Global Cement Weekly
Issue: GCW93 / Wednesday 27 March 2013
The Mineral Products Association (MPA), which looks after the interests of the cement industry (and other allied industries) in the UK, has said that it welcomes a temporary tax-freeze relating to climate change announced in the UK Budget of 20 March 2013. The MPA singled out the decision to freeze the indexation of the Aggregates Levy until April 2014 and the decision to introduce the Climate Change Levy mineralogical and metallurgical exemption for energy-intensive industries such as cement and lime. Both of these moves by UK Chancellor George Osborne have been welcomed because they bring some relief to the UK cement industry and wider construction activities. MPA members make money from such activites and any potential cost that can be eliminated or delayed, even for a short time, is welcome amid the current slump that is the UK economy. This is especially true as the UK weathers the one of the longest and most severe winters for 50 years. So far, so much sense.
However, how does this reaction to the Climate Change Levy exemption tie in with the MPA's February 2013 announcement that it thinks that the UK cement industry's total CO2 emissions should be reduced by 81% by 2050? What should UK cement producers make of this? The MPA's cement industry CO2 reduction targets are certainly bold. On the face of it, they look achievable given the progress that has been made to date by the UK cement industry, although much is left to the imagination as to which areas could and should contribute most to the reduction target. The 81% reduction target includes the successful future commercial development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. It also relies on an increased proportion of renewable sources for the electricity that the cement industry will receive in 2050, something else that is totally out of the industry's control.
However, much hard work has already been done by cement companies in the UK. As in other EU countries and developed nations, total dust and toxic emissions have fallen dramatically in the UK cement industry since 1990. The country's alternative fuel substitution rate has now hit ~40%. Yet, as the MPA highlights in its document detailing the targets for 2050, much of the low-hanging fruit has already been taken. Further reduction in overall CO2 emissions will be significantly affected by both regulations and cement company progress. Cement companies can increase their consumption of 'wastes' and fit waste-heat recovery systems. Through such measures they can achieve further reductions in emissions. Some kilns have hit alternative fuel substitution rates of 100% for limited periods and examples from the near continent show that 80% alternative fuels can be the norm. However, unlike these 'bottom-up' approaches, which can be introduced at a plant in a period of months, regulations take years to evolve and come into force, often involving slow and lengthly debate by politicians, associations and consumers.
To discourage the government from seeking to impose stricter environmental regulations for the cement industry by welcoming the exemption, is the MPA undercutting its own calls to reduce CO2 emissions in the UK cement industry? From a cement producer's perspective, it looks like the MPA could hold two contradictory opinions on the same subject: that you can welcome reductions in climate regulation while also calling for stricter emissions regulations. This phenomenon was famously termed 'double think' by George Orwell in his classic novel '1984,' but the MPA's situation is far more subtle. Often the regulators and those being regulated can agree on the same target but not on how that target should be reached. The next 37 years will show whether or not this target is even possible.
Russia: Former President and CEO of SibCem Andrey Muraviev has been nominated for the holding company's board of directors. SibCem shareholders hoped that their decision would help the Russian cement producer to recover its market share and financial performance.
Muraviev is a US-educated Russian entrepreneur, who ran SibCem since 2004 and led the company as its president for its first four years until 2008. During these years, the company brought under its umbrella all the cement assets it controls, stepped up investment in innovative technologies and made an initial public offering.
SibCem was Russia's second largest cement producer by mid-2008. Muraviev quit as CEO in August 2008 over disagreements with SibCem's Chairman Oleg Sharykin. Muraviev is currently President of Parus Capital, a Russia-dedicated investment fund which is a member of the Investor Rights Protection Association.
"I believe SibCem is now one of the most undervalued cement companies the world. I see the main reasons for this in its low transparency and poor corporate governance, lack of new assets and inefficient personnel management," commented Muraviev on his possible return to Sibir Cement. Since Muraviev left in 2008 the company has had its entire top management team and all its directors replaced. SibCem's annual revenues also declined by 75%.
China: China Sinoma International Engineering will increase its capital expenditure by 29% to US$1.81bn some of which may be spent on acquiring European companies.
The Chinese state-owned cement equipment manufacturer and cement producer has set aside US$80.5m to acquire mostly foreign cement equipment companies, said chief financial officer Yu Kaijun as reported by the South China Morning Post. "We are in talks to acquire some European cement equipment companies, including German ones."
