Concerned residents of the Riebeek Valley have been given a further six weeks in which to comment on plans to build a ZAR3bn cement factory in the area.
"We have decided to extend the deadline in response to requests from the community for more time to review fully the draft environmental impact report," said Orrie Fenn, chief operating officer of Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC).
This comes after residents complained that the January 31 deadline was not enough time in which to review and comment on the 1 000-odd page environmental impact assessment (EIA) report compiled by consultants Ninham Shand.
PPC plans to replace its existing facility, which manufactures 550,000tpa, with a new factory capable of yielding 1.2Mta.
Cement prices to firm up in southern, northern markets
Demand for cement is expected to grow faster than supply, further widening the demand-supply gap and leading to firmer prices.
"Cement prices in the south have witnessed an increase of about Rs 10 per bag and we expect a further hike in the prices down south and up north in the coming weeks," Sharekhan Ltd Senior Vice President Sandeep Nanda said in a research report.
"We did not expect a price cut during the monsoon season. Soon after the monsoon the cement prices were hiked in select regions, mainly in the southern states of India," Nanda said.
Going forward, demand was expected to grow faster than the supply, further worsening the demand-supply situation and leading to firmer prices, he said.
Companies like Madras Cement Ltd (MCL) and JK Cement are investing in captive power, which will keep a check on their variable costs. Many, particularly ACC, are also investing heavily in renewable energy which will fetch additional revenue in the form of carbon credits. Such companies would also get depreciation benefits in the case of investments in wind energy.
"We are positive on the sector going forward, as we expect to see good volume growth coupled with an increase in cement prices which will boost both the top line and the bottom line of the cement companies," he said.