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Layoffs possible at Lafarge Zambia
Zambia: Lafarge Zambia is considering laying off some 30% of its workforce of 670 employees, according to a memo circulated by a group of unionised workers. The company, which owns cement plants in Ndola and Lusaka, has allegedly not yet paid its unionised workers a promised salary increase, according to local reports. Instead of increasing these wages, Lafarge Zambia s CEO Emmanuel Rigaux announced the layoffs.

"We are appealing to the government to intervene on our behalf so that we are paid our salary increment and also to find out why they are pruning staff," said employees of Lafarge Zambia. The workers also allege mistreatment by management and say that Lafarge sold most of its shares to Holcim because it is "scared" of competing with Dangote.

"The CEO takes advantage of the greediness and selfishness of our own Zambian managers to exploit us," said the employees. "Most Zambian managers are destroying their fellow citizens by protecting the greediness of these foreign investors. The management make billions but they treat the employees poorly."

According to a sales report from Lafarge dated 12 August 2014, Rigaux said, "The recent trend in our costs though is not favourable, partly as a result of negative currency impact. We must take action to contain our costs and ensure the sustainability of our business, including the review of our headcount. As we are entering the active phase of our capacity expansion projects both in Ndola and Chilanga and new competition is emerging, we must be fully mobilised to better serve our customers and maintain our undisputed leadership, including our cost leadership."

GlobalCement - Aug, 20 ,2014

Ash Grove Cement Company appoints Randy Vance as President and COO
Ash Grove Cement Company has announced the promotion of J. Randall (Randy) Vance to President and COO, effective immediately. Mr Vance is promoted from his position of three years as Senior Vice President of Administration and CFO. In his new role, he will assume responsibility for manufacturing and sales of Ash Grove’s cement operations and will continue to lead the finance, accounting, risk management, information technology and HR departments.

Mr Vance, who joined Ash Grove from Interstate Bakeries Corporation, said: “It is a privilege to be selected to lead such a talented and dedicated team. Our focus on safety, quality and customer service is exceptional in the cement industry. I am eager to continue to grow our business as a supplier of choice.”

"Since joining Ash Grove, Randy has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills that fit well in the Ash Grove culture,” said Charles T. Sunderland, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. “Randy brings a breadth of business experience to Ash Grove, which gives us confidence that he will be a catalyst in guiding the company’s performance.” Sunderland will continue in his present role. The company has launched a search for a new CFO.
UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 19 ,2014

Nigeria set to end cement imports in 2017
With a national production capacity at over 28Mt/yr, which far outstrips national demand of 20Mt/yr, Nigeria looks set to effectively end cement imports by 2017, according to UniCem s managing director, Olivier Lenoir. This is coming on the back of on-going strong national production capacity expansion by virtually all of the major cement producers operating in the country. By 2016, Dangote Cement will have increased its production to 50Mt/yr, Lafarge 15Mt/yr and UniCem to 5Mt/yr.
UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 19 ,2014

Orient Cement eyes acquisition to triple capacity by 2020
Mumbai: Orient Cement Ltd, a C.K. Birla group company, is in talks with cement companies for acquiring a manufacturing plant as part of a plan to triple capacity by 2020, a top executive said.

“We are in strategic discussions with three players for acquiring a cement plant with a capacity of up to 2 million tonnes per annum (mtpa),” said Deepak Khetrapal, managing director and chief executive officer. However, he declined to name the companies.

The firm is looking for a plant primarily in Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, he added.

The acquisition will aid Orient Cement s strategy to increase its capacity of 5 mtpa to 15 mtpa by 2020. The plan also involves setting up greenfield facilities and expanding existing ones. It has set up a 3-mtpa greenfield facility at Gulbarga, Karnataka, which will become operational by the first quarter of the next fiscal.

The firm also plans to open another greenfield project in the next five years, Khetrapal said.

The acquisition plans come at a time of increasing consolidation in the cement industry. In September, UltraTech Cement Ltd acquired the Gujarat cement plant of the Jaypee Group in one of the biggest deals in the sector. In March, Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd bought Jaiprakash Associates Ltd s stake in a cement joint venture in Jharkand.

In some regions, limited raw material resources like limestone reserves means acquisitions become the only way for a company to access them, experts said.