In the cement equipment sector, Sinoma International would explore opportunities in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, said Sinoma chairman Liu Zhijiang. "It will secure its footing in long-term strategic markets, including Russia and South America and enhance its influence in India," he said.
In 2013 Sinoma International aims to secure more than US$4.83bn of orders for cement equipment with about two-thirds of these originating from outside of China. So far Sinoma International has secured US$1.61bn of orders since January 2013, mostly from abroad. Sinoma will also invest US$956m in expanding cement production capacity in China, a decrease from the US$1.13bn it spent in 2012.
Greece: Heracles Cement has terminated operations at its plant in Halkida, as part of a restructuring program of its production structure. The production unit at Halkida has been idle since July 2011.
The plant at Halkida was hit by a plunge in construction activity in Attica, with sales falling by 80% between 2008 and 2013. The company said it would seek every possible solution to minimise the effect of its decision to close down the unit on its 236 workers. Heracles Cement said the decision will burden its 2013 results by Euro57m but it expects a positive impact of Euro18m/yr in subsequent years.
The restructuring programme is aimed to help the Lafarge subsidiary cope with Greece's recession in its construction sector. Under the new structure, Heracles Cement will continue cement production from its two units in Volos and Evia, exploiting their comparative advantages, mainly their port facilities, to support the group's activities in Greece and in the wider Mediterranean region.
China: China Sinoma International Engineering, one of China's leading providers of cement engineering and integration services, has said that its net profit plunged by 51.3% year-on-year to US$123m in 2012.
In 2012 the company saw its total operating revenue drop by 17.6% year-on-year to US$3.42bn. For its cement engineering and integration services business, the operating revenue fell by 15.5% to US$3.09bn.
The company's revenue from the China market plunged by 23.6% year-on-year to US$1.98bn in 2012. Its overseas market decreased by 8.65% year-on-year to US$1.41bn. As the end of 2012, the Shanghai listed company had US$3.34bn in total assets, up by 8.57% year-on-year.
China: Anhui Conch Cement, the biggest cement producer in Asia by output, has announced that its net profit fell by 45.6% to US$1.03bn in 2012 from US$1.87bn in 2011. The drop was attributed to a decline in the price of cement and a general slowdown in the growth of cement market demand in 2012.
Operating revenue for the company dropped by 6.41% year-on-year to US$7.25bn in 2012 from US$7.83bn in 2011. By market region, Anhui Conch's East China region saw sales fall by 15% in 2012 to US$2.58bn. Its Central China region fell by 19% to US$1.97bn. Its South China region fell by 2% to US$1.39bn, its West China region rose by 59% to US$1.08bn and exports rose by 40% to US$223m.
In 2012 the company sold 187Mt of clinker and cement in 2012, a year-on-year growth of 18.3%. The cement producer added 20.8Mt of clinker production capacity and 28.3Mt of cement production capacity in 2012. At the end of 2012, the group's clinker production capacity and cement production capacity amounted to 184Mt and 209Mt respectively, with a total residual heat electricity generating capacity of 881MW. During 2012 the group also began its first overseas investment project with the start of construction of PT Conch South Kalimantan Cement in Indonesia, with a clinker production line of 3200t/day.
For 2013 Anhui Conch expects 'excessive' production capacity and structural adjustment in the cement industry to continue. However demand will remain stable and government pressure to increase environmental regulations and encourage industry consolidation should benefit the group. The group expects to increase its clinker and cement production capacity by 15.4Mt and 22.5Mt respectively in 2013. For its three major risks for 2013 the group included a volatile construction industry, fuel costs and the risks of further government environmental regulation.
Central African Republic: 92 Indian nationals are reportedly trapped at a cement plant in Bangui, the capital city of Central African Republic (CAR), which is witnessing massive unrest.
"Most of those trapped in violence are labourers from India who have gone to CAR for employment. Those trapped in the cement factory need help to reach a safe location," said Sunil Dhairiyani, manager Waheguru Travels' Cameroon branch in an interview with the Times of India. Rebels known as Seleka have taken control of the national capital and media in the former French colony with a pledge to topple President Francois Bozize who has fled the country.
Namibia: The prosecutor general of Namibia has decided to prosecute Esmerelda Majiedt and five co-accused in the High Court for a scam which allegedly cost AfriSam Cement, the forerunner of the Ohorongo Cement factory, US$8m.
