RabeenGroup NEWS

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Cement NEWS

UltraTech Cement seeking buyers for international Binani Cement assets

03 May 2019

India/China/UAE: UltraTech Cement is looking for buyers for the cement production assets of Binani Cement in China and the UAE. It purchased Binani Cement’s share in joint-ventures in these countries, according to the Hindu newspaper. In China it runs a 3Mt/yr integrated plant and in the UAE it operates a 2.5Mt/yr grinding plant. However, before it was acquired by UltraTech Cement, Binani Cement was unable to sell its stake in its Chinese unit. Attempts to sell the plant in UAE are also expected to be difficult due to market overcapacity.

Senegal to introduce new cement tax

03 May 2019

Senegal: The government plans to introduce a new tax on cement to support a house-building campaign. President Macky Sall said that the tariff would increase the cost of bags of cement, according to the Agence de Presse Sénégalaise. He added that the country has the cheapest cement in the region.

Gabon cement production rises by 42% to 0.49Mt in 2018

03 May 2019

Gabon: Cement production rose by 42% year-on-year to 0.49Mt in 2018 from 0.34Mt in 2017. Sales rose at a similar rate to 0.49Mt, according to Infos Gabon. The Ministry of Economy attributed the growth in production and sales to the government’s decision to suspend imports of cement in mid-2017.

LafargeHolcim Algeria exports 30,000t of cement to Cameroon

03 May 2019

Algeria: Ciment Lafarge Souakri (CILAS) has started exporting a consignment of 30,000t of cement to Cameroon. The operation was handled via the port of Annaba, according to Radio Algeria. It is the cement producer’s sixth large-scale export operation to another Africa country. The subsidiary of LafargeHolcim is using Lafarge Trading to supply logistical support.

Colombian cement production picks up in first quarter

03 May 2019

Colombia: Ordinary Portland Cement production grew by 4% year-on-year to 3.05Mt in the first quarter of 2019 from 2.93Mt in the same period in 2018. Data from DANE, the Colombian statistics authority, shows that deliveries to the local market increased slightly, by 3%, to 2.94Mt.

Republic Cement holds rally for five million safe man hours

03 May 2019

Philippines: Republic Cement has held a rally assembling over one thousand construction workers at its Norzagaray Plant to aim for five million safe man hours. The cement producer has reached 4.5 million man hours at its expansion projects at Bulacan, Batangas and Iligan. This includes no lost-time injuries or fatalities.

“Safety is not a punishment. It’s not a punishment to wear your helmet, boots, or harness. It’s a gift of life – the life of your fellow workers and of your family,” said 
Roy Ruedas, Project Lead at Aboitiz Construction.

LafargeHolcim sells businesses in Malaysia and Singapore

02 May 2019

Malaysia/Singapore: Switzerland’s LafargeHolcim has signed a deal to sell its 51% stake in Lafarge Malaysia to YTL Cement for US$396m. Lafarge Malaysia operates three integrated cement and two grinding plants. With the divestment, LafargeHolcim will fully exit the Malaysian market. LafargeHolcim has also signed an agreement with YTL Cement Singapore for the divestment of its entire 91% share in Holcim Singapore.

YTL Cement is part of YTL Corporation, a Malaysian infrastructure conglomerate, which is active in cement production, construction, property development and utilities. The deal is expected to be completed within the second quarter of 2019. It is subject to approval by regulatory bodies.

Uzbek government to sell stake in Kyzylkumcement

02 May 2019

Uzbekistan: President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has approved a list of companies with state-owned shares to be sold to foreign investors. It includes the country’s 35.9% stake in Kyzylkumcement. Other sectors the government is divesting its shares in include insurance, banking, power generation, oil & gas and soft drinks.

Shree Digvijay Cement’s profit falls

02 May 2019

India: Shree Digvijay Cement’s income rose by 2.5% year-on-year to US$63.6m in the year to 31 March 2019 from US$62.1m in the same period in 2018. Its profit fell to US$0.3m from US$1.93m. Notably, its power and fuel costs grew by 29% to US$22.3m during the year. For the last quarter of the reporting year its income fell by 11%. Private equity company True North purchased a majority stake in the cement producer from Brazil’s Votorantim Cimentos in April 2019.

SCG Vietnam launches SCG Super Cement brand

02 May 2019

Vietnam: SCG Vietnam has launched its SCG Super Cement product. The product is intended as a ‘premium’ multi-purpose cement for home owners, developers, contractors and architects, according to the Vietnam Economic Times newspaper. It can be used in a variety of applications including brick-laying, plastering and concrete work for structure and foundations.

Charah Solutions opens fly ash terminal in Massachusetts

02 May 2019

US: Charah Solutions has opened a terminal for fly ash in Hopedale, Massachusetts. The unit has railway access and is connected to local road networks. It is intended to serve customers in New England.

Charah Solutions says that the terminal will increase the availability of fly ash from its MultiSource materials network locations in the South, New England, the Midwest, the Rocky Mountains and California. These locations supply Class C and Class F fly ash for ready mix concrete producers and other customers.

OneStone Consulting moves to Bulgaria

02 May 2019

Bulgaria: OneStone Consulting has moved its headquarters to Varna. The business-to-business consultancy company was previously based in Barcelona in Spain.

When China sneezes…

Written by  
01 May 2019

RHI Magnesita has taken the step this week of raising its prices globally by 5% for its products for its industrial and steel divisions. It has applied the increase to both its basic (magnesia and dolomite based) and non-basic products, varying in a range of 3% to 20%. It has blamed this on a global scarcity of raw materials caused mostly by Chinese environmental regulations on mining and processing. It goes on to attribute the issue to increased export taxes, more restrictive allocation of explosives and the nationalisation or controlled consolidation of mining operations in China. All of this has, “…structurally altered the production, pricing and dynamics for industrial minerals.”

Graph 1: Revenue in 2018 from industrial divisions at selected refractory producers. Source: Company reports. 

Graph 1: Revenue in 2018 from industrial divisions at selected refractory producers. Source: Company reports.

Other major refractory producers, including Imerys and Vesuvius, reported similar mounting raw material costs in 2018. They also implemented price changes to maintain income and/or sales growth. As can partly be seen in Graph 1 some of the major refractory producers reported mixed fortunes in 2018 for their divisions that produce products for the cement industry.

RHI Magnesita noted that 2018 was a year of steady refractory market growth and relative stability for cement and lime from a global market perspective, with some significant variances on a regional basis. Imery’s Energy Solutions & Specialties division suffered due to flat markets. However, its High Resistance Materials division (not shown in Graph 1) benefited from the ongoing integration of Kerneos into the group. The group restructured its businesses at the end of 2018 creating a High Temperature Materials & Solution segment that brings together its various refractory concerns. Vesuvius’ Steel Advanced Refractories division, which include monolithic products, reported particular growth in the Americas in 2018. Although it noted some market share loss in North Asia and in certain European countries, the latter due in price increases.

Refractories aren’t the only material or commodity used by the cement industry that has been distorted by Chinese domestic policy. Regulations on imports of waste streams including plastics started in 2017 leading to European and US suppliers struggling to find alternate markets. One implications of this appears to have been waste firms focusing on separating plastic into high and low calorific fractions to fight the downward price trends of a market glut. The outcomes are different but the sheer size and variety of China’s economy is increasingly affecting the cement industry in new and different ways.

RHI Magnesita’s travails in China and the debacle of waste imports bring to mind the quote by the 19th century Austrian diplomat Klemens von Metternic, ‘When Paris sneezes, Europe catches a cold.’ Metternic was referring to Napoleonic-era France and its aftermath. The modern version may have been used to reference the US but maybe it should be instead, ‘When China sneezes, the world catches a cold.’ Gesundheit.

Mohammed Al-Subaie appointed chairman of Eastern Province Cement

Written by  
01 May 2019

Saudi Arabia: Mohammed Al-Subaie has been appointed as the chairman of Eastern Province Cement. He succeeds Abdulmohsen Al-Ruwaished, who has resigned. Ibrahim Al Ruwais has also been appointed as the company’s vice-chairman.

Gary Moore appointed Director of Global Business Development at Untha

Written by  
01 May 2019

UK: Austria’s Untha has appointed Gary Moore as its Director of Global Business Development. Moore is currently the Sales Director of Untha UK, a position he will retain. His new global position will see him focus on improving the growth of Untha America.

