Displaying items by tag: GCW38
A US environmental pressure group is reportedly claiming that Ash Grove has started the process to close two of its wet kilns in Midlothian, Texas. Ash Grove has retorted that the decision is not final yet.
The move fits with a new emissions timetable imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to come into effect in 2013. Yet Ash Grove's response also suggests that it is keeping an eye on the impending Cement Sector Relief Act. Approved by the US House of Representatives in October 2011 with strong Republican support, if this bill makes it to law then the EPA will be forced to recind some of its existing rules concerning emissions from cement plants. This situation could help Ash Grove to manage its kiln investment. Either way, it's no wonder that Ash Grove hasn't committed yet.
All this democratic uncertainty contrasts rather nicely with the last missive from the Chinese Ministry of Information and Technology announcing more cement industry targets as part of the latest Five-year Plan. China's cement industry will source 65% of its electrical needs from waste materials by 2015. Simple! China is currently dealing with wet kilns in a similar fashion. They are being 'eliminated.'
Before we become too fixated on supposed Western decline, our third kiln-related story this week follows a test run at the Lafarge-Strabag plant in Hungary. Billed as one of the most environmentally friendly plants in Europe, the 1Mt/yr facility is due to be finished by 2015. Just in time for China's next Five-Year Plan.
Ireland: The board of CRH has appointed Nicky Hartery as chairman designate and Heather Ann McSharry as a non-executive director. Hartley will succeed the present chairman, Kieran McGowan after the company's annual general meeting in May 2012.
Hartery, aged 60, who joined the board of CRH in 2004, was vice president of manufacturing and business operations for Dell Inc.'s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) operations from 2000 to 2008. Prior to joining Dell he was executive vice president at Eastman Kodak and previously held the position of president and chief executive officer at Verbatim Corporation in the United States. Hartery is a chartered engineer, Fellow of the Institute of Engineers of Ireland, an electrical engineering graduate from University College Cork and holds an MBA from University College Galway.
McSharry, aged 50, is chairman of the board of trustees of Bank of Ireland Pension Fund and is a director of Ergonomics Solutions International, IDA Ireland and the Institute of Directors. She is a former managing director of Reckitt Benckiser and Boots Healthcare in Ireland and was previously a director of Bank of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master of Business Studies degree from University College Dublin.
US: Ash Grove Cement Company has reportedly filed a permit amendment with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) seeking to close two of its three cement kilns in Midlothian, Texas. A local environmental pressure group, Downwinders at Risk, reported that it would convert the third kiln to dry production.
Ash Grove said that it was 'premature' to talk about the permit because the decision was not final. Downwinders' director Jim Schermbeck said that he expects the state agency to approve the change."They're going to reduce emissions. TCEQ will let them do that," Schermbeck said.
US cement kiln operators face a 2013 deadline to meet new emission standards from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The proposed changes would take production down by 20% at the site to around 0.95Mt/yr.
Switzerland: Holcim has reported Euro363m loss for its fourth quarter of 2011 after being hit by a Euro643m impairment charge on its assets in South Africa and Europe. It said that it expects organic growth in operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in 2012. For 2011 as a whole, Holcim reported higher sales volumes for cement, aggregates and ready-mix concrete, although its consolidated net sales decreased by 4.2% (7.5% increase like-for-like). Its operating EBITDA decreased by 12.3% (down 0.2% like-for-like). Its net income fell to Euro565m.
Holcim said that it expects demand for building material to rise in emerging markets in Latin America and Asia, as well as in Russia and Azerbaijan in 2012. It also expects a slight improvement for North America. In Europe, Hocim believes that demand will remain stable, provided that the situation is not undermined by further systemic shocks in the Eurozone. "Holcim expects that the group will achieve organic growth in terms of operating EBITDA," the company said in its quarterly report.
Mexico: Cemex Chairman and Chief Executive Lorenzo Zambrano has slammed Mexico's antitrust commission and reiterated that the company intends to appeal a fine for allegedly blocking competitors from bringing cement into Mexico. Earlier in February 2012, the Federal Competition Commission (CFC), fined Cemex US$800,000 following an investigation into a failed attempt by a competitor to import cement via a silo ship in 2004.
"We've done nothing illegal," Zambrano said, adding that Cemex used legal measures to combat, "what I personally consider was going to be contraband." Zambrano charged the CFC with having an 'attitude of vengeance,' that he said Cemex had suffered for some time. "They didn't prove anything but imposed the fine. We're going to appeal and we're going to win," he added.
