Hugo Chavez’s realignment of the Venezuelan cement sector is taking time; although the founding of the Corporacion Socialista del Cemento was approved in July 2009, a new production system will not be truly in place until the end of next year when milling plants in areas currently lacking them are up and running and extra quarries are operational. Additionally, there exists a need to create firms for the production of sanitary porcelain (bathroom furniture), plaster, tiles etc. In August 2008, Lafarge and Holcim handed over their local operations whilst Cemex’s was expropriated. Lafarge has received 40% of its pay-off, Holcim, nothing; in the case of Cemex, arbitration has started although the Mexican giant now says it wants to talk with Chavez again. The three firms form part of the Corporacion Socialista del Cemento as does the recently set-up joint venture with Iran, Cerro Azul.
The activity of the corporation was due to have begun this month but production has been put back until March 2010 and even then part of the raw materials will be provided by Cemex.