Majiedt is charged with corruption, with the state alleging that while she was employed at AfriSam Cement, she received payments in her personal capacity from customers of the company. During the hearing of a bail application by Majiedt in June 2011, it was alleged that suspect deliveries involving cement worth more than US$7.67m had been made to Afrisam customers without payments for such deliveries being reflected on the company's books. Majiedt claimed that other employees of the company knew her computer password and could have been responsible for the manipulation of Afrisam's accounting system.
China: Asia Cement Corp, one of Taiwan's leading cement suppliers, said that its subsidiary in China, Asia Cement (China) Holdings Corp, saw its net profit plunge year-on-year by 71% in 2012 to US$63.7m, due to an oversupply in China.
Asia Cement (China) posted a revenue of US$1.08bn in 2012, a year-on-year drop of 18.6%. Asia Cement blamed falling product prices in the Chinese market. Asia Cement (China) had a cement production of 24.9Mt in 2012 and its cement sales were 22.7Mt.
The China-based manufacturer sold 3.8Mt of cement in the Nanchang-Jiujiang district of Jiangxi Province, accounting for 31% of the district's total cement sales in 2012, while the company took a 27% share of the Wuhan market in Hubei Province, selling 5Mt in 2012. It accounted for 21% of the total cement sales in Chengdu, Sichuan Province and accounted for 30% of the cement market in Jiangsu Province's Yangzhou in 2012.
Asia Cement (China) said it aims to boost production capacity in its production line in Jianxi Province in an effort to boost its production to 30Mt/yr. In addition, the company said it will seek targets for acquisitions in a bid to further lift production to 50Mt/yr to rank among the top 10 cement suppliers in China.
Thailand: TPI Polene, Thailand's third-largest cement maker, plans to spend US$341m from 2013 to 2016 to develop a new production line at its Saraburi cement plant and to expand into renewable energy.
The project has been postponed since the financial crisis in 1997, said chief executive Prachai Leophairatana to the Bangkok Post. The fourth line will be developed at TPI Polene's existing plant in Saraburi province for US$194m. Production capacity will be raised by 33% to 12Mt/yr by 2026, making it the largest cement plant under one roof in the world.
"TPI Polene is the first Thai cement maker to invest in capacity expansion since 1997," said Prachai. "We saw cement demand gradually recover over the past few years. Additional demand will come from from the government's train projects over the next seven years."
TPI Polene has signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the project with Belgium firms P&V Project (Siemens), ALC Tournai, Atlas Copco and Magotteaux.
Thai cement exports from all producers are expected to come to 7Mt in 2013, down by 30% from 10Mt in 2012. TPI Polene aims to trim its exports to 700,000t in 2013 from 1Mt in 2012.
The company is also preparing to develop a 90MW unit fuelled by community waste, pending an environmental review. Around 60 MW from the new plant will be sold to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, with the rest consumed in-house. The company also plans to generate additional revenue from the new power plant via sales of carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism concept.
Myanmar: Indonesia's largest cement producer PT Semen Indonesia, formerly Semen Gresik, has announced that it will build a US$200m cement plant in Myanmar early in 2014 as part of its expansion into the Southeast Asian market.
The company may pitch about US$70m for the plant, which it would set up with its Myanmar partners, as it aimed to control about a 40% stake in the planned joint venture, said president director Dwi Soetjipto in a press event reported by the Jakarta Post. The construction of the cement plant, designated with a capacity of 1Mt/yr, is scheduled to start in early 2014, while operations are expected to begin in 2017. Based on the firm's plan, the new plant will serve the Myanmar market and neighbouring countries like Thailand and Bangladesh.
The move by Semen Indonesia follows its acquisition of Vietnam's largest cement producer, Thang Long Cement Joint Stock Company, in late 2012. It now aims to expand its annual capacity to 6.5Mt/yr from 2.3Mt/yr by establishing two new plants. At home in Indonesia, Semen Indonesia is also preparing for capacity upgrades with the construction of cement plants in Rembang, Central Java and Padang, West Sumatra, both with production capacities of over 2.5Mt/yr.
In 2013 the firm has targeted a domestic market share of up to 44%, up from 41% in 2012, supported by increased output to around 27Mt from 22.6Mt in 2012, according to Dwi. The overall domestic cement market is estimated to increase by more than 10% to 6Mt in 2013, according to the Indonesian Cement Association.
China: Huaxin Cement Co Ltd, a Hubei Province-based cement producer, announced on 25 March 2013 that the company's net profit came to US$89.5m in 2012, a year-on-year decrease of 48.3%. Huaxin Cement saw its operating revenue for 2012 slide by 0.93% year-on-year to US$2.0bn.
