New Zealand: Holcim cement plant decision delayed

New Zealand: Holcim cement plant decision delayed
Published: 15 October 2010

A decision on whether cement giant Holcim will build its multimillion-dollar plant at Weston, near Oamaru, has been delayed. Holcim New Zealand said yesterday it would take its proposal to Swiss-based parent company Holcim Ltd early in the new year.

"We were originally aiming to put a proposal before the Holcim Ltd board by year end, however a number of factors, including the need to allow extra time for suppliers to provide up-to-date capital cost information, have impacted on the project timeline," Holcim New Zealand (NZ) capital projects manager Ken Cowie said.

Mr Cowie said it would be next month before Holcim had a final cost for the plant in the Waiareka Valley, near Weston.

Achieving accurate costs for the project had been a key focus for staff working on the project over recent months, he said.

In the past it was estimated the plant would cost US$400m to build. "The work has involved reviewing and refining earlier cost estimates for mechanical, electrical and civil aspects of the plant construction," Mr Cowie said.

"Factors influencing the Holcim Ltd board’s decision could include how the Holcim NZ proposal compares with other international investment opportunities, timing factors around availability of capital, New Zealand Government policies, and satisfaction with the information supplied by Holcim NZ."

The plant would cover a site of about 24ha, initially producing 650,000t of cement a year, rising to 880,000t at full production. There would be a coal mine at Ngapara, sand quarry at Windsor and limestone quarry near the plant. The plant and its associated quarries have resource consents from the Waitaki District Council and Otago Regional Council, confirmed in August last year after an appeal to the Environment Court.

Holcim NZ decided Weston was the preferred location for the plant, that will replace the outdated Westport Cement Works at Cape Foulwind. About 110 to 120 jobs could be created in Oamaru if the plant goes ahead and up to 480 jobs could be created at the peak of the plant’s construction. It is hoped the plant would be operating by 2014.