Displaying items by tag: HeidelbergCement
UK: Fairport Engineering has reported work on its replacement of two electrostatic (ESP) filters at Hanson’s Ketton cement plant in Rutland. Following discussion in early 2016 Fairport was contracted to replace ESP filters at the plants Mills 9 and 10. Both mills were shut down for planned three-week periods each to remove the old filters and install the new ones. The new system on Mill 9 also required the installation of new screw conveyors, rotary airlocks and the reconfiguration of existing control panels, plus the installation of new 160KW central exhaust fans and associated clean gas ducting. Fairport reports that, to date, the daily averages on both filters are well below the target emission level.
Germany: HeidelbergCement’s sale revenue, volumes and profits have all been boosted by its acquisition of Italcementi in 2016. Preliminary figures for the group show that its revenue rose by 13% year-on-year to Euro15.2bn in 2016 from Euro13.5bn in 2015. Its cement sales volumes rose by 28% to 104Mt from 81.1Mt and its operating income rose by 7% to Euro2bn from Euro1.85bn. The group said that 2016 had been its best year since the financial crisis in 2008. However, on a pro-forma basis, taking into account the contributions of Italcementi in 2015 and 2016, the group’s sales revenue fell slightly and cement sales volumes and operating income rose far less steeply.
“The year 2016 was an important milestone for HeidelbergCement,” said Bernd Scheifele, chairman of the managing board. “With the acquisition of Italcementi, we made a big leap in growth and achieved the best operating income since the financial crisis. The integration of Italcementi is well under way and offers significant earnings potential resulting from the implementation of identified synergies.”
By region, HeidelbergCement’s Western and Southern Europe division reported rising sales volumes of cement but falling revenue and operating income. Improving markets in Germany and the UK were offset by weak demand in Italy, France and Spain and the falling value of the British Pound versus the Euro. By contrast revenue, cement volumes and operating income were all up in the Northern and Eastern Europe-Central Asia area with a particular emphasis in Norway. Notably, demand growth was also reported in Russia driven by markets in Moscow and St Petersburg. In North America financial figures rose in 2016 but revenue fell in the last quarter of the year. Strong sales were recorded in the north and south of the US but a drop in sale volumes was noted in the Canadian Prairie provinces due to falling oil production. In the group’s Asia area sales volumes rose but revenue and operating income fell in 2016 due to a ‘significant’ fall in prices in Indonesia and Thailand. Finally, in the Africa-Eastern Mediterranean Basin the market picture was mixed with small increases in sales volumes, a drop in sales revenue and a slight increase in operating income due to increased market competition in Sub-Saharan countries.
Last week’s Global CemFuels Conference in Barcelona raised a considerable amount of information about the state of the alternative fuels market for the cement industry and recent technical advances. One particular facet that stuck out were reports from cement and waste producers, from their perspective, about Morocco’s decision to ban imports of waste from Italy in mid-2016. The debacle raises prickly questions about how decisive attempts to reduce carbon emissions can be.
Public outcry broke out in Morocco in July 2016 over imports of refuse derived fuel (RDF) imported from Italy for use at a cement plant in the country. At the time a ship carrying 2500t of RDF was stopped at the Jorf Lasfar port. Local media and activists presented the shipment in terms of a dangerous waste, ‘too toxic’ for a European country, which was being dumped on a developing one. Public outcry followed and despite attempts to calm the situation the government soon banned imports of ‘waste’.
What wasn’t much reported at the time was that RDF usage rates in Europe have been rising in recent years and that the product is viewed as a commodity. As Michele Graffigna from HeidelbergCement explained at the conference in his presentation, its subsidiary Italcementi runs seven cement plants in Italy but only two of them have the permits to use alternative fuels like RDF. Italy also has amongst the lowest rates of alternative fuels usage in Europe, in part due to issues with legislation. This is changing slowly but the company has an export strategy for waste fuels from the country at the moment. Italy’s largest cement producer wants to use waste fuels in Italy but it can’t fully, so it is exporting them so it (and others) is exporting them to countries where it can.
