Displaying items by tag: Philippines
HeidelbergCement buys Italcementi
Undeniably the big story of the year, HeidelbergCement has gradually acquired Italcementi throughout 2016. Notably, unlike the merger of Lafarge and Holcim, the cement producer has not held a party to mark the occasion. Instead each major step of the process has been reported upon incrementally in press releases and other sources throughout the year. The enlarged HeidelbergCement appears to be in a better market position than LafargeHolcim but it will be watched carefully in 2017 for signs of weakness.
LafargeHolcim faces accusations over conduct in Syria
The general theme for LafargeHolcim in 2016 has been one of divestments to shore up its balance sheet. However, one news story could potentially sum up its decline for the wider public. In June 2016 French newspaper Le Monde alleged that Lafarge had struck deals with armed groups in Syria, including so-called Islamic State (IS), to protect its assets in 2013 and 2014. LafargeHolcim didn’t deny the claims directly in June. Then in response to a legal challenge on the issue mounted in November 2016 its language tightened to statements condoning terrorism whilst still allowing some wriggle room. As almost all of the international groups in Syria are opposed to IS, should these allegations prove to be true it will not look good for the world’s largest cement producer.
China and India balance sector restructuring with production growth
Both China and India seem to have turned a corner in 2016 with growing cement production and a generally more upbeat feeling for the industries. Both have also seen some high profile consolidations or mergers underway which will hopefully cut inefficiencies. China’s focus on its ‘One Belt, One Road’ appears to be delivering foreign contracts as CBMI’s recent flurry of orders in Africa attests although Sinoma’s equipment arm was losing money in the first half of 2016. Meanwhile, India may have damaged its own growth in the short term through its demonetisation policy to take high value Indian rupee currency notes out of circulation. In November 2016 cement demand was believed to have dropped by up to half as the real estate sector struggled to adapt. The pain is anticipated to carry on until the end of March 2017.
US industry growth stuck in the slow lane
The US cement industry has failed to take off yet again in 2016 with growth lagging below 5%. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has reported that clinker production has risen by 1% in the first ten months of 2016 and that it fell in the third quarter of the year. In response, the Portland Cement Association (PCA) lowered its forecasts for both 2016 and 2017. One unknown here has been the election of President-elect Donald Trump and the uncertainty over what his policies might bring. If he ‘goes large,’ as he said he wants to, on infrastructure then the cement industry will benefit. Yet, knock-on effects from other potential policies like restricting migrant labour might have unpredictable consequences upon the general construction industry.
African expansion follows the money
International cement producers have prospered at the expense of local ones in 2016. The big shock this year was when Nigeria’s Dangote announced that it was scaling back its expansion plans in response to problems in Nigeria principally with the devaluation of the Naira. Since then it has also faced local problems in Ghana, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Its sub-Saharan competitor PPC has also had problems too. By contrast, foreign investors from outside the continent, led by China, have scented opportunity and opened their wallets.
Changes in store for the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme
A late entry to this roundup is the proposed amendment to the European Union (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). This may entail the introduction of a Border Adjustment Measure (BAM) with the loss of free allowances for the cement sector in Phase IV. Cembureau, the European Cement Association, has slammed the changes as ‘discriminatory’ and raised concerns over how this would affect competitiveness. In opposition the environmental campaign group Sandbag has defended the changes as ones that could put a stop to the ‘cement sector’s windfall profits from the ETS.’
High growth shifts to Philippines and other territories
Indonesia may be lurching towards production overcapacity, but fear not, the Philippines have arrived on the scene to provide high double-digit growth on the back of the Duterte Infrastructure Plan. The Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CEMAP) has said that cement sales have risen by 10.1% year-on-year to 20.1Mt in the first three quarters of 2016 and lots of new plants and upgrade projects are underway. The other place drawing attention in the second half of the year has been Pakistan with cement sales jumping in response to projects being built by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Global Cement Weekly will return on 4 January 2016
Philippines: The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has issued show cause orders against two cement projects. Orders were issued to the Mindanao Portland Cement Corporation and the Pozzolan and the Associate Minerals Cement Plant, as well as to nine other mining companies, according to the Philippine Star newspaper. Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said that these companies should explain within seven days why fines should not be issued and environmental compliance certificates cancelled. The initiative is part of a review of environmental certificates issues by previous administrations.
Construction firm DMCI Holdings announced plans this week to enter the Philippine cement market. The company intends to build one cement plant on Semirara and three cement grinding plants elsewhere – at Batangas, Iloilo and Zamboanga – to give it a national presence. DMCI’s managing director Victor Limlingan admitted to local press that his company was taking a gamble on spending US$368m in this way.
It has staked its money on the Duterte Infrastructure Plan, a scheme from the new administration that was elected in June 2016 to target US$165bn (!) towards infrastructure spending until the early 2020s. Even if a portion of this money makes it from political hyperbole to the diggers then it is likely to mean a sustained construction boom for an economy that is already growing at around 6%/yr. DCMI’s excitement was almost palpable in mid-November 2016 when it put out a press release calling for potential partners to help it benefit from the rush when it comes. Although the company did add that all the discussions were at the exploratory stage at this time because it was still awaiting bidding documents.