“Madhya Pradesh is a good cluster and has proximity to limestone reserves, which are key for manufacturers, and that is basically pushing firms to acquire plants in the area,” said Nitin Bhasin, head-research, Ambit Capital, a financial services firm.

Orient Cement has outlined a capital expenditure of around Rs.2,700 crore for this expansion, to be funded through internal accruals and debt. The company can borrow around Rs.1,200 crore, which will keep its debt-to-equity ratio at 1:1, Khetrapal said.

As of 31 March, the company had a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.39 times, according to data from Bloomberg. As of 30 June, its total debt stood at Rs.3,276.5 crore.

At present, the company operates in three regions of Maharashtra—Khandesh, Vidarbha, Marathwada—and Telangana. The expansion will give Orient Cement access to markets in Karnataka and central India.

According to Religare Research, the expansion will help push the firm s volume growth.

“With the demand cycle set to recover in the second half of 2015, Orient Cement s planned 3 mt expansion in Karnataka would boost volumes—particularly with the Andhra Pradesh government likely driving allocation for infrastructure projects in the southern region,” analysts Mihir Jhaveri and Prateek Kumar wrote in a 7 August report.

“Orient Cement is one of the most efficient mid-cap firms and will be a key beneficiary of an improvement in operating conditions in the South,” the report said. To be sure, other cement makers, too, have drawn up expansion plans to meet an anticipated increase in demand.

According to an April report by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), a lobby group, and consulting firm AT Kearney, India s cement demand is expected to reach 550-600 mtpa by 2025, mainly as a result of infrastructure and housing needs.

JK Lakshmi Cement Ltd, with a current capacity of 6.6 mtpa, plans to expand it to 12 mtpa by the end of fiscal 2016, Shailendra Chouksey, whole-time director, said. This expansion includes both brownfield and greenfield projects. Ambuja Cements Ltd has also announced a capacity addition of 4.50 mtpa, which includes both brownfield and greenfield projects. The greenfield projects will be set up in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, and the total expansion cost is estimated at Rs.3500 crore, the company said
UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 16 ,2014

Sephaku Cement set to begin clinker production in Aganang
Sephaku Cement (Pty) Ltd (SepCem) has completed commissioning of its clinker facility in Aganang, and it is now set to begin production. The original start date was scheduled for the end of July 2014, but this was delayed slightly due to a minor problem with the plant fan system during hot commissioning.

Aganang is SepCem s flagship plant. It is located in Litchenburg, in the North West Province of South Africa, and has a cement production capacity of around 1.1 million tpa. The clinker produced at the facility will be utilised at the Delmas milling plant, with the first delivery scheduled for the end of August 2014. The 1.4 million tpa Delmas plant has been using purchased clinker to date. This has allowed it to reach a 60% production capacity utilisation rate and to establish itself in the bagged and bulk cement markets.

Sephaku Holding Ltd (SepHold) plans to increase the capacity of both plants on the basis of market demand.

“The production of its own clinker is an important step for SepCem, enabling it to become a fully integrated producer of cement. We are confident that it will soon become a strong and profitable competitor in the local market,” said Dr Lelau Mohuba, Chief Executive Officer.

UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 16 ,2014

Iran produces more than 25 million t of clinker from March - July
According to reports, Iran produced more than 23.8 million tonnes of cement in the period 21 March – 22 July, i.e. the first four months of the year according to the Iranian calendar. More than 25.46 million t of clinker were produced in the same period.

The Tehran Times reports that the country s annual cement production is around 80 million t, of which 50 million t is sold in the domestic market. Last year, exports totalled 18 million t, being distributed to 24 countries including neighbouring Afghanistan and, further afield, China.

Iran has further plans for expansion, reportedly targeting 85 million t of cement production capacity by the end of the current calendar year. This would move it firmly into the number three spot, behind China and India, though with the US cement industry back on the move, it may be an ongoing battle for third place. The USGS Mineral Industry Surveys report shows total cement shipments of 82 million t in 2013; clinker production for the year was 69.9 million t.

UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 14 ,2014

Atlas Copco cements its position with Oman s OCC
Oman Cement Company (OCC) and Atlas Copco have released details of how their long-standing strategic relationship helps to maintain the self-reliant nature of the sultanate s cement industry.

