US$15m cement plan to ease crisis

US$15m cement plan to ease crisis
Published: 11 August 2008

Bahrain’s only cement manufacturer, Star Cement, is to invest US$15m (BD5.6m) to increase production and combat a critical shortage, it was revealed yesterday.

The mill in Hidd has a capacity to produce 400,000tpa of cement. It will be increased to 500,000t when a new mill is installed, said Star Cement chief executive officer R S M Abul Hasan. Bahrain’s construction industry has been badly hit by a shortage of cement and other materials, following a restriction by Saudi on exports.

"The cost of the new mill is estimated at $15m," Mr Abul Hasan told the GDN. "We hope to install it within eight to 10 months."

Star Cement is a division of the UAE-based ETA Star Group.

"When we took over the plant from Korean firm Hyundai in 2002, it was producing only 240,000tpa," said Mr Abul Hasan."Our technical team has been able to upgrade the plant and increase its capacity to 400,000t.

"There are no raw materials for cement production available in Bahrain. We import them from India and the UAE. We import semi-finished products and convert them into finished products."

Mr Abul Hasan said his group was willing to invest more for the industrial development of Bahrain. "However, we face a lot of problems from environmental officials," he added. "We are trying our best to comply with all environmental standards.

"The new plant, which we are planning to install, will also meet all these standards."

ETA Star Group already has cement plants in Sudan, Yemen, Bangladesh, the UAE and Djibouti. Bahrain’s total requirement of cement is about 3.3 million tonnes a year, sources said. Two companies are importing about 800,000t and a Saudi company is exporting to Bahrain 440,000t.

Another company, Falcon Cement, is also finalising plans to erect a plant to produce 370,000tpa of cement. It will be the first plant to import raw materials and convert it into cement. Eighty per cent of the cement produced or imported are sent to ready-mix companies.