Votorantim's cement division, at the end of September, had a debt of R$2,385.6m (€942.8m), representing a gearing level of 71%, and in December raised R$1,000m (€395m) to finance expansion, notably abroad, and to re-finance some existing debt.
The Brazilian group has recently agreed to acquire a 38.4% investment in Cementos Avelleneda in Argentina and Cementos Artigas in Uruguay from the leading Spanish cement group Valderrivas. In Brazil, Votorantim is investing in excess of R$2,000m (€800m) to increase cement capacity by around 30% in the three years to 2011. This includes the two new integrated were commissioned in 2009, at Porto Velho in the state of Rondênia (0.75Mt) and at Xambioa in the state of Tocantins (1.0Mt) and there are now some 30 cement works operated by the group in Brazil. A pozzolan kiln was also commissioned at Nobres, Mato Grosso, in 2009.
The extensive use of the burning of waste has helped Votorantim to achieve a comparatively low carbon footprint. In addition to capacity extensions at existing plants, a 1.5Mta slag grinding plant at Septiba (Rio de Janeiro) and a 1.3Mta integrated cement works at Vidal Ramos (Santa Catarina) are to be commissioned this year, with a further new integrated works at Barauna in Rio Grande do Norte following next year.
In 2008, for which the results have been published, cement production rose by 15% to 20.8Mt, giving Votorantim a market share of 41%. Downstream, there are now over 90 batching plants and a number of quarries as well as the production of dry mortar and limestone. Votorantim Cement North America saw cement production decline by some 10% in 2008 to 4.2Mt and fell further last year from the four cement plants in the United States, including the 1.35Mt joint venture Sumter Cement Company in Florida commissioned in 2009, and the two in Canada.
The construction of a 0.9Mta cement works in Georgia, originally planned for 2010, has been deferred because of the drop in US demand. Downstream, there are 17 quarries and pits and around 150 batching, plants which in 2008 produced 10.9Mt of aggregates and 5.3m m³ of ready-mixed concrete, making Votorantim an important participant in the North American downstream markets. Elsewhere, there is presently a grinding plant at Puerto Suarez in Bolivia and a 15.3% interest in Cementos Bio Bio in Chile.
Globally, and the cement capacity at the end of the year stood at 33Mt, with the capacities in aggregates and ready-mixed concrete standing at 22.5Mt and 12m m³ respectively. Group cement production in creased in 2009, as the growth in the expanding Brazilian market more than offset the reduction in North America. The turnover of R$7,0048.2m (€2,785.9m) achieved in the first nine months of 2009 compared with R$7,395m recorded for the full year in 2008. The Votorantim cement operations produced a trading margin of 21.9%, which was further boosted at the pre-tax level thanks to net interest received.