The antitrust investigation followed a complaint by a group that was blocked from importing cement in Mexico from Russia in 2004. Comercio para el Desarrollo Mexicano (CDM), formed by local entrepreneurs and several foreign partners, was kept from unloading the shipment. The CFC voted 4-1 to fine Cemex for what it said was a boycott. The CFC said that it had determined that Cemex has substantial power in the wholesale market for cement, and that it systematically carried out actions to keep out imported cement, including using its influence in the cement industry chamber.
Zambrano said Cemex's share of the domestic market is below 50%, when in earlier years, after a series of acquisitions, it had been as high as 68%. "Nothing's been said about the millions of tons of cement capacity that have been installed in Mexico by our competitors," he added.
Kenya: Profits at Bamburi Cement rose by 12% in 2011 backed by stronger revenues from the domestic market and its newly-expanded Ugandan subsidiary. The company earned a pre-tax profit of US$102m in 2011 compared to US$91m in 2010. The group's turnover increased by 28% to US$433m in 2011 from US$338m in 2010. Given pricing pressure in Kenya, Bamburi's main market, the better than expected revenue growth was mainly supported by increased volume sales from the company's Ugandan subsidiary, which was expanded in the last quarter of 2010.
"2011 was characterised by stable domestic prices and better export prices, due to the appreciation of the US dollar,"said Hussein Mansi, Bamburi's managing director. However, the company, like many others worldwide, suffered from a jump in power costs. For this reason, the company is still cautious regarding the local and global macroeconomic environment for 2012. "The uncertain political environment in Kenya continues to make visibility difficult," said Mansi.
China: The Chinese Ministry of Information and Technology has announced that China's cement industry will source 65% of its electricity needs from waste materials by 2015, as part of the country's wide-ranging 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015). It said that this would help China's building materials industry to see its energy consumption per unit of industrial value-added output reduced by 20% by 2015 compared to 2010.
Hungary: Lafarge and Strabag have successfully finished a test run at a Euro250m cement plant that they have jointly completed near Kiralyegyhaza in south west Hungary, according to Lafarge Cement Magyarorszag managing director Frederic Aubet. Mr Aubet said the test run results show the plant to be one of the most environmentally friendly in Europe.
The plant, which will turn out 0.75Mt/yr of clinker and 1Mt/yr of cement, will be fully commissioned by 2015.
Ireland: The Irish cement group CRH, which has cement interests in many key growth markets, has released financial results for 2011 that show an improvement in all of its fiscal indicators. Sales came in at Euro18.08bn for the year, compared to Euro17.2bn in 2010, a 5% improvement. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) came in at Euro1.65bn, up by 3% compared to 2010 when its EBITDA was Euro1.61bn. CRH's operating profit for 2011 was Euro871m, a 25% improvement compared to 2010 and its pre-tax profit was Euro711m, up by a third compared to the Euro534m it made in 2010.
CRH's Chief Executive Myles Lee said, "The positive profit outcome for 2011 demonstrates the advantages of CRH's product and sectoral end-use balance and the benefits of the extensive reorganisation and restructuring measures implemented in response to the exceptionally difficult markets of recent years. Assuming no major economic or energy market dislocations, we expect to generate further like-for-like revenue growth in 2012 with the achievement of targeted price increases a key priority. This combined with benefits from acquisitions completed in 2011 leads us to expect further progress in the year ahead."
US: Holcim (US) Inc. has decided to permanently close its cement making operations at its Catskill facility, according to a New York State Department of Conservation Environmental Notice Bulletin. The company is also set to permanently close its Artesia plant in Mississippi. Both plants had previously been mothballed due to the stagnating US economy and low cement demand.
Holcim Vice President of Corporate Communications Robin DeCarlo said that the state of the economy had not improved. She said that this, along with a decrease in demand for cement across the US, had led Holcim to decide to permanently close the plants.
Speaking of the Catskill plant, DeCarlo said, "Nothing has really changed with the plant from the mothball status to the close. We still have staff there, we are still looking at our equipment and are maintaining our permits, so not much has changed."
DeCarlo said that there are no plans for Catskill at this point and that a timeline on the completion of the closures remains unclear. The announcement to cease operations at Catskill was reported to the Department for Environmental Conservation (DEC) for the sole purpose of changing Holcim's solid waste permit. This will allow it to dispose of its raw materials, according to DEC Region 4 spokesman Rick Georgeson.