Indian cement production rises by 10% to 91.5Mt in first quarter of 2019

01 May 2019

India: Cement production grew by 10% year-on-year to 91.5Mt in the first quarter of 2019 from 81.9Mt in the same period in 2018. Data from the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) at the Ministry of Commerce & Industry shows that production sped up in March 2019.

Ambuja Cement’s sales rise in first quarter of 2019

01 May 2019

India: Ambuja Cement’s net sales grew by 3% year-on-year to US$410m in the first three months of 2019 from US$398m in the same period in 2018. Its cement sales volumes rose by 2% to 6.37Mt from 6.22Mt. Its operating earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell by 9% to US$66.7m from its net profit after tax increased by 57% to US$61.4m. The cement producer said that its focus on alternative fuels had partly mitigated a ‘significant’ rise in power and fuels costs.

Indocement’s sales rise by 8.5% to US$262m in first quarter

01 May 2019

Indonesia: Indocement’s revenue grew by 8.5% year-on-year to US$262m in the first three months of 2019 from US$242m in the same period in 2018. Its net income rose by 50% to US$27.9m from US$18.6m.

Philippines government says no need for cement price cap yet

01 May 2019

Philippines: Ramon Lopez, the head of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), says that there is no need to impose a price cap on cement yet. However, he said that the government might intervene if the price of cement reached around US$4.6/bag, according to the Philippine Star newspaper. The DTI applied a US$4/t tariff on imported cement in mid-January 2019 for a period of 200 days in response to a surge in imports.

Cementos Pacasmayo’s revenue down on public investment slowdown

01 May 2019

Peru: Cementos Pacasmayo’s sales revenue dropped slightly to US$94.6m in the first three months of 2019. Its consolidated earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) also fell a little to US$28.3m. However, its sales volumes of cement, concrete and precast rose by 5.4% to 593Mt from 563Mt. It blamed the declines in revenue and earnings on a slow down in public investment connected to a change in regional governments.

The cement producer also said that it has started selling cement in Iquitos. The capital of the country’s Amazonian Loreto region has been hard to reach due to its lack of road links. Cementos Pacasmayo said that it has been ‘aggressively’ taking advantage of a new tax law that supports its Rioja plant giving it a competitive advantage.

Breedon Group reports good progress in first quarter

01 May 2019

UK/Ireland: Breedon Group says that it has made ‘good progress’ across the business in the first quarter of 2019. Its revenue grew by 10% year-on-year to around Euro276m on a like-for-like basis. It attributed this to milder weather than in the same period in 2018. It said that it expects construction output in the UK to rise by 3% and at a higher rate in the Republic of Ireland.

National Cement tendering for new line at Ragland plant

01 May 2019

US: National Cement is tendering for a new 5000t/day production line at its Ragland plant in Alabama. The subsidiary of France’s Vicat has reportedly had a permit for the upgrade since 2006. The plant operates one dry process kiln with a production capacity of 1.9Mt/yr.

Martin Marietta benefits from aggregate sales in first quarter

01 May 2019

US: Martin Marietta has benefited from aggregate sales volume growth in the first quarter of 2019. Its revenue grew by 17% year-on-year to US$939m from US$802m. Its earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by 28% to US$159m from US$124m. However, the gross profit on its cement business was down and both sales and profit was down for ready-mixed concrete (RMX). Despite this the company said that its cement shipments and pricing increased 7.3% due to demand in Texas, a new Houston-area sales yard and an enhanced product line.

Rockwell Automation launches updated analytic product

01 May 2019

US: Rockwell Automation has launched the FactoryTalk Analytics LogixAI module, an update to its Project Sherlock software product. It is intended to detect production anomalies and alert workers so they can investigate or intervene. The add-on module for the company’s ControlLogix fits directly into a control chassis and streams controller data over the backplane to build predictive models. It can continuously monitor a production operation, detecting anomalies against its derived understanding.

The FactoryTalk Analytics LogixAI module is the newest addition to the FactoryTalk Analytics portfolio from Rockwell Automation. The portfolio includes FactoryTalk Analytics for Devices, which learns about an automation system’s structure to tell workers about problems with individual devices. The LogixAI module expands on this by learning about an automation system’s application and helping identify anomalies with its overall function.

Quinn Industrial’s turnover rises by 15% to Euro240m in 2018

12 April 2019

Ireland: Quinn Industrial’s turnover rose by 15% year-on-year to Euro240m in 2018 from Euro209m in 2017. Its earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) grew by 10% to Euro26.4m from Euro23.9m

“Our Building Products division is currently planning to enter the ready-mix concrete market in the greater Dublin area to meet rising demand from the expanding construction and housing markets,” said chief executive officer (CEO) Liam McCaffrey. He added that, despite Brexit, the business is focused on growing in both the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Quinn Building Products continued to benefit from the on-going building recovery in the Republic of Ireland as well continued strong exports to the UK where the introduction of its new plastic bagged cement product at the start of 2018 allowed it to expand its market presence.

Quinn Industrial is also considering investment options, including an initial public offering (IPC) or a cash injection from private equity, according to the Irish Independent newspaper. However, the company has not commented on the issue.

Global Cement and Concrete Association joins the Concrete Sustainability Council

12 April 2019

UK: The Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) is formally joining the Concrete Sustainability Council (CSC). By doing so it is adding its support to the only world-wide industry specific system that certifies the sustainability performance of concrete plants and their supply chain across the globe. Developed in conjunction with social and environmental stakeholders, the CSC is the industry recognised authentication system, with more than 160 plants certified to its standards across eight different countries.

“We are delighted at the decision of the GCCA to champion the many sustainability benefits of concrete by putting their global reach behind the CSC. We look forward to reinforcing and accelerating our work with their support,” said CSC chairman, Christian Artelt.

Clients, developers and contractors can be assured of socially and environmentally responsible practices through the concrete supply chain when specifying CSC certified concrete. Internationally recognised sustainable project assessment methods such as BREEAM and DGNB credit design teams and their projects with points when CSC certified concrete is specified and procured.

Unitherm Cemcon launches new MAS DT rotary kiln burner

12 April 2019

Austria: Unitherm Cemcon has launched the MAS DT rotary kiln burner, a new product in its Mono Airduct System (MAS) product line. The new burner is already in operation at six cement plants in Austria, Germany and France.

The new design uses a more efficient primary air injection, resulting in higher effective momentum and optimised combustion. Placing the adjustable primary air openings directly at the burner tip leads to unobstructed injection of the air jets into the kiln. With minimum losses at the air nozzles, the entrainment of secondary air is improved by approximately 15%.

The new primary air system, with discs instead of flexible hoses, requires less space inside the primary air channel. Therefore, the burner is smaller in diameter and lighter in weight, which reduces investment costs. Unitherm Cemcon says that the cooling of the outer jacket tube with the MAS system (hose and disc design) is superior to that of other rotary kiln burners, as 100% of the primary air is used for cooling. With the new disc system, the cooling of the burner tip is improved even further. The producer added that all new MAS DT burners showed improved lifetime of the refractory lining at the burner. On average the refractory lifetime is extended by approximately 20%.

Cemex Ventures invests in logistics software supplier Linkx

12 April 2019

Mexico: Cemex Ventures has invested in Linkx, a company that offers software to optimise goods delivery. The company’s software solution allows control of deliveries and vehicles in real time, allowing for data-based decision-making and facilitating communication and information among all involved parties: shipper, carrier, and receiver.

“This investment is a clear example of our offer. Linkx came to us at a very early stage, and together, we worked on continuous improvements by reinforcing their minimum viable product and offering continuous feedback on our knowledge of industry and technology. After numerous optimisations, we have piloted this solution with several Cemex clients to achieve a very robust solution for the supply chain management challenge,” said Gonzalo Galindo, chief executive officer (CEO) of Cemex Ventures.

Cemex Ventures is the corporate venture capital wing of Cemex that was launched in 2017. It invests in startups with potential in the construction industry and works with entrepreneurs, universities and other stakeholders.

Attock Cement’s nine month profit down

12 April 2019

Pakistan: Attock Cement’s profit fell by 25% year-on-year to US$9.7m in the nine months of the end of March 2019 from US$12.9m in the same period to March 2018. Its revenue rose by 36% to US$114m from US$83.7m.