OCC employs an array of Atlas Copco equipment to supply air for its plant and instruments, and to aerate its cement silos.

Today, the Omani cement manufacturer uses 16 Atlas Copco GA 160 oil-injected screw compressors; two ZA 6 single-stage, oil-free screw compressors; and a number of ZS 30 rotary screw blowers.

“In order to meet our quality commitment, we need committed business partners who are geared to deliver the highest performance and 24/7 support,” commented Ziad Al Siyabi, maintenance manager at OCC.

“Atlas Copco, over the years, has been able to deliver this through its huge compressed air equipment product portfolio and high-quality service support through its distributor, Bin Salim Enterprises. [This] makes them an automatic choice for our compressed air requirements,” he added.

Since its establishment in 1983, OCC has formed an important part of Oman s drive for self-reliance within its core industries.

In order to maintain this situation, the company requires equipment that is both reliable and efficient.

To this end, OCC has installed the GA 160 units at key locations across its plant. The compressors are able to operate continuously in the toughest conditions and at ambient temperatures of up to 55°C.

With screw technology, stainless steel coolers, and AGMA A4/DIN 5 gears, the ZA 6 units have also proven adept at operating in OCC s dusty cement plant.

Moreover, OCC s ZS 30 blowers, which are used for aeration applications inside the plant s silos, have been shown to reduce energy costs by an average of 30%, compared to conventional methods.

OCC has even constructed a dedicated compressor room with dual-filtration screeds to combat the problem of dust; a measure that has helped to increase reliability and reduce maintenance and energy costs, according to Al Siyabi and his colleagues.

Commenting on the partnership, Tony Van Herbruggen, Atlas Copco s country manager for Oman, said: “With the success obtained so far at OCC, the Atlas Copco oil-free air team is quite confident about supporting OCC and meeting its high expectations with new, innovative solutions that deliver reliability and energy efficiency.”
UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 14 ,2014

Claudius Peters wins silo order from Semen Gresik
In July, Claudius Peters Projects won a contract to supply three storage silos to Semen Gresik’s integrated cement plant in Rembang, Central Java, Indonesia.

The scope of supply includes three cement storage silos type EC with Expansion Chamber. Each silo has a diameter of 24 m and the capacity to store 20 000 t of cement, which will then discharge to two mobile bulk loading stations type VME beneath each silo. Also included in the order is separate aeroslide transit to the packing plant. The silos will be integrated with the four packing plants ordered from Claudius Peters at the beginning of the year.

Semen Gresik is part of Semen Indonesia and was founded in 1957. Semen Indonesia, with production capacity of more than 30 million tonnes, is the largest cement producer in Indonesia with a market share greater than 40%.
UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 11 ,2014

Lower exports to Afghanistan pulled down Pakistan cement export figures for July
Reports in the local press have highlighted the latest cement statistics released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association. In July 2014, cement dispatches totalled 2.23 million t, down 14.12% y/y on July 2013’s 2.6 million t. Domestic sales fell by 6.52% y/y from 1.85 million t to 1.73 million t.

Cement exports also declined, dropping from 749 000 t in July 2013 to 503 000 t in the same month of this year. The decrease has largely been attributed to a contraction in the volume of exports to Afghanistan, which fell from 441 812 t to 183 927 t. Export competition from other countries in the region, such aw Iraq, was also listed as a factor.
UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 11 ,2014

A slow July in Indonesia, but activity should pick up
Indonesia Investments reports that cement sales dropped 25% in July to 3.7 million t, due in part to religious holidays and the presidential election, as well as declining economic growth. This led to a slowdown in cement distribution, particularly as truck transport was affected by the holidays.

The decline in July is thought to be just temporary; demand for the rest of the year is expected to be strong, given the government emphasis on infrastructure spending. The Indonesian Cement Association is predicting growth in the range of 4 – 5% for the year.

The Indonesia Investments report cites one analyst as predicting peak cement sales in 2017 of 95 – 97 million t. Current capacity stands at approximately 68 million tpa, so considerable investment in new capacity would be required. Already, companies such as Semen Indonesia and Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa are investing in new capacity in anticipation of demand growth.

