Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd chief executive Mr Jeremy Smith told the Environment Court Holcim hearing yesterday that he would recommend to Holcim’s New Zealand board of directors that the $300m Weston plant and its quarries proceed, reports the Otago Daily Times. At the earliest, that would be late this year.
The board’s recommendation would then go to Holcim’s parent board in Zurich for final approval. Holcim had already spent about $15 million since the project started in 2004.
Mr Smith emphasised a business case, partially based on the court’s conditions and an up-to-date estimate of the domestic cement market, still needed to be completed. The Weston plant, which would produce 880,000 tonnes of cement a year, was still Holcim’s preferred option to meet the future demand for cement in New Zealand.
Mr Smith acknowledged the economic climate had changed within the past 12 months and, in some ways, was similar to that which led Holcim’s predecessor, New Zealand Cement Holdings, to cancel the project in the 1980s. But he also said the current market and recession was only one aspect in the decision about a plant that would not be in production until 2013.
Building the Weston plant, with a minimum 50-year life and up to 100 years, given the limestone reserves, would be "a long-term decision".