Steppe Cement is expecting the Kazakh cement market to improve by around 7% this year to about 6.1Mt. This is after a 12% increase last year to 5.7Mt. Imports were reduced further in 2010 to some 20% of consumption. Average cement prices were relatively stable last year at about US$54/t ex. factory and US$63/t delivered.
Last year, Steppe Cement increased cement sales by 24.3% to 1.17Mt and in the first quarter of this year volume was ahead by 5.6% in a static market, helped by improved export volumes.
The company’s market share stands at 21%. In 2011, it aims to maintain its market share and to increase prices. Electricity and transportation costs are expected to increase this year, but this should at least partly be compensated for by increased productivity at the No. 6 production line, which uses the dry-process. Further investments like this, has enabled the production rate to be raised from 2100tpd to 2500tpd. The four wet lines will all be in production during the main construction season.
Last year, the No. 6 line increased production by 90%, while the wet production was reduced by 5%. The budgeting and evaluation needed for the completion of the refurbishing of the No. 5 kiln has been restarted and will be dependent on the outlook for the market and the competitive situation.
The turnover improved by 23% in 2010 and the pre-tax loss was reduced by 63.7% to US$6.9m, after charging finance costs of US$6.2m and depreciation of US$9.3m.