In the Waste Hierarchy, using waste as energy fits in the ‘other recovery’ section near the bottom of the inverted pyramid, but it is still preferable to disposal. Waste fuels may be smelly, unsightly and have other concerns but they are a better environmental option than burning fossil fuels. HeidelbergCement engaged locally with media and local authorities to try and convey this. It also arranged visits to RDF production sites in Italy and German cement plant that use RDF to present its message. Looking to the future, HeidelbergCement now plans to focus on local waste production in Morocco with projects for a tyre shredder at a cement plant and an RDF production site at a Marrakesh landfill site in the pipeline. Graffigna didn’t say so directly, but the decision to focus on local waste supplies clearly dispenses with historical and cultural baggage of moving ‘dirty’ products between countries.
In another talk, at the conference Andy Hill of Suez then mentioned the Morocco situation from his company’s angle. His point was that moving waste fuels around can carry risks and that a waste management company, like Suez, knows how to handle them. It is worth pointing out here that Suez UK has supplied solid recovered fuel (SRF) to the country so it has a commercial interest here. He also suggested that despatching a bulk vessel of waste to a sensitive market did not help the situation and that it heightened negative publicity.
Morocco’s decision to ban the import of waste fuels in mid-2016 is an unfortunate speed bump along the highway to a more sustainable cement industry. It raises all sorts of issues about public perceptions of environmental efforts to clean up the cement industry and where they clash with commercially minded attempts to do so by the cement producers. A similar battle is playing out in Ireland between locals in Limerick and Irish Cement, as it tries to start burning tyres and RDF. These are not new issues. Meanwhile in the background the amendment to the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme draws close with a vote set for mid-February 2017. It could have implications for all of this depending on what happens. More on this later in the month.
UK: Greenbank has supplied a GWF feeder system to Hanson Cement’s Padeswood plant in Flintshire. The system is designed to feed raw materials into the processing plant at a predetermined rate. The upgrade is part of a recent series of expansions.
“The constant and reliable feed rate of the GWF feeder is achieved by having a shear gate to set a constant material bed depth for the given particle size combined with an inverter drive to control the feeder belt speed,” said Rod Molyneux, Product Sales Engineer at Greenbank.
Greenbank Group has previously supplied the plant with wear-resistant pipework and a pipe system for a new shredded refuse fuel line into a processing kiln.
Georgia: HeidelbergCement Caucasus (HCC) and the Georgian Building Group (GBG), a subsidiary of Kavkaz Cement, have formed the Georgian Cement Association. The association intends to focus on the quality of cement sold in the country and to create a publicly-recognisable seal of quality.
Domestically produced cement will be sampled in blind tests from product purchased from the open market. Testing shall be conducted primarily by an independent and neutral laboratory, such as the Georgian Technical University, and reconfirmed by parallel testing. Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce and industry of Georgia will supervise the process. The goal of the association is to create a respected and well-recognised ‘Good Quality Seal’ that only members will be able to use on packaging and in advertising.
Other aims of the association include working with the government and appropriate official bodies to tackle industry relevant issues and to promote the industry generally through the creation of jobs and economic growth.
UK: Hanson is spending Euro29m on upgrades at its Ribblesdale cement plant in a seven-year project to improve production efficiency and emissions. In the first six months nearly Euro13m will be spent on improvements and maintenance to enable the plant to meet new dust emission regulations. This is the biggest investment programme at the site since the 1990s and includes a Euro2m replacement of the filters on two cement mills.
“The permitted dust level is being reduced by 66% in April 2017, from 30mg/m2 to 10 - the new equipment will perform better than this,” said plant manager Terry Reynolds. He added that the filters will run well below the new maximum dust emission levels after the installation
The plant will spend Euro7.5m, its largest investment, towards replacing its wet gas scrubber in March 2017. In addition, 75m of ducts have been replaced at a cost of Euro440,000 during a shutdown in January 2017 as part of a five-year improvement plan for the site’s exhaust gas handling system.
Ribblesdale employs 116 people and is supplied by two on-site quarries worked by an 11-person team and a team of contractors managing the loading and hauling of quarry materials. The cement plant has produced cement for projects including the Manchester International Airport, Heysham nuclear power station, Manchester United football stadium, Liverpool’s Roman Catholic cathedral and also now for Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.
Georgia: Gebr Pfeiffer has received an order to supply a mill for HeidelbergCement Group’s Kaspi plant. The vertical roller mill will be used in a new 3000t/day kiln line at the site. The order was placed through the China’s Sinoma Chengdu in November 2016.
