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Iraq: Iraq's cabinet has approved a USD 692m contract for the construction of a massive cement factory in southern Iraq. The 185-acre factory will be built in Diwaniya province, around 150km south of Baghdad according to government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.
The contract was awarded to a joint venture group consisting of an Iraqi company and an Italian firm, but officials declined to give further details. "(The cabinet) has given approval to award an investment licence to erect a cement factory in Diwaniya province to a (local) firm, which is in a joint venture with an Italian firm for a total value of USD 692m," said the cabinet in a statement.
Iraq has some of the world's largest oil reserves and is opening itself up to foreign investors to help it rebuild after decades of war and economic isolation. The government has set a target of USD 30bn for total investment in 2011, mostly in the energy, housing and agriculture sectors.
The National Investment Commission has previously put together an investment plan of 750 projects valued at USD 600bn for rebuilding the country. Its five-year plan totals USD 186bn, of which USD 86bn is to come from foreign and local private investment.
Zambia: The Zambian Environment Management Agency (ZEMA) has ordered Ndola Lime Company to shut down its plant, which has caused public outcry by releasing dust emissions higher than the lawful allowable limits. ZEMA's northern region manager Patson Zulu said that ZEMA had revoked the plant's license for its rotary kiln.
"The complaints from some Ndola residents about excessive dust emissions are justified." said Zulu. "At ZEMA, we have no option than to act accordingly. The onus is now on Ndola Lime to see to it that measures are put in place to comply with the country's environmental laws." Zulu warned other companies breaching the regulations, which are believed to include Lafarge operations, that they also risked being shut down. "People should be allowed to enjoy a good quality of life by having air which is not polluted. We shall no longer tolerate environmental mischief," he said.
Ndola Lime's acting general manager Abraham Witika confirmed that his company was failing to meet the lawful allowable dust emission standards because its kiln's dust abetment unit had developed a fault." Ndola Lime Company has already done an assessment on the damaged abatement unit that is responsible for regulating the levels of dust emission and the process to order the replacement has started," he said, adding that it was unfortunate that the plant had developed a fault despite having only having had the dust abetment unit replaced (at a cost of USD 3.5m) in August 2010.
US/Colombia: Ceratech, Inc., a producer of alternative, non-OPC cementitious materials, has accepted another strategic equity investment, this time from Colombian cement powerhouse Cementos Argos. The Ceratech investment follows Argos' recent expansion of its US presence through a USD 760m purchase of Lafarge assets in the south east of the country. The strategic investment will help Argos meet its goal of building a competitive advantage based on sustainability and innovation.
Ceratech's manufacturing process produces technologically advanced, more durable, 'sustainable cements' comprising 95% waste fly ash generated by electric utilities. Its production does not generate any CO2 and the product is well-positioned for adoption by contractors, distributors and companies that are looking for new solutions that better conform to green building initiatives.
The two companies will cooperate to develop and distribute Ceratech's cement through Argos' established ready mix channels throughout the mid-Atlantic, southeastern and southwestern US markets.
"This strategic investment being made by Argos shows how important innovative, sustainable construction products are to the industry," stated Jon Hyman, CEO of Ceratech. "Ours is the only cement on the market composed of more than 90% fly ash. As the industry's only carbon-free cement, we exceed the requirements for green building practices such as USGBC's LEED rating system."
Written by Global Cement staff
20 June 2011
UAE: On 13 June 2011 Lafarge Emirates Cement inaugurated its first distribution centre in the region, in cooperation with Al Saeed AL Zaabi General Trading. The new centre in the Mussaffah Industrial Area in Abu Dhabi was inaugurated by Antoine Duclaux, CEO of Lafarge Emirates Cement in the presence of many of the company's strategic partners.
Duclaux said that the new 350m2 showroom in Mussaffah Industrial Area was a big achievement and that Lafarge Emirates was contributing to the growth of the construction growth market by offering its quality products in the UAE.
Adham El-Sharkawy, Commercial Director at Lafarge Emirates Cement said that the facility would present a new 'shopping experience' to cement end users by offering a full range of high quality products and various other building materials products under one roof in a highly modern showroom.
Written by Global Cement staff
17 June 2011
Japan: Major cement makers are dispersing their coal purchases to hedge against the risk of buying when prices are high. Traditionally, cement companies purchase a year's worth of coal in the month of April because price changes have tended to be small. With coal prices becoming more volatile, however, they are keeping a close eye on the market to gauge favourable times to buy.
Producers are hoping to keep costs in check in this way because coal purchases account for at least half of their materials expenses. Taiheiyo Cement has procured only about 30% of its coal supply for the current fiscal year, while Sumitomo Osaka Cement Co. and Mitsubishi Materials Corp. have each purchased around 60%. Sumitomo Osaka Cement, which began spreading out its purchases in the previous fiscal year, is reportedly considering whether or not to disperse costs even further.
Coal prices began rising in 2010 after major floods in Australia and the jump between January and March 2011, which served as the basis for purchase prices in April 2011, was particularly steep. Consequently, Taiheiyo Cement and Sumitomo Osaka Cement are believed to have paid nearly USD 150/t, an increase of 30% on April 2010. Wholesale coal prices are currently at around USD 135/t.