 

Cemex Colombia strikes deal to start Maceo cement plant

15 April 2019

Colombia: Cemex Colombia has reached a deal with the Attorney General allowing it to operate its Maceo cement plant in Antioquia. Under the terms of the government-brokered agreement Cemex will lease the land from CI Calizas y Minerales for around US$15,000/yr, according to the El Espectador newspaper. The lease has a duration of 21 years and this can be extended by another 10 years.

In 2016 Cemex fired several senior staff members in relation to the Maceo project and its subsidiary’s chief executive resigned. This followed an internal audit and investigation into payments worth around US$20.5m made to a non-governmental third party in connection with the acquisition of the land, mining rights and benefits of the tax free zone for the project. The US Department of Justice is also investigating the project.

Loma Negra and Bridgestone start water conservation partnership

15 April 2019

Argentina: Loma Negra and tyre manufacturer Bridgestone have started a partnership to re-use water in the Llavallol suburb of Buenos Aires. Bridgestone will provide Loma Negra with 200,000l/days of filtered water for use at its operations, according to the Mercado newspaper. In return Loma Negra will use less water from the local aquifer.

CRH preparing to sell European Distribution business

15 April 2019

Ireland: CRH has appointed Bank of America to sell its European Distribution business. The sale is valued at around Euro2bn and is expected to start in May 2019, according to sources quoted by Reuters. Private equity companies including Advent, Lone Star and CVC have been linked to the sale. CRH is due to issue a trading updating in late April 2019.

Thomas Zement orders selective catalytic reduction unit from GEA for Erwite cement plant

15 April 2019

Germany: Thomas Zement has ordered a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) unit from GEA for its Erwite cement plant to reduce its NOx emissions. The order includes two reactors for selective catalytic reduction (SCR) including handling of the flue gas transport by induced draft (ID) fans and integration into plant. The contract also includes engineering services as well as the supply, installation and commissioning of steel structures, SCR catalysts, ID fans, heating circuits, duct connection and adaptation of NH3 injection from existing storage tanks. Production will continue at the site during the installation of the SCR unit.

Cemex Colombia‘s long road to Maceo

17 April 2019

Good news for Cemex Colombia this week with an agreement reached to open its Maceo cement plant in Antioquia. Local media was reporting that the cement producer has struck a government-brokered deal with CI Calizas y Minerales to lease the land it built its plant on. Finally, the new(ish) US$350m integrated plant can start operation.

For those unfamiliar with the debacle, Cemex has been fighting the fallout publicly since 2016, following a dodgy land deal at the site. The 1Mt/yr integrated Maceo plant was originally announced in 2014 with full operation scheduled for late 2016. Then, in October 2016 Cemex fired several senior staff members in relation to the project and its subsidiary’s chief executive resigned. This followed an internal audit and investigation into payments worth around US$20m made to a non-government third party in connection with the acquisition of the land, mining rights and benefits of the tax free zone for the project. Other irregularities are also alleged to be linked to the project. As well as the Colombian authorities being involved, the US Department of Justice is also running its own investigation into the affair with wider implications for Cemex’s operations in other Latin American countries. Some of the sacked staff members and others have since been investigated on corruption charges.

 Graph 1: Cement production in Colombia, 2010 – 2018. Source: DANE.

Graph 1: Cement production in Colombia, 2010 – 2018. Source: DANE.

Looking at the wider Colombian market though, it does make one wonder whether the long-delayed plant is really necessary. As Graph 1 shows, cement production rose steadily year-on-year to 2015 before it hit a downturn. It reached a high of 13Mt in 2015 before declining. Production in 2018 grew slightly compared to 2017 but not at the same rate seen previously. In Antioquia specifically despatches increased by 1.3% in 2018, above the national average of 0.2%. Despatches now appear to have continued into January and February 2019.

Cemex Colombia started to benefit from an improved fourth quarter in 2018 as the general economy picked up. Despite this its overall net sales and operating earnings fell in 2018. However, it did flag its earnings margin as a concern with higher freight and energy costs in the fourth quarter of 2018, although it partially offset this with higher prices. Cementos Argos, the other big producer in Colombia, reported a similar picture to Cemex, although in a better position. Its cement volumes fell slightly for the year in 2018 but picked up fast in the fourth quarter. Annual revenue was down slightly, as were adjusted earnings. In its opinion the construction industry improved in the second half of 2018 due to an improved housing market and infrastructure projects.

Given the downturn in production since 2015 the thought does occur whether the opening of the Maceo plant being delayed accidentally helped Cemex or not. It has probably been losing money by not running the plant but if, for example, the company had some sort of insurance to protect it against unexpected delays it might still benefit. However, if evidence of serious wider misconduct in both Colombia and other Latin American countries are found by the US authorities, then things could get expensive. This would be unfortunate, particularly in Colombia, given that the market looks set to recover.

Saud Suliman Al Juhani appointed as chairman of Tabuk Cement

17 April 2019

Saudi Arabia: Tabuk Cement has appointed Saud Suliman Al Juhani as its new chairman. It follows the resignation of Saeed Obaid, who has left the position due to other business commitments but will retain a seat on the board. Tareq Khalid Al Angari has also been appointed as the Vice Chairman. Both positions will last until 25 January 2020.

US Concrete appoints Ronnie Pruitt as president and chief operating officer

17 April 2019

US: US Concrete has appointed Ronnie Pruitt as its president and chief operating officer. Pruitt will continue to report to chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) William J Sandbrook and, in this expanded role, will take over many corporate functions that support the company’s operational business units.

Pruitt, aged 48 years, has been with US Concrete since 2015 and has over 25 years of industry experience. Prior to joining US Concrete, he served as Vice President of Martin Marietta Materials and as Vice President of Cement Production and Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Texas Industries (TXI).

Michael Lambert appointed to the management board of Vecoplan

17 April 2019

Germany: Michael Lambert has been appointed to the management board of Vecoplan. He has been responsible for the company’s commercial operations since 2014 and is the manager of its European subsidiaries. In this capacity he supports Werner Berens, who has been chief executive officer (CEO) of Vecoplan since 2012 and is in charge of Vecoplan’s divisions and supply chain activities.

Lambert, aged 40 years, has a degree in business administration and has held a number of management positions. In 2008 he assumed the post of commercial director in the Saar-Gummi Group and he became manager of the group’s non-automotive business in 2011. In January 2014 Lambert went to Vecoplan, where he was appointed chief financial officer (CFO).

True North buys majority stake in Shree Digvijay

17 April 2019

India: Private equity company True North has purchased a 54% stake in Shree Digvijay for a reported US$17m from Brazil’s Votorantim Cementos. Other companies bought the rest of Votorantim’s 75% share in the business, according to Bloomberg. True North signed a deal to buy the cement producer in late 2018. Shree Digvijay operates an integrated cement plant at Jamnagr in Gujarat.

Maple Leaf Cement commissions new production line at Iskanderabad plant

17 April 2019

Pakistan: Maple Leaf Cement has commissioned a new 7300t/day production line at its Iskanderabad plant. The upgrade will increase the unit’s total production to 18,000t/day. The line was supplied by Denmark’s FLSmidth. The total cost of the project was US$184m. Commercial production on the new line is scheduled to start in late April 2019.

Attock Cement commissions grinding plant in Iraq

17 April 2019

Iraq: Pakistan’s Attock Cement has commissioned its new grinding plant in Basra. Civil, mechanical and electrical construction work on the unit was finished in January 2019.

Electricity supply upgrade to Arabian Cement’s Rabigh plant to be completed in 2021

17 April 2019

Saudi Arabia: Arabian Cement says that the National Electricity Transmission Company plans to complete an expansion to a high-voltage plant in Rabigh by the third quarter of 2021. The project has been delayed but the cement producer said that this will have no financial impact, according to Mubasher. Arabian Cement originally signed an agreement with the National Electricity Transmission Company to supply electricity to its Rabigh plant in 2015. In November 2018 it said that an upgrade to its cement mills was 80% complete.

Rwanda Bureau of Standards blocks Ugandan cement imports

17 April 2019

Rwanda: Raymond Murenzi, the director general of the Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS), says that cement imported from Uganda in March 2019 was blocked because it did not meet minimum quality requirements. The imported product was found to be below the designated weight of 50kg, according to the New Times newspaper. Three trucks with 30t loads of cement from Hima Cement were prevented from crossing the border.

Previously, similar issues have occurred dating back to 2015 and the RBS has notified the supplier on each occasion. The company is then given 14 days to re-export the goods.

