Egypt’s licensing committee has decided to cancel El Wadi Cement’s production licence over start-up delays, and is reviewing four other licences, the head of the Industrial Development Authority said on Sunday.
The committee will decide within two weeks whether to cancel the licences of the remaining firms with at least one more licence expected to be cancelled, Amr Assal said.
The four cement companies still being reviewed include al-Arabiya al-Wataniya, El-Nahda Industries, North Sinai Cement and Assiut Cement, the local affiliate of Cemex.
"When we released our licenses two years ago, there was a condition that within three years the factories should be in operation," he said. "We have five companies which did not start yet construction for civil work."
Any cancelled licences will later be issued to other qualified companies. El Wadi has also sold some of its shares to another company in violation of the licensing conditions, Assal said, adding that the firm now has two months to present a claim to the committee regarding the decision.
In October 2007 Egypt granted six greenfield cement factory licences and two more to expand production, in a bid to boost production after rising local prices drove them to impose an export duty in February.
The country re-offered licences for Sohag in southern Egypt and the New Valley in the Western Desert later that year after failing to receive bids for them in October.
Speaking in New York on Friday, Egypt’s trade minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid said that the country would issue between six and eight new cement factory licences by the first quarter of next year.
Cement consumption in Egypt is up 25 per cent, and production is topping 50Mt, the minister said.