The type MPS 4000 B mill, equipped with a SLS 3750 B type classifier, has been designed for a capacity of 270t/hr of raw meal. The mill will be delivered with an enlarged housing to allow the raw material with a moisture of up to 10% to be dried almost exclusively with the available preheater gases.
Commissioning of the plant is scheduled for 2018.
HeidelbergCement buys Italcementi
Undeniably the big story of the year, HeidelbergCement has gradually acquired Italcementi throughout 2016. Notably, unlike the merger of Lafarge and Holcim, the cement producer has not held a party to mark the occasion. Instead each major step of the process has been reported upon incrementally in press releases and other sources throughout the year. The enlarged HeidelbergCement appears to be in a better market position than LafargeHolcim but it will be watched carefully in 2017 for signs of weakness.
LafargeHolcim faces accusations over conduct in Syria
The general theme for LafargeHolcim in 2016 has been one of divestments to shore up its balance sheet. However, one news story could potentially sum up its decline for the wider public. In June 2016 French newspaper Le Monde alleged that Lafarge had struck deals with armed groups in Syria, including so-called Islamic State (IS), to protect its assets in 2013 and 2014. LafargeHolcim didn’t deny the claims directly in June. Then in response to a legal challenge on the issue mounted in November 2016 its language tightened to statements condoning terrorism whilst still allowing some wriggle room. As almost all of the international groups in Syria are opposed to IS, should these allegations prove to be true it will not look good for the world’s largest cement producer.
China and India balance sector restructuring with production growth
Both China and India seem to have turned a corner in 2016 with growing cement production and a generally more upbeat feeling for the industries. Both have also seen some high profile consolidations or mergers underway which will hopefully cut inefficiencies. China’s focus on its ‘One Belt, One Road’ appears to be delivering foreign contracts as CBMI’s recent flurry of orders in Africa attests although Sinoma’s equipment arm was losing money in the first half of 2016. Meanwhile, India may have damaged its own growth in the short term through its demonetisation policy to take high value Indian rupee currency notes out of circulation. In November 2016 cement demand was believed to have dropped by up to half as the real estate sector struggled to adapt. The pain is anticipated to carry on until the end of March 2017.
US industry growth stuck in the slow lane
The US cement industry has failed to take off yet again in 2016 with growth lagging below 5%. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has reported that clinker production has risen by 1% in the first ten months of 2016 and that it fell in the third quarter of the year. In response, the Portland Cement Association (PCA) lowered its forecasts for both 2016 and 2017. One unknown here has been the election of President-elect Donald Trump and the uncertainty over what his policies might bring. If he ‘goes large,’ as he said he wants to, on infrastructure then the cement industry will benefit. Yet, knock-on effects from other potential policies like restricting migrant labour might have unpredictable consequences upon the general construction industry.
African expansion follows the money
International cement producers have prospered at the expense of local ones in 2016. The big shock this year was when Nigeria’s Dangote announced that it was scaling back its expansion plans in response to problems in Nigeria principally with the devaluation of the Naira. Since then it has also faced local problems in Ghana, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Its sub-Saharan competitor PPC has also had problems too. By contrast, foreign investors from outside the continent, led by China, have scented opportunity and opened their wallets.
Changes in store for the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme
A late entry to this roundup is the proposed amendment to the European Union (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). This may entail the introduction of a Border Adjustment Measure (BAM) with the loss of free allowances for the cement sector in Phase IV. Cembureau, the European Cement Association, has slammed the changes as ‘discriminatory’ and raised concerns over how this would affect competitiveness. In opposition the environmental campaign group Sandbag has defended the changes as ones that could put a stop to the ‘cement sector’s windfall profits from the ETS.’
High growth shifts to Philippines and other territories
Indonesia may be lurching towards production overcapacity, but fear not, the Philippines have arrived on the scene to provide high double-digit growth on the back of the Duterte Infrastructure Plan. The Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CEMAP) has said that cement sales have risen by 10.1% year-on-year to 20.1Mt in the first three quarters of 2016 and lots of new plants and upgrade projects are underway. The other place drawing attention in the second half of the year has been Pakistan with cement sales jumping in response to projects being built by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Global Cement Weekly will return on 4 January 2016
US: HeidelbergCement has completed the sale of its Martinsburg, West Virginia cement plant and eight related terminals to Cementos Argos. With the finalisation of the sale the group has now met all the obligations with regards to its acquisition of Italcementi.