Polish cement production grew by 12% to 18.9Mt in 2019

17 April 2019

Poland: Data from the Cement Producers Association (SPC) shows that cement production grew by 12% year-on-year to 18.9Mt in 2019. Concrete production rose by 6.8% to 25.3Mm3. This was attributed to a growing construction sector, according to the Polish News Bulletin. Both cement and concrete production is expected to continue growing in 2019 to 19Mt and 26.2Mm3respectively.

Ferus Smit launches MV Shetland cement carrier

17 April 2019

Netherlands: Ferus Smit has launched MV Shetland at its Westerbroek Yard. The 8000DWT vessel is the third dedicated cement carrier built for JT Cement, a joint venture between Sweden’s Erik Thun and Norway’s Jebsen Cement.

The ship is equipped with a liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelled propulsion system to reduce its emissions. It incorporates a 200m3 pressurised LNG tank positioned in the foreship. The cement cargo system will consist of a fully automated cement loading and unloading system, based on fluidisation of cement by means of compressed air.

Chinese joint ventures boost Tajik cement production

16 April 2019

Tajikistan: The Ministry of Industry and New Technologies (MOINT) says that Tajik-Chinese joint ventures Chzhungtsai Mohir Cement, Huaxin Gayur Cement, and Huaxin Gayur Sughd Cement accounted for nearly 85% of local cement production in the first three months of 2019. Overall production grew by 9% year-on-year to 0.84Mt from 0.75Mt in the same period in 2018, according to the Asia-Plus News Agency. Around 36% of production was exported with more than 150,000t of cement to Uzbekistan, more than 140,000t of cement to Afghanistan and nearly 12,000t of cement to Kyrgyzstan. Tajikistan has 13 cement plants with a total production capacity of 4.7Mt/yr.

Bamburi Cement’s profit plummets due to input costs

16 April 2019

Kenya: Bamburi Cement’s profit before tax fell to US$6.73m in 2018 from US$40.7m in 2017. Its turnover rose by 4% to US$369m from US$356m. Its cement volumes grew by 5%. It blamed the drop in profits on increasing energy and raw material costs. The subsidiary of LafargeHolcim noted that the market delinked by 5% in Kenya, its primary market, and was ‘flat’ in Uganda. It also noted ‘increased competitive pressure’ due to cement grinding production capacity and the ‘shrinking’ market.

EAPCC staff demand jail for directors over pay row

16 April 2019

Kenya: Employees of the East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) have filed an application at the Court of Appeal to jail the company’s directors for not paying them. The workers argue that, despite both the labour and appellate courts having directed that they be paid, the company directors have failed to comply, according to the Business Daily newspaper. Over 400 workers were awarded nearly US$14m under a 2012 – 2015 collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

Matsiloje Portland Cement unlikely to reopen without government support for block on imports

16 April 2019

Botswana: Rachit Josh, the managing director of Matsiloje Portland Cement, say that the company will struggle to reopen without government support to block imports. The cement producer closed its plant at Matsiloje, near Francistown in January 2018, according to the Monitor newspaper. Josh blamed cement imports from South Africa as being a particular concern.

In June 2018 the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment said it was starting to introduce restrictions on imports restricting imports to 70% locally sourced product. However, it is unclear when these measures will be implemented.

Matsiloje Portland Cement is a subsidiary of Nortex Group. Its integrated plant had a production capacity of 30,000t/yr. The company produced the lime it used for its cement and it sourced other raw materials from South Africa and fly ash from a power station at Morupule.

Hima Cement supplying building materials for Karuma Hydropower project

16 April 2019

Uganda: Hima Cement, a subsidiary of LafargeHolcim, is a building materials partner for the on-going 600MW Karuma Hydropower project on the River Nile. The plant is being built by China’s SinoHydro Corporation at an estimated cost of around US$1.7bn. The project was started in 2013 and it is scheduled to be completed in December 2019.

Hima Cement has been one of two cement suppliers assisting it. It has provided a fine cement that maintains its early strength while requiring a lower water content. Over 114,000t of Powermax CEM II A-P 42.5N have been supplied to the project, chosen for its low heat requirements for hydration and its pozzolanic content which results in long-term durability. Delivery of this product has required a dedicated fleet of 60 bulk cement trucks when cement demand for the project was at its peak.

Cemex USA awarded 2019 Energy Star Partner of the Year

16 April 2019

US: Cemex USA has been awarded the 2019 Energy Star Partner of the Year by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for its efforts in energy management. It was presented with the award by the EPA and the US Department of Energy at a ceremony in Washington, DC.

“At Cemex, sustainability is key to our vision of building a better future, embedded in our core business strategy and day-to-day operations,” said Cemex USA President Ignacio Madridejos. “We strive to conserve energy where possible with energy management initiatives, and many of our operations have received repeated recognition for their efforts. Cemex is also incorporating the use of more alternative fuels.”

Wacker opens competence centre for cement and concrete applications in Shanghai

16 April 2019

China: Germany’s Wacker Group has opened a new competence centre for cement and concrete applications in Shanghai. The laboratory will develop silicone based products and solutions which are able to improve the performance of cement and concrete and to make these materials more sustainable. Special focus is on silicone admixtures and performance enhancers.

“As a regional innovation platform focusing on cement and concrete, the new lab will cooperate with leading Chinese universities, research institutions and the industry. Its goal is to develop innovative products and solutions which support the sustainable development of the Chinese construction materials industry,” said Paul Lindblad, president of Wacker Greater China.

At its new competence centre in Shanghai, Wacker will be able to investigate how silicone chemistry can protect cement and concrete against environmental influences and, at the same time, improve the durability of these materials.

Global Cement forecasts future cement industry trends at 61st IEEE-IAS/PCA Cement Technical Conference 2019

30 April 2019

US: Robert McCaffrey, the editorial director of Global Cement, has presented ‘The global cement industry in 2050’ at the 61st IEEE-IAS/PCA Cement Technical Conference 2019 taking place at St Louis in Missouri. The presentation used data from a variety of sources to explore how the cement and concrete industries could look in 2050 including shifts in societies, demographics, technologies, business and the environment.

SCG first quarter earnings grow on price increase

30 April 2019

Thailand: Siam Cement Group’s (SCG) cement division’s sales grew by 4% year-on-year to US$1.51bn in the first quarter of 2019. Its earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by 10% to US$222m. It attributed the growth in earnings on increased cement prices and cost savings. Overall, the group’s sales and earnings fell due to poor performance from its chemicals division.

Dangote Cement’s earnings down in first quarter of 2019

30 April 2019

Nigeria: Dangote Cement’s earnings have fallen due to elections and price cuts in Nigeria and competition in the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. Its earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) dropped by 11.2% year-on-year to US$312m in the first quarter of 2019 from US$351m in the same period in 2018. Sales revenue fell slightly to US$670m, due to declines in Nigeria. Cement sales volumes grew slightly to 3.99Mt in Nigeria and by 4.8% to 2.35Mt in the rest of Africa. Despite this Dangote Cement noted that its sales volumes in Nigeria were its third-highest quarterly volume ever.

“It was a challenging quarter with delays to the Nigerian elections that impacted sales, increased discounting in Nigeria and tougher market conditions in South Africa and other Pan-African markets. In addition, our variable costs were hit by foreign exchange effects, as well as higher fuel and distribution costs,” said Joe Makoju, group chief executive officer (CEO) of Dangote Cement.

UNACEM’s income stable so far in 2019

30 April 2019

Peru: UNACEM’s income rose by 1% year-on-year to US$145m in the first quarter of 2019 from US$143m in the same period in 2018. Its profit grew by 21% to US$57.5m from US$47.4m. Its cement despatches increased by 6.3% to 1.27Mt from 1.20Mt. The cement producer said that although its sale volumes had increased its prices had lowered. Fuel costs also rose.

Cimentos de Mocambique closes Matola plant

30 April 2019

Mozambique: Cimentos de Mocambique has closed its Matola plant due to low demand. It made the decision following large losses, according to the O Pais newspaper. The subsidiary of Brazil’s Intercement said that the unit cost US$25m. It operates one integrated plant and four grinding plants in the country with a total production capacity of 2.9Mt/yr.

CIMAF Gabon assures government it can meet local demand

30 April 2019

Gabon: Ciments de l’Afrique (CIMAF) Gabon has assured the government that it can increases national production to over 1Mt/yr from 0.65Mt/yr at present. Carmen Ndaot, the Minister of Industry, and other government representatives visited the CIMAF’s grinding plant as part of an assessment of a memorandum of understanding signed with the subsidiary of Morocco’s CIMAF, according to the L’Union newspaper. The company plans to spend Euro100m towards building a new plant. It is scheduled to be completed by mid-2021.

