Displaying items by tag: LafargeHolcim
US: A fire has been reported at LafargeHolcim’s Hagerstown cement plant in Maryland. An overloaded conveyor belt was the source of the blaze near the centre of the site that broke out on the evening of 20 February 2017, according to the Herald-Mail newspaper. High temperatures prevented fire fighters from tacking the fire immediately and it burned for over an hour.
India: Ambuja Cement’s standalone net sales fell by 2% year-on-year to US$1.37bn in 2016 from US$1.4bn in 2015. Its sales volumes of cement fell by 2% to 21.1Mt from 21.5Mt. However, its operating earnings before interest taxation, amortisation and depreciation (EBITDA) rose by 10% to US$251m from US$229m. It blamed the loss in sales on the government’s demonetisation policy and bad weather. Despite sales growth in the first half of the year, its sales volumes in the fourth quarter fell by 9% due to cash shortages.
“Our rapid adoption of cashless payment methods in the December 2016 quarter helped Ambuja to deliver a strong performance in 2016. In 2017 we are well placed to be part of the infrastructure development panned by the government and the new thrust on affordable hosing projects,” said Ajay Kapur, chief executive officer of Ambuja Cement.
The cement producer also reported that its operating costs fell in 2016 due to a reduction in energy costs, mainly due to an increased use of petcoke, higher usage of alternative fuels and general efficiency improvements.
Poland: LafargeHolcim has awarded a contract to A Tec to upgrade the chlorine bypass system at its Kujawy cement plant. A Tec will upgrade its existing Reduchlor bypass system to increase the rate to 10% from 5%. The upgrade will retain the system’s existing bypass filter and filter fan. The project will be commissioned in spring of 2017.
A Tec’s Reduchlor bypass system consists of a take-off chamber above the kiln inlet, specifically designed for each installation, and a specially designed quenching chamber, to which the chlorine condenses on and adheres to fine dust particles. After this condensation process the chlorine-enriched material is collected in a filter.
Spain: LafargeHolcim’s Montcada i Reixac cement plant in Catalonia is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017. A number of events will be held throughout the year to mark the centenary of the establishment of the plant by local industrialist Eusebi Güell including an exhibition at the Castellar de n’Hug Cement Museum. LafargeHolcim says that the plant contributed over Euro18m to the local economy in 2016.
France: LafargeHolcim has launched its ‘Start-Up Accelerator’ plan to collaborate with entrepreneurs to improve its access to innovative construction solutions. The scheme will offer young companies on-site accommodation and the use of the facilities at the group’s Research and Development Centre in Lyon, France, to develop, test and market their solutions in construction and urban planning. The project will build on LafargeHolcim’s existing experience of working with start-ups in areas that include sustainability, innovative construction systems and the digital sector, as well as its extensive partnerships with customers, end-users and research facilities worldwide.
"With the Start-up Accelerator we are making a commitment to support young companies specialising in construction materials and construction solutions. We can offer them a sophisticated laboratory environment and access to years of experience in creating and applying building materials in thousands of projects and challenging environments around the world. In return, we believe that the start-ups will bring new ideas and new solutions that will change the face of construction in the coming years. We are committed to looking for new solutions for our customers so having the opportunity to bring new ideas together with our own R&D will be invaluable," said Gérard Kuperfarb, Group Head of Growth & Innovation at LafargeHolcim.
The Start-Up Accelerator will be open to entrepreneurs from around the world and will offer them access to offices, laboratory equipment and testing facilities at the industry’s leading Research and Development Centre. They will also benefit from the group’s network of technical experts and its commercial and market experience around the world. As part of the project, LafargeHolcim is also planning to partner with other companies to extend innovation projects along the construction value chain. The first young companies are expected to join the facility in mid-2017.
China: Ron Wirahadiraksa and Hu Chao have resigned from Huaxin Cement. Wirahadiraksa has resigned as a director of the company citing other commitments. Chao has resigned as he has left the company. Both departures take immediate effect.
Wirahadiraksa, the current chief financial offer of LafargeHolcim, was proposed as a director of Huaxin Cement in September 2016. Huaxin Cement is an association company of LafargeHolcim. As of 31 December 2015, the group held 41.8 % of the voting rights in the associate company.
India: ACC’s net sales have fallen by 4% year-on-year to US$1.63bn in 2016 from US$1.70bn in 2015. Sales volumes of cement fell by 2.7% to 23.0Mt from 23.6Mt and operating earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell by 7.5% to US$211m from US$229m. However, profit after tax rose by 2.7% to US$90m from US$87.5m. The company described the market conditions in 2016 as ‘challenging.’ It added that the economic slowdown following demonetisation was easing.
“The highlight of the year was strong cost saving measures, especially on fuel flexibility and raw materials. Focusing on our high quality, high performance product portfolio played an important role in the overall performance for the year. We are encouraged by the government's plans to invest in infrastructure," said Neeraj Akhoury, Managing Director and chief executive officer of ACC.
The cement producer’s 1.35Mt/yr grinding plant at Sindri, Jharkhand was commissioned at the end October 2016, joining a 2.79Mt/yr integrated plant at Jamul, Chhattisgarh which was commissioned earlier in 2016. The new plants are expected to strengthen ACC’s market presence in the east of the country.
Nigeria/South Africa: Bolloré Logistics has detailed its work on two cement plant projects in Nigeria and South Africa working with China’s CBMI Construction. Teams from the logistics and transport firm in China and Africa have managed both projects.
