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Brazil: Denmark's FLSmidth has announced that it has been awarded a contract worth US$83m by Margem Companhia de Mineração (a subsidiary of Supremo Cimentos) for delivery of equipment and services at its new cement production line in Brazil. The plant will be located in Adrianópolis, in Paraná, approximately 130km north of Curitiba. The order will contribute beneficially to FLSmidth's earnings until 2014.
The scope of supply includes all major process equipment including an EV crusher, a stacker/reclaimer, ATOX mills for both raw and fuel grinding, an ILC 5-stage preheater, a ROTAX-2 kiln, an FLSmidth Cross-Bar cooler and an OK Mill for cement grinding. Furthermore, air pollution control systems, a packing plant, as well as automation and control equipment are included. FLSmidth MAAG Gear and FLSmidth Pfister will also contribute to the project.
The project will feature the latest technology to ensure the production process is both environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient. "The continuously growing demand for infrastructure in Latin America makes it an interesting market for FLSmidth," said Group CEO Jørgen Huno Rasmussen. "Our capability of delivering full scope systems, as underlined by this order, reinforces FLSmidth's strong position and our ability to tap into the important Latin American market."
Reporting the annual results for Turkish cement producer Adana Çimento opened up an issue familiar from many of the international big players' annual reports last year: currency fluctuations.
The conversion rate between the US dollar and the Turkish lira rose from US$1 to Turkish lire 1.55 at the end of 2010 to US$1 to Turkish lira 1.89 at the end of 2011. This created the alarming situation where the company's annual sales rose by 3% from 2010 to 2011 if you measured it in Turkish lira, but fell by 15% if you measured it in US dollars!
Great news for currency speculators playing with so-called 'hot money' but not so great for manufacturers seeking stable trading conditions. As for the company's shareholders, if they are paid their dividend in Turkish lira then it's the value of the lira that is important. If the shareholders have to change Turkish lira into their own 'foreign' currency in order to spend it (or keep it in the bank), into dollars for example, then that's when they could lose out.
This is particularly bad news for a country like Turkey with its strong export market. Although looking at the nation's top export destinations in 2010 reveals a roll call of instability, including Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt. Regardless of the price, these countries are going to need cement when the dust settles from ongoing political turmoil, something we also cover in another story this week with reports of striking at Egyptian plants. Cement isn't likely to be coming from Saudi Arabia though, which we see is enjoying demand driven by government-funded construction projects.
Elsewhere this week we have stories on the impact of the Indian Budget on the cement industry, yet more Dangote projects in Cameroon and Liberia and promising signs from Taiheiyo in Japan.
France: Gerard Lamarche, managing director of Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, will be appointed to the board of Lafarge at a meeting on 15 May 2012. He will replace Thierry de Rudder.
Lamarche, aged 50, graduated from the University of Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium. He also completed the advanced management programme at the INSEAD Business School. He began his professional career in 1983 with Deloitte Haskins & Sells in Belgium, and became mergers and acquisition consultant in the Netherlands in 1987.
From 1995 he became the special projects advisor to the president and secretary of the Suez board of directors and participated in the merger between Compagnie de Suez and Lyonnaise des Eaux in 1997. He was later appointed the new Group's senior vice president in charge of planning, control and accounts management. He was appointed senior executive vice president – finance of the Suez Group in 2004, becoming executive vice president, CFO of GDF SUEZ, and member of the Management and Executive Committees of the GDF SUEZ Group in July 2008. Lamarche is also a director of Total and Legrand.
Egypt: Italcementi subsidiary Suez Cement has announced that workers at two of its factories in Suez and Katamiya started a strike on 14 March 2012. The strike has halted shipping at these plants although production has not been affected. In a separate statement Suez Cement said that strike action at its Tourah plant ended on 20 March 2012.
Saudi Arabia: Government spending and increased economic activity will fuel strong demand for cement in 2012, according to a new report from NCB Capital.
The report, which concentrated on Southern Cement and Saudi Cement due to their spare capacity and high stock levels, indicated that cement prices increased by an average of 14.1%. Demand is anticipated to grow by 10% in 2012 and by 8% in 2013, driven by increasing government spending on infrastructure projects combined with private projects. Sales are expected to grow by 10.8% in 2012 to reach 52.2Mt.
According to the report, market activity is shifting from the central region to the western region of the country. The western region is now the centre of mega projects such as the Haramain railway, Jeddah's new airport and major drainage and other infrastructure projects. Demand in the central region nonetheless remains strong but has stabilised.
Fuel shortages remain the key supply constraint. Cement industry players believe the reason for the ongoing higher prices faced by retail buyers is mainly due to higher costs from the transportation companies. For example, a transportation company's truck that was able to make two trips a day to the cement factory can now only make one trip every three days due to the high demand and backlog at the local cement plant, thus increasing the cost for transportation companies. It is believed that prices will remain elevated in the short term due to the supply constraints and also in the medium term due to the strong demand outlook.
The economics team at NCB estimated that the 2012 government spending was 13% higher than budgeted at U$S280bn in addition to the US$32bn allocated to build 500,000 housing units. "We believe the elevated levels of government spending, particularly housing projects, will boost demand for cement," the report said.