Votorantim Cimentos to open limestone grinding plant at Nobres

30 April 2019

Brazil: Votorantim Cimentos plans to open a limestone grinding plant at Nobres. in Mato Grosso state to produce agricultural lime. The unit will have a production capacity of 0.7Mt/yr, according to the Valor newspaper. Once the new plant is opened in the second quarter of 2019 the company will have a total agricultural lime production capacity of 4.5Mt/yr.

The initiative is part of the building materials group’s plans to diversify its business. For the agricultural lime market it is targeting Central-West, Central-North and Northeast parts of Brazil. The Nobres plant can also produce 0.25Mt/yr of limestone filler for farm use. Following the upgrade to the Nobres plant it will be able to produce 0.75Mt/yr of dolomitic and calcitic limestone. These limestone products both have agricultural applications as soil nutrients.

INC to launch structural cement product

30 April 2019

Paraguay: Industria Nacional del Cemento (INC) plans to launch CP 2-C 40, a cement product intended for use in structures such as bridges and roads. The new product is scheduled to be released in June 2019, according to IP Paraguay. Following the launch the cement producer will have four main cement products.

Anhui Conch’s revenue grows by 63% to US$4.53bn in first quarter

29 April 2019

China: Anhui Conch’s revenue grew by 63% year-on-year to US$4.53bn in the first quarter of 2019 from US$2.79bn in the same period in 2018. Its net profit rose by 27% to US$903m from US$710m.

China Resources Cement’s sales down in Guangdong and Guangxi

29 April 2019

China: China Resources Cement’s turnover fell by 6.7% year-on-year to US$957m in the first quarter of 2019 from US$1.03bn in the same quarter of 2018. Its profit fell by 16% to US$189m from US$226m. Its cement sales volumes dropped by 7.7% to 15.2Mt from 16.5Mt, clinker sales fell by 2% to 1.16Mt from 1.18Mt and concrete volumes declined by 15% to 2.58Mm3 from 3.03Mm3. Sales volumes fell in the company’s main markets in Guangdong and Guangxi.

Qatar National Cement preparing to export up to 3Mt/yr

29 April 2019

Qatar: Qatar National Cement Company (QNCC) is preparing to export up to 3Mt/yr of clinker to markets in Asia and Africa. QNCC chairman and managing director Salem Butti al Naimi said that the company was actively taking to Indian companies and that an agreement might be signed soon, according to the Qatar Tribune newspaper. He also mentioned potential targets in Iraq, Yemen and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.

Philippines Tariff Commission delays public hearing

29 April 2019

Philippines: The Tariff Commission has delayed a public hearing on the formal investigation on the imposition of safeguard measure on cement imports. The meeting was scheduled to take place in early May 2019, according to the Philippine Star newspaper. The commission said it was postponed in order to give it time to visit plants and check its data.

The investigation started in February 2019 to check whether a provisional safeguard duty imposed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) should remain in place. The DTI applied a US$4/t tariff in the form of a cash bond on imported cement in mid-January 2019 for a period of 200 days in response to a surge in imports.

Lucky Cement income down on fuel costs

29 April 2019

Pakistan: Lucky Cement’s revenue grew by 12% year-on-year to US$729m in the first nine months to 31 March 2019 from US$654m in the same period in 2018. Its local cement and clinker sales volumes dropped by 13% to 4.4Mt from 5.1Mt. Export sales more than doubled to 1.5Mt from 0.7Mt, Overall sales volumes rose to 6Mt. Its income fell by 18% to US$80m from US$97.3m. It said that its cost of sales rose by 14.1% due to rises in the cost of coal, packing material and other fuel prices.

The cement producer said that a 2.6Mt/yr expansion project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be completed by the end of 2019. Contacting for a new 1.2Mt/yr plant in Samawah in Iraq has been finalised including a power plant from Finland’s Wärtsilä. Commercial production at the site is planned for mid-2020.

Development Bank of Namibia to talk to government about Ohorongo Cement

29 April 2019

Namibia: The Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) says it will consult the government about its minority stake in Ohorongo Cement following the purchase of a majority share in the cement producer by Singapore’s International Cement Group. International Cement Group acquired a 69.8% share in Ohorongo Cement from Germany’s Schwenk Namibia in March 2019, according to the Namibian newspaper. The DBN said that it originally invested in Ohorongo Cement to promote economic development in Namibia.

Romanian cement sales rise by 5.5% to 8.9Mt in 2018

29 April 2019

Romania: Data from CIROM, the Romanian cement association, shows that cement sales grew by 5.5% year-on-year to 8.9Mt in 2018, according to the 
Ziarul Financiar newspaper. The country operates nine integrated cement plants run by HeidelbergCement, LafargeHolcim and CRH.

John King Chains USA joins the Power Transmission Distributors Association

29 April 2019

US: John King Chains USA has joined the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA). The association brings together over 370 industrial power transmission and motion control distribution channel and manufacturing companies.

Venti Oelde expands sales network in Bulgaria and Central America

29 April 2019

Bulgaria/Panama: Germany’s Venti Oelde has increased its sales presence in Europe and Central America. Its has appointed a new sales representative in Bulgaria, as well as one in Panama to cover countries including Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The company manufactures industrial products including fans and filters.

Cemex under pressure in first quarter from falling cement volumes in US and Mexico

26 April 2019

Mexico: Cemex’s cement sales volumes fell by 6% year-on-year to 14.9Mt in the first quarter of 2019 from 15.9Mt in the same period in 2018. It has blamed this on falling volumes in its key markets in Mexico and the US. Its net sales dropped by 3% to US$3.24bn from US$3.34bn. Its operating earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) decreased by 6% to US$562m from US$598m. Its concrete sales volumes fell slightly to 12.1Mm3 from 12.2Mm3.

“We are pleased with the 1% top-line growth we achieved during the first quarter, despite volume declines in our two most important markets: Mexico and the US. During the quarter, we enjoyed improved pricing performance in all our regions with favourable volume dynamics in Europe. In the US, ready-mix and aggregates volumes also grew despite adverse weather in part of our footprint,” said Fernando A Gonzalez, chief executive officer (CEO) of Cemex.

By region, the group also reported falling sales in its South, Central America and the Caribbean and Asia, Middle East and Africa regions. However, sales volumes of both cement and concrete increased by over 10% in Europe. Here, net sales rose by 3% to US$805m from US$781m. This was attributed to ‘strong’ domestic demand in most countries and a mild winter.

Huaxin Cement’s sale rise by 335 to Euro$887m in first quarter

26 April 2019

China: Huaxin Cement’s sales revenue rose by 33% year-on-year to US$887m in the first quarter of 2019 from US$669m in the same period in 2018. Its net profit nearly doubled to US$150m from US$78.7m.

Bestway Cement’s turnover stable

26 April 2019

Pakistan: Bestway Cement’s turnover grew slightly to US$421m in the nine months to 31 March 2019 from US$414m in the same period in 2018. Its profit rose by 9.5% to US$67.4m from US$61.5m.

DG Khan’s profits down so far in 2019

26 April 2019

Pakistan: DG Khan’s sales rose by 30% to US$215m in the nine months to 31 March 2019 from US$165m in the same period in 2018. However, its profit dropped by nearly half to US$18.5m from US$35.1m. Its cost of sales increased by 56% in the reporting period.

Maple Leaf Cement’s sales fall by 5% in nine months

26 April 2019

Pakistan: Maple Leaf Cement’s net sales fell by 5% year-on-year to US$129m in the first quarter of 2019 from US$136m in the same period in 2018. Its profit after tax dropped to US$13.4m from US$23.8m.

Cherat Cement’s turnover grows slowly in nine months

26 April 2019

Pakistan: Cherat Cement’s turnover grew slightly to US$78.8m in the nine months to 31 March 2019. Its net profit rose by 25% to US$15.9m from US$12.7m. Third quarter turnover and net profit grew faster in the third quarter.

Central Pollution Control Board warns Ramco Cement’s Ariyalur plant

26 April 2019

India: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued a show cause notice to Ramco Cement’s Ariyalur plant in Tamil Nadu for breaching air pollution limits. CPCB inspectors found that the particulate matter (PM) and NOx emissions were higher than allowed during an inspection in March 2019, according to the New Indian Express newspaper. The CPCB has recommended that the unit supplies continuous data transmissions and calibrates of all of its monitors to CPCB Online Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems guidelines.