The Jakarta Post reports that Indocement is planning to invest in two greenfield plants, in North Sumatra and Central Java, respectively. Each plant is scheduled to have a capacity of 2.5 million tpa and would begin production in 2018. The total investment per plant would be US$100 – US$150 million, funded from the company’s own cash. Last year the company started work on a brownfield plant with capacity of 4.4 million tpa of cement, which is due to begin operations in 4Q15. Indocement spent only 20% of its total anticipated capital expenditure (capex) in 1H14, according to another article in the Jakarta Post.

UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 11 ,2014

Tanzania: Authorities investigate reintroduction of 35 per cent cement import tax
According to press reports in Tanzania the Ministry of Industry and Trade are conducting a feasibility study to assess the possibility of reintroducing the 35 per cent tax on imported cements.

In a phone interview with local press at the weekend, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Uledi Mussa said the study has come after cement manufacturers urged the government to reverse the tax so as to create fair competition between domestically produced cement and foreign imports. He said in order to ensure fair competition; the findings obtained will be presented to the government for further implementation.

According to him, the government will work on the proposal to oversee if the proposals will bring about fair competition and have delicate balance to both manufacturers and buyers.

He, however, admitted that currently the price of cement in the country is still high due to production cost especially the cost for electricity, adding that it is not a reliable source of energy.

“The government is finding ways to ensure that electricity is available at affordable prices. It’s our hope that the installation of gas pipe to Kinyerezi power plant by December this year will help to reduce production cost of cement,” he said.

He also pointed out that the entry of Dangote into the market will to increase competition and lead to a reduction in prices.

He said the reason why the saying ‘sensitive products” was removed in 2008 was because of cement shortages occasioned by the construction of stadiums for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Mussa further said as a result, import duty was reduced to 25 per cent from 40 per cent and has remained so to date.

Local producers claimed that the cement import tariff reduction has made cheap cement from China, India and Pakistan flood the market, with market insiders saying cement from those countries sold at 50 per cent to 60 per cent below the domestic market price.

Seconding the argument, the Standing Permanent Committee Chairman of Industry and Trade, Luaga Mpina said if the 35 per cent levy is re-introduced, it will help check imported cement and boost local production and at the same time level the playing field for foreign and domestic companies.

  Mpina said the government should reverse the tax in order to protect the local industry regardless of other East African countries’ decisions.

Recently, the East African ministers jointly decided to remove cement from the list of “sensitive products”, meaning partner states would continue paying an import duty of 25 per cent on Portland cement and promised low consumer prices.

The East African Community (EAC) had a sensitive list of products covered by the EAC Customs Union Protocol, which exposed cement to a 55 per cent tariff to be reduced by 5 per cent a year from 2005.

While the 25 per cent tariff may seem best to the bloc currently, the ministers are expected to address the tariff issue once its overall effect on the market is observed.

“We had hoped the import duty would be increased to at least 35 per cent so that we’re cushioned from the imports,” said Narendra Raval, chairman of Devki Group.

Raval, whose company produces the National Cement brand, noted that local cement producers expected to be promoted before cheap imports were allowed into the market.

UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 06 ,2014

Saudi cement firms profits down 2.7% to SR1.77bn in Q2
Profits of listed cement firms dropped by 2.7 percent to SR1.77 billion in the second quarter of the current year compared to SR 1.82 billion in the same period last year, according to a financial report.

Meanwhile, the first-half net profits of the listed companies dropped by 6 percent to SR 3.40 billion compared with SR3.64 billion in the corresponding period last year, the report, filed by Al-Riyadh daily, said.

As regards sales, the cement companies realized sales worth SR3.66 billion in Q2 (2014) while the sales costs stood at SR1.72 billion to bring the revenues to nearly SR1.94 billion, or 53 percent of the overall quarterly sales, the report said.

On the other hand, the Saudi cement companies posted operational profits of SR1.79 billion, or 49 percent of quarterly sales.

However, after deduction of operational costs and zakat provisions, the companies realized net profits of SR1.77 billion, or 48 percent of quarterly sales, the report said.

Based on the available data, sales costs of the listed companies represented 47 percent of their sales.