“With the disposal of the US assets we fulfil the obligation of the Federal Trade Commission and improve the net financial position of HeidelbergCement after the acquisition of Italcementi,” said Bernd Scheifele, chief executive officer of HeidelbergCement.
HeidelbergCement and Cementos Argos announced the sale in August 2016. The transaction purchase price was US$660m on a cash and debt-free basis. The FTC approved the agreement in November 2016.
Morocco’s Directorate of Financial Studies and Forecasting has reported that cement sales rose by 8.4% year-on-year in October 2016. It's good news for a local cement industry that saw its sales fall from 16.1Mt in 2011 to a low of 14.1Mt in 2014. Sales picked up slightly in 2015 and it looks like the same is going to happen again in 2016. Data from the Moroccan Cement Association (APC) support this with consumption of cement very slightly higher for the first nine month for 2016. Good sales figures in October can only help.
Graph 1: Cement consumption for the first nine months of the year, 2013 – 2016. Source: L’Association Professionnelle des Cimentiers du Maroc.
2016 has also been an interesting time for the Moroccan cement industry due to consequences of the merger and acquisition activity by the multinational producers that operate there. In March 2016, amidst a slew of divestments, LafargeHolcim made a point of announcing that it was holding on to its cement businesses under Lafarge Maroc and Holcim Maroc and enlarging them with its local partner SNI to form LaafrgeHolcim Maroc. The deconsolidation of Holcim Maroc picked up a net gain before taxes of Euro219m for a total consideration of Euro463m, which should considerably add to the group’s cash proceeds.
It managed to avoid being forced to sell off assets by the local competition body when it merged in 2014 due to its relatively low stakes in its companies. Today it has a production capacity of 13.2Mt/yr from seven integrated cement plants or over half the country’s production capacity. In its annual report for 2015 LafargeHolcim said that its cement business saw its results improve, mitigating problems in its aggregate and ready-mix concrete markets. This was followed by good results in the first half of 2016. New projects in the pipeline include plans to build a cement plant in Agadir and a grinding plant in Laâyoune in Western Sahara.
2016 has also seen the acquisition of Morocco’s second largest cement producer, Ciments du Maroc, by HeidelbergCement as part of its purchase of Italcementi. It’s too soon for HeidelbergCement to have reported upon the territory in its first integrated quarterly financial report following the takeover but it did describe Morocco as a having a ‘high growth potential.’ How these assets fit into the wide portfolio of HeidelbergCement’s new production base will be interesting. Ciments de l’Atlas’ (CIMAT), the country’s third largest and local producer, saw its sales fall slightly to Euro124m in the first half of 2016. However, its net profit rose by 13% year-on-year to Euro30m.
The other story of note in recent months in Morocco has been the public outcry against a shipment of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) from Italy in June 2016 destined for a cement plant in Casablanca. The subsequent protests saw waste imports to be suspended, leading Hakima al-Haiti, the government minister at the heart of the affair, to describe the furore as causing damage to the country’s economy in the aftermath. However her opponents rallied under the phrase “Nous ne sommes pas une poubelle” or ‘We are not a trash can.’ Despite this setback for the secondary fuels market, LafargeHolcim highlighted the work its Ecoval waste processing subsidiary has been conducting producing RDF at its Oum Azza site ahead of the Climate Change Conference of the Parties held in Marrakech in mid-November 2016. Although the key difference here is that Ecoval is generating RDF from local waste streams not importing them.
Perhaps as a sign of the growth potential Morocco may hold, this week, a non-cement producer was revealed to be planning to build a cement plant at Tarfaya. Previously the company, Global Oil Shale, had intended to develop shale oil resources at the site but it has switched its plan to constructing a 1.6Mt/yr cement plant instead and hired Luis Verde, a former technical director at Cemex who has also worked for Dangote. Together with the Lafarge project in Laâyoune and the Ciement Sud (CIMSUD) plant also in Western Sahara due to open in mid-2017 it suggest that the investors smell opportunity.