UltraTech Cement holds profits as energy costs mount

25 April 2019

India: UltraTech Cement’s net sales rose by 20% year-on-year to US$5.24bn in its 2019 financial year from US$4.35bn in the 2018 reporting period. Its profit after tax grew by 10% to US$347m from US$317m. Its power and fuel costs increased by 33% to US$1.20bn from US$903m.

The cement producer said that production stabilised at its integrated plant in Manavar, Madhya Pradesh, reaching a clinker production capacity utilisation rate of 100% in the quarter that ended on 31 March 2019. It worked on the plants of its UltraTech Nathdwara Cement subsidiary to reach a production utilisation rate of 72% in March 2019. Both plants were acquired from Binani Cement in late 2018.

The plants it acquired from Jaypee Associates in 2017 are running at a capacity utilisation rate of 82%. A planned shutdown was undertaken at its Bela plant in Madhya Pradesh plant for cost improvements. The company intends to install waste heat recovery (WHR) units at these plants. Work on the 4Mt/yr Bara grinding unit is on track and the first phase of the expansion is expected to be commissioned during the first quarter of its 2020 financial year.

Colacem’s Spoleto plant idled as unions await business plan

25 April 2019

Italy: Colacem’s Spoleto cement plant has been idled. The kiln has been shut down and quarrying work suspended, according to La Nazione newspaper. The integrated plant was acquired by Colacem from Cemitaly in early April 2019. Union representatives from the plant have asked Colacem what its business plans and staffing levels will be. Currently the plant employs 80 people.

Ukrainian cement production rises by 23% to 1.53Mt in first quarter of 2019

25 April 2019

Ukraine: Data from the State Statistics Service shows that cement production grew by 23% year-on-year to 1.53Mt in the first quarter of 2019. Production accelerated in March 2019, according to the Ukrainian News Agency. Annual cement production fell by 1% to 8.93Mt in 2018.

Cementos Argos breaks production record in the Dominican Republic

25 April 2019

Dominican Republic: Cementos Argos says it had broken its production record at its 0.54Mt/yr Najayo grinding plant. The plant produced 50,194t in one month, its highest rate in 20 years. The Colombian operates two ready-mix concrete plants and a cement grinding plant in the country.

Cement shortage in Senegal due to breakdown at SOCOCIM plant

25 April 2019

Senegal: The Ministry of Commerce says that a shortage of cement should be averted by the end of April 2019. A breakdown in the clinker production line at the SOCOCIM plant in Rufisque has led to reduced supplies, according to Senegal Direct. The subsidiary of France’s Vicat is arranging imports of clinker in the meantime.

Vietnamese cement exports up by 0.9% to 8.55Mt in first quarter of 2019

25 April 2019

Vietnam: Data from the Building Materials Department of the Ministry of Construction show that cement exports rose by 0.9% year-on-year to 8.55Mt in the first quarter of 2019. They had a value of US$865m, according to data from the Viet Nam News newspaper.

Al Jouf Cement to convert line to white cement production

25 April 2019

Saudi Arabia: Al Jouf Cement has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with China’s Riga Company to convert its second production line to produce white cement. The agreement will last six months.

Lucky Cement orders power plant from Wärtsilä for Iraqi plant

25 April 2019

Iraq: Al Shumookh Lucky Investments, a subsidiary of Pakistan’s Lucky Cement, has ordered a power pant from Finland’s Wärtsilä for its Najmat Al-Samawa cement plant. The equipment is scheduled for delivery towards the end of 2019, and the plant is expected to become fully operational during the third quarter of 2020. No price for the order has been disclosed.

The power plant will operate on two Wärtsilä 32 engines running on locally-available heavy fuel oil (HFO) with diesel as a back-up fuel. The engine is designed to operate with reduced fuel and water consumption in hot climates.

RHI Magnesita raises prices by 5%

25 April 2019

UK: Refractory manufacturer RHI Magnesita has increased its prices for industrial and steel users by 5%. It says the rise is a consequence of the persistent increase in operating, raw materials, manufacturing, environmental and regulatory costs. The increase has been applied to the whole product range including basic (magnesia and dolomite based) and non-basic products, varying in a range of 3% to 20%. Customers have already started to be informed accordingly.

The company said that global scarcity of raw materials was still evident, mainly due to Chinese environmental regulations that have restricted mining and processing. Since 2017 there has been a ‘step’ change in refractory raw material production as China has implemented new environmental standards, which adjusted the level of production to global standards. Consequently, the refractory industry has been faced with supply shortages, leading to elevated raw material prices especially in higher grade dead burned and fused magnesia. This situation is expected to continue in 2019 although in the medium term prices are expected to fall below levels seen before 2017.

Fuchs opens new plant in Suzhou

25 April 2019

China: Germany’s Fuchs Petrolub has opened new plant in Wujiang, Suzhou. The Euro46m unit replaces a plant in Shanghai. Work on the plant started in 2017.

The new 80,000m² plant has a capacity of 100,000t/yr in phase one, almost double the capacity of the Shanghai plant. The automated high-bay warehouse has a capacity of 12,000 pallets. The production portfolio includes automotive oils, industrial oils, metalworking fluids, corrosion preventatives, rolling oils, coating materials and products for the forging industry. Expansion in phase two is at the development stage. Fuchs is also expanding its offices and laboratories at the site in Shanghai.

Clinker wars

24 April 2019

One of the long running trends in the cement industry is that of production overcapacity. Sure enough more than a few news stories this week covered this, as various players reacted to international trade in clinker and cement. The Bangladesh Cement Manufacturers Association wants its government to cut import duties on clinker. Algeria’s shift from an importing cement nation to an exporting one continues.

Armenia and Afghanistan are coping with influxes of cement imports from neighbouring Iran. Pakistan’s cement exporters, who have been losing ground in Afghanistan, are once again lobbying to remove anti-dumping measures in South Africa. The argument between Hard Rock Cement and Arawak Cement in Barbados may have swung Hard Rock Cement’s way as the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has ruled in favour of lower tariffs for imports. Last week it was reported that the Rwanda Bureau of Standards had blocked cement imports from Uganda on quality requirement grounds.

The summarised version is that all this excess clinker and cement can cause arguments and market distortions as it finds new markets. Typically, the media reports upon the negative side of this, when the representatives of national industries defend their patch and speak out about ‘quality concerns,’ potential job losses and blows to the local economy. However, it isn’t always like this as the Afghan story shows this week. Here, although the Chamber of Commerce and Industries wants to promote locally produced cement, imports are welcome and the relative merits of different sources are discussed. Ditto the situation in Bangladesh where a predominantly grinding-based industry naturally wants to cut its raw material costs.

We’ve covered clinker and cement exports more than a few times, most recently in September 2018 when the jaw-dropping scale of Vietnam’s exports in 2018 started to become clear. Yet as the continued flow of news stores this week makes clear it’s a topic that never grows old.

Graph 1: Top cement exporting countries in 2018. Source: International Trade Centre. 

Graph 1: Top cement exporting countries in 2018. Source: International Trade Centre.

Looking globally raises a number of issues. First, a warning. The data in Graph 1 comes from the International Trade Centre (ITC), a comprehensive source of trade statistics. Most of its figures are in line with data from government bodies and trade associations but its export figure is around a tenth of the estimated export figure for Iran of around 13Mt for its 2018 – 2019 year. Last time this column looked at exports similar issues were noted with a discrepancy between Vietnam’s exports from the ITC compared to government data.

Iran aside, all the usual suspects are present and correct. A point of interest here is that the list is a mixture of countries that make the headlines for their exports, like Vietnam, and those that are quietly just getting on with business. Japan for example exported 10.7Mt in 2018. More telling are the changes in exports from 2017 to 2018. Exports fell in Japan, China and Spain. They rose in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan and South Korea.

Looking globally, China is the elephant in the room in this topic given its apparent massive production overcapacity. The industry here is structurally unable to export cement on the scale of other countries but, as its major companies expand internationally, this may change. Despite this China still managed to be the third biggest exporter of cement to the US in 2018 at 2Mt and the fifth biggest in the world. Yet, as the ITC data shows, its exports fell by 30% year-on-year to 9Mt in 2018.