Qasim Cement Co. (QCC) registered the least sales cost rate at 37 percent whereas the Northern Border Cement Co. (NBCC) posted the highest rate at 64 percent.

This has a direct impact on the companies’ revenues where they realized marginal revenuers of 53 percent of their sales where QCC had the highest rate of revenues of 63 percent while the NBCC had the lowest rate of revenues at 36 percent, the report said.

The operational income of the listed cement companies stood at 49 percent of their sales in the second quarter and, once again, QCC realized the highest rate of operational income at 61 percent of sales whereas Jouf Cement Co. (JCC) registered the least rate at 27 percent, according to the report.

Earning per share (EPS) of the listed companies averaged SR0.96 in the second quarter and whereas the Southern Region Cement Co. (SRCC) registered the highest rate at SR1.10 per share, JCC posted the least rate at SR 0.12 per share, the report said.

UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 06 ,2014

Cherat Cement Company reportedly set to expand capacity
Cherat Cement Company is reportedly investing Rs.12 billion in a new production line at its Nowshera cement plant, according to a report in Pakistan’s The News. The new cement plant will have a capacity of more than 1.3 million tpa and will take 30 months to build.

The newspaper cites Abid A. Vazir, executive director of the company, as saying that the expansion project is being undertaken in order to meet the expected increase in local demand for cement. The government is spending on infrastructure projects including highways, hydropower and housing. A potential improvement in the political situation in Afghanistan would also create increased demand, which the company is suitably located to meet.

Tianjin Cement Industry Design and Research Institute has reportedly been contracted to build the plant
UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 04 ,2014

Zambia: Lafarge announce expansion programme
Lafarge Cement Zambia plans to double its cement production capacity from its two local factories, to meet the growing demand, chief executive officer Emmanuel Rigaux has said.

Mr Rigaux said in 2013, the domestic market for cement grew by 17 per cent when compared to 2012, largely driven by the continued increase in government infrastructure projects, mining expansion activities and to a smaller extent by individual home building projects.

He said in the company s annual report that the absolute priority this year is to improve the level of customer service through innovation, refocus of sales and customer departments and logistical breakthrough solutions.

“Lafarge Zambia is planning to double its capacity in Ndola and Chilanga through debottlenecking and construction of a newline. This will enable us to remain the market leader and preferred supplier of construction solutions in Zambia,” he said.

Mr Rigaux said in 2013, production volumes improved by 105,000 tonnes, to 1,175,000 tonnes from 1,074,000 tonnes in 2012, representing a growth rate of nine per cent.

He said the volumes continued to improve, supported by the strong growth in the construction industry in domestic and export markets.

Mr Rigaux said domestic sales volumes grew by 18 per cent compared to prior year driven by strong cement demand, while export sales volumes declined by 25 per cent over the prior year due to increased focus on the domestic market.

“The second half of the year saw a sharp improvement in operational and industrial results both at our Ndola and Chilanga plants. Lafarge Zambia also implemented targeted cost reductions and logistical optimisations which enabled us to improve our operating margins,” he said.

Mr Rigaux said the financial position and cash flow of the company remained solid with strong cash position and no external debt.

UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 02 ,2014

Kenya: Savannah Cement targets road building market
Savannah Cement is targeting the road construction sector, as it brings to the market a specially developed product.

The company has begun manufacturing Hydraulic Road Binder (HRB) cement, a product blend that is used to stabilise road surfaces. Savannah on Wednesday said in a statement that it had done so at the behest of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.

The product will be used in place of other cement and lime varieties. Combined with soil and water, it will produce a material that will then be used as the foundation for paved roads.

The product has received Kenya Bureau of Standards certification and is being tested by the Transport ministry.

“The new Savannah Cement HRB product, which will retail at a lower rate than conventional cement, is expected to contribute up to 30 per cent approximate cost savings on the Sh25 billion national road construction budget,” managing director Ronald Ndegwa said.

UAECEMENT.COM - Aug, 02 ,2014

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Arab Union for Cement and Building Materials
 The Nineteenth Arab International Cement Conference and Exhibition 
 11-13th November 2014, Le Centre International de Conférences de la Palmeraie, Marrakech, Morocco
 16th Asia CemenTrade
 9th Middle East CemenTrade


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