Peru’s been the place over the last week with news reports of new production capacity and its targeting as a key export market by Vietnam.
Local press reported this week that three new cement grinding plants are planned to start production in 2019. Cemento Inka plans to build a 0.6Mt/yr grinding plant at Ica near Pisco. It also plans to upgrade the kilns at its plant at Cajamarquilla near Lima. Then Mixercon, a ready-mix concrete firm, wants to spend US$20m towards building two new plants in northern Lima, also in 2019. It also has plans to open distribution centres around the capital too.
For a local industry generally dominated by local often family-controlled producers this is quite a change. The larger companies – Pacasmayo, UNACEM and Yura – normally dominate the headlines and the market here. Unsurprisingly then that Pacasmayo and Yura also have upgrades planned for their plants in 2019 too.
Changes to capacity started in late May 2018 when Salaverry-based importer Invecem was said to be buying equipment for a 0.25Mt/yr grinding plant. Then things really started moving when Unacem bought Cementos Portland (Cempor), a joint venture between Chile's Cementos Bío Bío and Brazil’s Votorantim Cimentos. The foreign companies were planning to build a plant near Lima but the project was delayed by a legal battle over environmental issues intitiated by Unacem. This was followed by Cal & Cemento Sur (Calcesur), a subsidiary of Grupo Gloria, announcing that it was going to add a new production line to its cement and lime plant in Puno.
With this level of interest in grinding plants going on it’s unsurprising that Vietnam, a major exporter of cement, has taken an interest. Imports of cement to Peru rose by 65% year-on-year to 0.94Mt in the 12 months from December 2017 to November 2018 from 0.57Mt in the same period previously. Imports of clinker rose by 37% to 0.78Mt from 0.57Mt. This compares to a rise of 21% to 0.61Mt in cement imports in 2017 and a fall of 1.2% to 0.51Mt in 2016. In the 12 months to the end of November 2018 most of that imported cement (81%) came from Vietnam followed by 14% from China and 3% from Mexico. Clinker imports have been more varied with 39% from South Korea, 31% from Vietnam, 19% from Ecuador and 11% from Japan. The general situation for the clinker producers has been a slight increase in cement production to 10Mt for the 12 months to the end of November 2018 and slightly higher increases in despatches.
So, it looks like an apparent cement demand is up in Peru and the importers are rushing to meeting demand. The question, then, is why haven’t the clinker producers announced projects to squeeze out the grinders? As mentioned above Pacasmayo and Yura have upgrades planned but nothing really large seems to be coming yet. Also, given the tough time Cempor was given by the local companies what kind of opposition are the new projects by Cemento Inka, Mixercon and Invecem likely to face? The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate is below the glory days of the 2000s when it topped 6% but it is still one of the strongest in South America with 3.8% forecast for 2019 by the World Bank. This is the country in the region to watch in 2019.