Supplying equipment to the United Cement Company of Nigeria (Unicem) plant near Calabar involved transporting 500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) and 150,000 freight tons of project cargo with the shipment of 12 break bulk vessels to the Calabar Port. This was completed by more than 5000 round trips from the port to the construction site by truck. This project also included transporting cement mills, ‘out of gauge’ items of cargo that weigh 125t each. Two multi-axle hydraulic trailers were used to transport these 14 pieces of cargo in one shipment. A preliminary road survey and subsequent adjustments to the road infrastructure quality were required for successful delivery.
Work on a 3000t/day PPC plant in Lichtenburg started in August 2015 and is expected to be completed in the autumn of 2017. Bolloré Logistics secured the break bulk sea transportation and inland transport of the construction material and cement plant equipment cargo. To date, 200 TEUs have been moved to the site and 45,000t of freight cargo have been transported from Jingtang and Tianjin port in China to the plant site in South Africa.
“One of the worst moments in its history.” That’s how Paulo Camillo Penna, the newly appointed president of SNIC - the Brazilian National Union of Cement Industry - described his industry last week. Few people are likely to be envying his position at the moment. As Camillo Penna went on to explain, domestic sales of cement fell by 11.7% year-on-year to 57.2Mt in 2016. He added that following capacity utilisation rates of 70% in 2015 and 57% in 2016 that he expected the rate to fall below 50% in 2017. When he said it was bad he wasn’t kidding.
Graph 1: Brazilian cement sales from 2011 to 2016. Source: SNIC.
Graph 2: Regional Brazilian cement production from 2014 to 2016. Source: SNIC.
Graph 1 illustrates how stark the decline in cement sales has been since the growth period at the start of the 2010s. Sales have fallen by 15Mt since 2014 in a country that has a production capacity of 88Mt/yr. Graph 2 presents a regional picture of sales. Note in this graph the sharp drops in sales (21%) in the southeast region of Brazil, an area that contains the key cement producing states of Minas Gerais and Rio De Janeiro. The decline in the northeast region including the state of Bahia, another key cement producing state, has been less extreme but it is still over 15%.
Votorantim, the country’s largest cement producer by production capacity, reported that its cement sale volumes fell by 6% to 26Mt in the first nine months of 2016, with declines in Brazil offset by business in other countries like the US. Its sales revenue also fell, by 7% to US$3.03bn. InterCement’s cement and clinker sales volumes fell by 16% to 11.8Mt in the first half of 2016 and its sales fell by 31% to Euro898m. As it described it, ‘the political and economic instability in Brazil in the first half, impacting on unemployment, investment and government spending, ultimately retracted the construction activity, compressing cement consumption.’ To compound these problems newly opened production capacity also ‘intensified’ competition. Later in 2016 InterCement’s parent company Camargo Corrêa was reported to be in talks to sell a minority stake in Argentina’s Loma Negra to pay off its debts from the cement business in Brazil. Finally, from an international perspective, LafargeHolcim’s global results for the first nine months of 2016 were negatively impacted by ‘challenging’ conditions in Brazil amongst other countries. It laid out an environment of reduced sales volumes and falling prices, although it said that it had used cost cutting to fight this.
Politically, the fallout from the Petrobras bribery scandal is continuing to shake out in the construction industry. In October 2016 it was revealed that the Brazilian Development Bank BNDES had frozen loan payments to construction firms involved in overseas projects worth up to US$7bn, including Camargo Corrêa. The Brazilian economy is expected to grow modestly, at a rise of 0.5% gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017 after dropping in 2016 although this forecast was falling towards the end of 2016. More hopeful news came from the São Paulo state construction union, SindusCon-SP, that in December 2016 released a report forecasting that the construction industry’s output could rise by 0.5%. However, this was dependent on economic reforms.
The question for Camillo Penna and the rest of the Brazilian cement industry is: where exactly is the bottom of the curve? SNIC forecast that cement sales will contract by a further 5 – 7% in 2017 and this is below the 11.7% drop experienced in 2016. So, does SNIC think that the industry is starting to hit against a bedrock of demand that economic headwinds can’t shift? In this kind of environment it seems likely to expect increased merger and acquisition activity. The merger of Brazil’s Magnesita and Austria’s RHI refractory companies that was announced in the autumn of 2016 may just be the start.
Philippines: Holcim Philippines’ Bacnotan and Norzagaray cement plants have won awards for energy efficiency at the 2016 Don Emilio Abello Energy Efficiency Awards. The plants won Awards of Recognition for representing the Philippines in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Competition Best Practice for Energy Management in Buildings and Industries. The La Union plant was cited for its use of alternative fuel and raw materials to reduce its coal consumption, while Bulacan was recognized for its best practices in energy management through process improvements.
Plants operated by Holcim Philippines in Misamis Oriental and Davao City picked up awards for energy efficiency in 2015. In 2014, the company’s Bulacan plant was elevated to the Hall of Fame for receiving the Outstanding Award for three consecutive years.
The Don Emilio Abello Energy Efficiency Awards, run by the Department of Energy, recognise firms that significantly reduce their energy consumption. Participating companies submit consumption reports that are evaluated by energy officials from the public and private sector. The award is a tribute to Emilio Abello, the former Meralco chairman and chief executive officer.