more years to come but is also reinvigorated by its new owners,” HEX2M comments.