DMCI’s project joins six plants in various stages of planning and construction from San Miguel, Northern Cement, Eagle Cement and LafargeHolcim. In addition four existing plants are carrying out upgrades to increase their production capacity. Clearly, things are looking up for the local cement industry. DMCI follows San Miguel which announced that it was going to spend US$1bn on building five cement plants around the country in mid-2015.
In line with this kind of investment the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CEMAP) said that cement sales had risen by 10.1% year-on-year to 20.1Mt in the first three quarters of 2016. This follows annual sales growth of 8.7% to 21.3Mt in 2014 and of 14.3% to 24Mt in 2015. CEMAP’s data for 2015 also shows that local demand overtook the country’s kiln capacity in 2014. Subsequently imports peaked to 314,000t in 2014, the highest level since 2002.
The country’s second largest producer Republic Cement, a joint venture between CRH and Aboitiz, reported sales growth similar to CEMAP’s one for the first three months of the year. LafargeHolcim, the largest producer, didn’t reveal any figures in its third quarter report but it marked the Philippines as one of its key contributors in the quarter. By contrast, Cemex noted lower growth in its third quarter report at 4% for the nine months to September 2016. It also said that the government transition following the election had slowed cement consumption, especially from infrastructure projects.
The Philippine cement industry is in the enviable position of being in a boom. The kind of problems it has to cope with includes provincial cement shortages, lobbying to increase usage of blended cements, scrutiny of prices by the government and a rise in technical smuggling. Once the new plants and upgrades start becoming operational the true nature of the market should become more apparent. At present it looks likely that DCMI gamble may turn out to be a wise one. The next question will be how many more companies want a piece of the piece too?
Philippines: DMCI Holdings is planning to spend US$180m to build a 1.7Mt/yr cement plant on Semirara Island in the Visayan Islands. The plant will also include a 0.4Mt/yr grinding mill and a captive power plant. DMCI is also planning to build three cement grinding plants in Batangas, Iloilo and Zamboanga, for a cost of US$188m, to give it access to markets throughout the country, according to the Business Mirror newspaper. The plants will be completed by 2020. Victor Limlingan, the managing director of DMCI, said that the company hopes to benefit from the government’s infrastructure spending.
Philippines: Eagle Cement plans to hold the groundbreaking ceremony for its 2Mt/yr plant at Davao on 20 October 2016. The US$300m project is intended to meet demand from infrastructure development near Manila, according to the Philippines News Agency. Ramon S Ang, the owner of Eagle Cement, said that the construction of the plant is part of a plan he announced earlier in 2016 for the cement producer to help support the country's growth while strengthening its position in the industry.
Philippines: Cement sales have risen by 10.7% year-on-year to 13.2Mt in the first half of 2016 due to increased government spending on infrastructure and improved private sector involvement in construction. Ernesto Ordoñez, president of the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines, also cited good weather as helping drive up sales, in comments made to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Private sector construction constitutes 76% of cement sales, while public construction projects use the remaining 24%.
Philippines: Republic Cement is expanding its grinding capacity by over 10% in anticipation of a rise in demand prompted by increased government infrastructure spending. Other planned upgrades include an improved dust collection system at the cement producer’s plant in Bulacan. The company is also considering building new cement plants. Company president Renato C Sunico made the comments to local press at a forum on social housing.
The government of the Philippines has cited public infrastructure as one of its general spending priorities, setting aside US$18.5bn, which is equivalent to 5.4% of gross domestic product, in 2017.
Philippines: The National Consumer Affairs Council (NCAC) has warned that around 150,000 bags of cement being sold might be contaminated with seawater. NCAC chairman Jose Paredes Pepito said the contaminated cement entered stores after a ship carrying cement from Vietnam encountered a leak that caused 6000t of cement to get wet, according to the Philippines Star newspaper. The imported cement is part of a 25,000t shipment of Halong brand cement which was unloaded in La Union in March 2016.
“Besides, re-bagged cement should not be sold unless first tested by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Unfortunately, the DTI does not know the location of the 150,000 bags at this point. In the meantime, the public should be very careful when choosing the cement products that they buy in the local market,” said Pepito. He added that the contaminated cement is considered substandard and dangerous if used for construction.
Philippines: Cemex Philippines plans to build a US$300m cement plant with a production capacity of 1.5Mt/yr. The plant will be in operation in the second half of 2019, according to Reuters. Company president and chief executive Pedro Jose Palomino made the announcement amid the company’s initial public offering on the Philippine Stock Exchange.
Philippines: The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has asked cement producers to explain differences in cement prices in certain areas of the country. Price monitoring by the DTI has spotted discrepancies between the high price of cement in Region XII, specifically in Cotabato City, and the National Capitol Region compared to a relative low price in Cebu since January 2016, according to the Philippines Star newspaper.
The DTI has asked cement producers, including Holcim Philippines, Eagle Cement Corp., Lafarge Republic and Cemex Philippines to respond about the prices of their local brands Holcim Excel, Advance, Republic, and Rizal and Apo, respectively. Cement traders such as Bojourno Trading, Summit Koncrete Products and Cohaco Merchandising & Development have also been requested to submit their response for the prices of the imported Halong, Thang Long and Conch cement brands.