Vietnam, Pakistan and Turkey continue to be some of the key exporting nations with production capacities rising in defiance of domestic realities. Pakistan, for example, is coming off a building boom from the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor infrastructure project and all those plants are now looking for new markets. Vietnam says it is benefitting from industry consolidation in China. Its exports grew by 55% year-on-year rise to 31.6Mt. It shipped 9.8Mt to China in 2018. Its main export markets in 2019 are expected to be the Philippines, Bangladesh, China, Taiwan and Peru. Turkey, meanwhile, struggled with general economic issues in 2018. Its cement exports fell by 6% to 7.5Mt in 2018 according to Turkish Cement Manufacturers Association data. Once again this is at odds with ITC data, which reports nearly twice as many exports.

This touches the tip of the iceberg of a big issue but while production over-capacity continues these kinds of trade arguments will endure. Vietnam, for example, may be enjoying supplying cement in China as that country scales down production. Yet, what will happen to all of those Vietnamese plants once Chinese consumption stabilises?! Similar bear traps lie in wait for the other major exports. Alongside this many of the multinational cement companies are pivoting to concrete production. This may be in recognition of the fact that in a clinker-abundant world profits should be sought elsewhere in the supply chain. A topic for another week.

CRH first quarter sales up by 7%

24 April 2019

Ireland: CRH’s sales rose by 7% year-on-year for the first quarter of 2019. It said that sales volumes benefited from mild weather conditions, good momentum across most of its major markets and price rises.

Sales from its Americas Materials business grew by 4% although it noted falling cement and concrete volumes in its West US and Canada regions. It also said that its acquisition of Ash Grove Cement that was completed in mid-2018 had met its synergy delivery programme targets. Sales from its Europe Materials business increased by 12% due in part to better weather than the first quarter in 2017. By key markets the group reported strong sales volumes in Germany, Poland, Romania and the Philippines.

ACC’s sales rise by 8% to US$551m in first quarter of 2019

24 April 2019

India: ACC’s sales rose by 8% year-on-year to US$551m in the first quarter of 2019 from US$509m in the same period in 2018. Its sales volumes of cement grew by 6% to 7.5Mt from 7.1Mt. Ready-mix concrete (RMX) sales volumes grew by 19% to 0.94Mm3 from 0.79Mm3. Its operating earnings before interest, taxation, deprecation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 8% to US$76.1m from US$70.4m.

“Our three-pronged strategy of customised solutions for consumers, focus on premium products and operational improvements are enhancing our bottom-line and powering ACC’s strong growth trajectory,” said Neeraj Akhoury, managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) of the subsidiary of LafargeHolcim.

The company noted that fuel and slag prices rose in the quarter although this was compensated by market growth, cost reductions, fuel mix improvements and general production optimisation. It added that plant capacity utilisation improved during the reporting period. ACC also commission eight new RMX plants in the first quarter of 2019, bringing its total to 80.

Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua’s first quarter sales down on US market

24 April 2019

Mexico: Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua’s (GCC) sales fell in the first quarter of 2019 due to lower cement and concrete volumes in the US. Sales volumes rose in Mexico and the group described a ‘favourable pricing environment’ in both markets. Its net sales dropped by 1.9% year-on-year to US$163m from US$167m. Cement sales volumes fell by 7.3% in the US but they rose by 3.8% in Mexico. Earnings before interest, taxation, deprecation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell by 16% to US$38.3m from US$45.6m.

“The US operations slowed, with severe inclement weather continuing into the first quarter. However, there is a strong backlog and we are picking up the pace as the weather conditions improve,” said Enrique Escalante, GCC’s chief executive officer (CEO). He added that Chihuahua in Mexico continued to perform well driven by mining shipments, industrial maquiladora plants and warehouse construction and middle-income housing starts.

Bangladesh Cement Manufacturers Association calls for clinker import duties to be reduced

24 April 2019

Bangladesh: The Bangladesh Cement Manufacturers Association (BCMA) has asked for import tariffs on clinker to be reduced. In a letter to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) it requested that the duty be cut to either US$2.40/t or a fixed rate of 5%, according to the Dhaka Tribune newspaper. Importers pay around US$6.00/t at present. The BCMA argues that the cement industry is paying more than other industries for its imports.

The association has also called for value added tax (VAT) on raw materials to be cut to 5% from 15%, reducing advance income tax to 2.5% from 5% and exempting regulatory duties for fly ash and import duties for cement bulk carriers.

ASEC renews technical management contract with Misr Beni Suef Cement

24 April 2019

Egypt: ASEC Engineering has renewed its technical management contract with Misr Beni Suef Cement until the end of 2023. ASEC originally worked on the first production line at the plant in 2001. It maintenance contract was renewed in 2007 with the addition of a new production line. The cement plant has a production capacity of 3.1Mt/yr.

Algeria exports over 0.5Mt to Europe

24 April 2019

Algeria: The Algerian cement industry has exported over 0.5Mt of clinker to Europe as part of a shift to international markets. Samir Setiti, the president of Groupe des Ciments d’Algérie’s (GICA) Sodismac subsidiary, said that the company was currently transporting 15,000t of clinker from its Beni Safi plant to the Ivory Coast from the Port of Ghazaouet, according to the L’Expression newspaper. This is part of 15 export operations the cement producer has conducted since May 2018.

CIMAF Guinea to increase capacity of grinding plant

24 April 2019

Guinea: Mamady Touré, the adminstrative and finance director of Ciments de l’Afrique (CIMAF) Guinea, says that the company plans to triple the production of its Dubréka grinding plant to 1.5Mt/yr. The announcement was made as part of a lunch for customers, according to Guinée News.

Wagners expects US$7m hit from supply row with Boral

24 April 2019

Australia: Wagners expects that its on-going suspension of cement products to Boral will cost it around US$7m in 2019. The company decided to stop the supply following Boral’s notification that it had found a cheaper source in March 2019. Since neither Wagners nor Boral have been able to resolve the disagreement it has now been referred to the Supreme Court of Queensland.

Eurocement resumes packaging line at Oskolcement plant

24 April 2019

Russia: Eurocement has resumed the packaging line at its Oskolcement plant. It sells products in 50kg bags. The packaging line uses equipment from Germany’s Haver & Boecker and Beumer.

Cemex to contribute to reconstruction of Notre-Dame

24 April 2019

France: Cemex says that it will match the donations made by its employees to help restore the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The donations will be handled by the Fondation du patrimoine (French Heritage Foundation), a private organisation dedicated to saving French cultural and natural heritage. The 800-year old cathedral was devastated by fire on 15 April 2019.

In addition, Cemex will help the reconstruction efforts through its range of technical and specialised products and services, the availability of its research and development centres based in Biel and Paris and assistance with material specifications and mix designs through its laboratory services.

CCNN’s profit rises following merger with Kalambaina Cement

23 April 2019

Nigeria: The Cement Company of Northern Nigeria’s (CCNN) profit rose in 2018 following its merger with Kalambaina Cement. Its profit after tax grew by 77% year-on-year to US$15.9m in 2018 from US$8.9m in 2017, according to the Punch newspaper. It produced 0.76Mt of cement in 2018 and it sold 0.74Mt. The company is planning to expand its production distribution in north-east and north-central regions as it does not expect the north-west to absorb its enlarged production capacity of 2Mt/yr.

BUA Group orders power plant from Wärtsilä

23 April 2019

Nigeria: BUA Group has ordered a 48MW power plant from Finland’s Wärtsilä for a new production line at its Sokoto cement plant. The power plant will operate without connection to an electricity grid and it will operate on five Wärtsilä 34DF dual-fuel engines, running primarily on liquified natural gas (LNG) but with the capability to switch to low pour fuel oil (LPFO) if necessary. The site’s two existing power plants operate on heavy fuel oil (HFO).

The Wärtsilä equipment is scheduled for delivery at the end of 2019, and the new plant is expected to become operational in mid-2020. No price for the order has been disclosed.

Ebonyi state government backs Ebocem plant project

23 April 2019

Nigeria: David Umahi, the governor of Ebonyi state, has approved plans to set-up the Ebonyi Cement plant (Ebocem) at Ogboto in Ishielu. The local government will hold a 10% stake in the project, according to the Nigerian Tribune newspaper.

Armenian government considers tariffs for clinker imports

23 April 2019

Armenia: Tigran Khachatryan, the Minister of Economic Development and Investments, says that the government is considering adding clinker to a list of goods subject to import duties. A tariff of around Euro40/t could be introduced for a year until April 2020, according to the ARMINFO News Agency. This would be similar to proposed duties on imported cement.