The company attributed the drop in its profit to falling cement prices caused by overcapacity in the Chinese cement market during 2012.
Ukraine: According to preliminary data Eurocement Ukraine finished 2012 with a net profit of Euro3.58m. The company, part of Russia's Eurocement Holding, finished 2011 with losses of Euro4.4m. As of late 2012, the assets of Eurocement Ukraine came to Euro92.1m with current liabilities of Euro23.9m.
Saudi Arabia: Since 20 March 2013 the Northern Region Cement Company (NRCC) has been forced to halt production, due to the closure of a road leading to the plant. This has blocked trucks entering the plant for cement collection and has meant that the plant has now been forced to halt production.
The decision to close the road leading to the plant was taken by a committee drawn up from representatives from the Governorate of Northern Border, the Ministry of Transportation and the Department of the Police in the area, following NRCC's 'failure' to construct an upper bridge road connecting the plant with a nearby international highway.
NRCC was required to construct the bridge road by the authorities in order to safeguard the lives of the people driving in the area. However, an NRCC official said that it cannot be constructed as it would cost US$4.8m, an amount that requires approval through a meeting of the company's general assembly. Additionally, the official called for the formation of a committee to inspect the roads around the plant as he believes that the present road layout poses no danger to road users. He added that the local market would start to feel the effects of the plant shutdown 'very soon.'
Spain: Cement producer Cementos Portland Valderrivas (CPV) is considering the closure of one of its production units in Spain, according to Juan Bejar Ochoa, CEO of the company's majority shareholder FCC. The move looks likely to affect one of the three factories in northern Spain or one of the two plants in Catalonia. Bejar justified the measure by highlighting the 20% decrease in Spanish market demand in 2012. The decision on which unit will be shut down will be taken after analyses of transport and production costs.
Indonesia: ThyssenKrupp Polysius has won a contract from PT Holcim Indonesia Tbk., to build a second cement plant near the town of Tuban on the northern coast of the island of Java. The contract is worth around US$250m and the plant is scheduled to start production in 2015. Tuban 1, the initially-awarded project, is due to begin operation in June 2013. Tuban 2, the newly-awarded project, and Tuban 1 will each have a capacity of 1.7Mt/yr of cement.
"This follow-up order is proof of our good partnership with the customer and shows that our technological solutions and leading engineering expertise are supporting Holcim in the growth of the Indonesian cement industry," said Dr Hans Christoph Atzpodien, CEO of the ThyssenKrupp Polysius' Industrial Solutions business area. "We are firmly focused on the markets of the future."
For both plants ThyssenKrupp Polysius is supplying state-of-the-art equipment covering raw material preparation, clinker production, cement loading and fuel preparation. A POLAB laboratory automation system is being installed for quality monitoring and control.
The Indonesian cement market is predicted to grow at a double-digit rate in 2013. With a production capacity of 8.2Mt/yr Holcim Indonesia is one of the country's top three cement manufacturers.
UK: The Minerals Products Association (MPA) has welcomed measures in the UK government's 2013 budget that will help boost the outlook for the cement industry and the wider mineral products and construction sectors. The MPA singled out the decision to freeze the indexation of the Aggregates Levy until April 2014 and the decision to introduce the Climate Change Levy mineralogical and metallurgical exemption for energy intensive industries such as cement and lime.
"The government is clearly listening and understands that investing in infrastructure and construction is key to securing growth. The issue remains of ensuring that cash flows into action on the ground to help improve confidence and induce private sector investment, which is needed to accelerate growth in demand," said Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the MPA.
China: West China Cement has reported that its gross profit fell by 23.7% to US$109m in 2012 from US$142m in 2011. The Chinese cement producer attributed the shortfall on a decreasing selling price, increases in electricity costs and higher overheads due to lower productivity.
The company's revenue rose by 10.5% to US$567m from US$513m. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBIDTA) fell by 9% to US$170m from US$187m. Cement sales volumes rose by 22% to 14.3Mt in 2012 from 11.7Mt in 2011.
In its annual report West China Cement reported that it is consolidating its position as the largest cement producer in Shaanxi Province as well as expanding into Xinjiang Province, where economic and infrastructure growth promoted by the Chinese government's Western Development Policy remains a key feature of the 12th Five-Year Plan. For 2013 the company expects the recovery in infrastructure demand in the second half of 2012 to continue. However, increased overall capacity in Xinjiang Province is expected to continue impacting upon cement prices in that region.
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