Holcim’s high hopes for Oamaru, New Zealand

Holcim’s high hopes for Oamaru, New Zealand
Published: 18 July 2008

Holcim NZ is confident it has the corporate and community support for a proposed $300-$400 million Oamaru cement plant to complete the project by 2012, despite a near doubling of the original cost.

Holcim has been consulting Oamaru residents since 2006 over its plans to build the cement plant to employ 120 people. Further court hearings are due.

Holcim has decided the suburb of Weston is the preferred site for a new plant. Another option is retention of the existing Westport Cement Works at Cape Foulwind.

The Westport plant output was at full capacity of 500,000 tonnes a year, meaning New Zealand needed to import cement to meet demand, Holcim NZ capital projects manager Ken Cowie said.

The rising cost of steel and other building products had driven up the likely cost of a new 880,000-tonne-a-year plant to between $300 million and $400 million. That was above a previous estimate of $200 million, but the subsidiary of the Swiss Holcim group was confident of the support of its parent, Mr Cowie said.

Westport production would stop by 2012 if the Oamaru plant started up by then as planned, he said. Holcim had named PrimePort in Timaru as the preferred port to distribute cement when production started.