The measures are intended to protect local cement production. Khachatryan noted that imports from Iran could be up to a third of the price of locally manufactured cement due to cheaper energy supplies and state subsidies.

Eagle Materials starts business portfolio review

23 April 2019

US: Eagle Materials are started a strategic review of its portfolio of businesses including heavy materials, light materials, and oil and gas proppants. It says it commissioned the review, “…following consultation and input from the company’s largest shareholders.” During the process it will consider options, including divesting businesses.

Lehigh Cement and Argos USA fined US$1.5m for air pollution at Martinsburg plant

23 April 2019

US: Lehigh Cement and Argos USA have agreed to pay a US$1.5m fine for alleged Clean Air Act violations at the Martinsburg cement plant in West Virginia. Argos has owned the plant since December 2016 and Lehigh Cement was the previous owner. The violations occurred from 2013 to 2016. Neither Lehigh Cement nor Argos USA admitted liability for the alleged violations as part of the settlement.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cited the companies for various Clean Air Act violations based on responses to EPA information requests and data collected and reported under the plant’s permit. These included exceeding particulate matter emissions, non-compliance with opacity testing, failing to comply with requirements for operating a kiln with dioxin/furan emission limits, failing to perform required stack testing on a kiln’s exhaust in a timely manner and other violations.

Caribbean Court of Justice rules in favour of Rock Hard Cement in import row

23 April 2019

Trinidad & Tobago: The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has ruled that Rock Hard Cement does not have to pay more than a 5% tariff on imported cement. The regional court was ruling on the duty liable for ‘other hydraulic cement,’ according to the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper. Rock Hard Cement’s competitor Trinidad Cement and its subsidiaries had argued that such imports be liable to a 60% import rate that the importer had previously paid due to Barbados’ exemption from the region’s Common External Tariff (CET) in 2001 and its subsequent re-entry in 2015.

Republic Cement launches Kapit-Balay masonry cement product

23 April 2019

Philippines: Republic Cement has launched Kapit-Balay Masonry Cement. The type S high-strength masonry cement product is intended for plastering, brick or block laying and block filling. The product is being produced at the company’s Danao plant in Debu.

Lafarge Mauritius launches dissolvable cement bag in conjunction with BillerudKorsnäs

23 April 2019

Mauritius: Lafarge Mauritius has launched Lakaz Mazik, a cement bag that dissolves in a concrete mixer. The bag has been developed by Sweden’s BillerudKorsnäs, according to the L’Express newspaper.

Illinois State University project awarded grant to research using recycled glass as a cement substitute in controlled low strength material

23 April 2019

US: Illinois State University has been awarded a US$15,000 grant by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to research the use of recycled glass as a substitute for Ordinary Portland Cement and fly ash in controlled low-strength material (CLSM). CLSM, also called flowable fill, is a cement-based construction material commonly used for backfilling trenches or other excavations, as well as soil-stabilisation. It can be produced at any ready-mix concrete plant by mixing cement, fly ash, sand and water in the correct proportions.

Project lead Pranshoo Solanki said that preliminary results are promising, and show that required flow and strength can be met by replacing cement and fly ash with recycled glass powder.

The EPA grant is for phase one of the recycled glass project for research at the laboratory scale. Funding for phase two will then be sought to test the product in real-world trials.

Cement board plant for Nigeria

22 April 2019

Nigeria: Sinoria FABCOM, a Chinese building materials and structural engineering firm, has announced plans to open a fibre cement board manufacturing factory in Abuja. The company, which is part of the Chinese global giant Sinoma, already has an industrial complex in Kuje Abuja, where it makes roofing products.

Liuxing Wang, Managing Director of Sinoria FABCOM, said that the new line of products would be the first of their kind to be manufactured in West Africa. He added that his company had decided to diversify into fibre cement board due to Nigeria’s raw materials and the success that it has already had with its stone-coated roofing sheets in the country.

Wang further commended the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari for creating the ‘right atmosphere for industrial growth’ of the country, noting that within the next decade Nigeria stands the chance of becoming an industrial giant.

Pakistani cement exporters in plea over South African anti-dumping duty

19 April 2019

Pakistan: Cement exporters based in Pakistan have urged the Ministry of Commerce to approach South African authorities with the aim of overturning the existing anti-dumping duty on Pakistani cement.
“Before anti-dumping duty, annual cement exports to South Africa were worth US$700m. Now it has gone down to US$100m,” said Mohammad Rafiq Memon, Chairman of the Pakistan-South Africa Business Forum (PSABF). He said that the forum was trying its best to get this issue resolved and that Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce should send a delegation to South Africa to convince the authorities to review the duty. He added that he was optimistic that South Africa would review the anti-dumping duty on cement imports and said that the situation was likely to improve by 2020.

He said that PSABF also has plans to establish a trade centre in South Africa by the end of December 2019, at which Pakistani manufacturers and exporters would be able to display samples of their products and services, along with relevant contact information. This would result in effectively promoting Pakistani products, not only in the South African market, but in other African states.

Aalborg Portland increases turnover in 2018

19 April 2019

Denmark: Aalborg Portland Cement increased its turnover by 5% to Euro1.19bn in 2018, from Euro1.14bn in 2017. It attributed the growth largely to acquisitions it made in recent years. It saw its sales drop slightly in Denmark but exports to nearby markets and to the US increased.

Aalborg Portland’s profit after tax increased to Euro140m in 2018 from Euro119m in 2017. Its profit margin increased to 12.8% from 12.6%.

LafargeHolcim proposes three new board members

18 April 2019

Switzerland: The Board of Directors of LafargeHolcim will propose that its shareholders approve the appointment of three new Members of the Board, after acknowledgement of the departure of two current Board members, at the Annual General Meeting on 15 May 2019.

The Board of Directors will nominate Colin Hall, Naina Lal Kidwai and Claudia Sender Ramirez for election as new Board Members. Nassef Sawiris and Gérard Lamarche have decided not to stand for re-election.

As the Head of Investments of Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, a major shareholder of LafargeHolcim, Colin Hall will add extensive experience in international finance to the Board. As one of India’s most successful businesswomen, Naina Lal Kidwai held a number of senior leadership positions at ANZ Grindleys Bank and HSBC in India and Asia Pacific. She has a particular interest in environmental topics. Claudia Sender Ramirez will bring to the Board her wide-ranging marketing and emerging market experience from leadership positions at LATAM Airlines Group and Whirlpool in Latin America.

Beat Hess, Chairman of the Board of Directors at LafargeHolcim, said, “On behalf of the entire Board I would like to thank Nassef Sawiris and Gérard Lamarche for their important contribution to the success of our company over the past years. I am very delighted that we are proposing three new members whose unique experience will complement the expertise of our existing Board members. It is a particular pleasure for me that with the new nominations we will be able to further increase the geographical and gender diversity of our Board.”

All other current members of the Board of Directors will be proposed for re-election at the Annual General Meeting: Beat Hess (Chairman), Oscar Fanjul (Vice-Chairman), Paul Desmarais, Jr., Patrick Kron, Adrian Loader, Jürg Oleas, Hanne Birgitte Breinbjerg Sørensen and Dieter Spälti.

Catalonian cement consumption falls again

18 April 2019

Spain: Cement consumption in Catalonia between February 2018 and February 2019 reached 1.76Mt, 4.7% less than a year earlier, according to regional association Ciment Català. The president of the organisation, Salvador Fernández Capo, stressed that this situation could be explained by economic uncertainty, rising electricity prices and a lack of construction projects in the region.

Sanctions drive Iranian cement into Afghanistan

18 April 2019

Iran/Afghanistan: Exports of cement from Iran to Afghanistan have increased following the resumption of US-led sanctions on Iran. Speaking on Afghanistan’s Tolo News TV, Janagha Navid, the spokesman of Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said that Afghanistan imports 80,000t/yr of cement, while stressing that the country’s domestic cement production capacity could increase to 420,000t/yr.

Navid added that cement imports from Pakistan had decreased, while imports from Iran had risen, due to depreciation of the Iranian Rial against foreign currencies. He further highlighted that Afghan customers prefer Iranian cement over Pakistani cement, citing quality considerations. In 2018, Iran exported US$127m-worth of cement to Afghanistan, broadly similar to imports from Pakistan, which came to US$132m.