France’s Lafarge and Iraqi partner Asiacell plan to invest around US4550m to raise cement capacity in Northern Iraq to help meet a shortage in the region, an executive said on Tuesday.
The world’s largest cement producer already has a 65 per cent stake in an existing 7500tpd plant at Bazyan in Iraq’s Kurdish region, Asiacell Chairman Faruk Mustafa Rasool told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.
"We will build a second line with capacity of 7500tpd," Rasool said, adding that the cost would be similar to the US$550m spent to build the first line.
Iraq has been working for the past three years to bring foreign investors to invest as much as US$2bn in its cement factories, but political interference and instability has delayed the effort.The Iraqi cement industry’s total annual production, from 17 factories, is between 4Mt and 5Mt, a fraction of its capacity of 25Mt, the head of the Iraqi Cement State Company said in January. Before the 2003 US-led invasion, Iraq produced around 10Mta, also well below capacity due to a decade of economic sanctions.
"(Our production) is still not enough to meet demand," Rasool said, adding that 20 per cent of it went to Baghdad. Iraq imports around 6Mta of cement from neighbouring Syria and Lebanon to cover consumption, the head of the state cement firm has said.
Lafarge and Asiacell operate a second plant at Tasluja with capacity of 7000tpd after the French producer bought Orascom Cement earlier this year.