Panama public works face possible cement shortage in 2008

Panama public works face possible cement shortage in 2008
Published: 12 December 2007

Public works in Panama face cement shortages from 2008 onwards if manufacturers  Cemex and Cemento Panamá, who control the local market, fail to conclude expansions at their facilities valued at US$300mn, daily Capital Financiero reported.  
 
Expansion plans are due to bring capacity to 3.2Mta. Nevertheless, the present situation indicates the industry will be 800,000t short, considering that current combined production at both companies’ plants is 1.4Mt and 1Mt had to be imported this year, according to the report.  
 
With the local construction industry growing 12.9% up to September, the risk of very tight or even insufficient supply is likely, the report stated.  
 
Panama’s public sector has approved several projects that will require concrete and ready-mix concrete, including the expansion of the Panama Canal, which will need 300,000-350,000tpa.  
 
Further, the Panama construction chamber reported that some 148 private and public construction projects are slated to start in 2008, of which 82 will be developed in San Francisco, 36 in Costa del Este and 30 in Punta Pacífica. 
 
In mid-February, technical glitches at  Cemex and Cemento Panamá plants caused a cement shortage, delaying and even stopping several projects.  
 
Cemex launched a US$270m investment plan in 2006 to expand its Panama operations.  
 
Scheduled for completion next February, the first phase aims to double the Bayano plant’s capacity to 1.4Mta.  
 
The second phase involves increasing clinker production to 1.6Mta, four times current capacity, by the first half of 2009.  
 
Cemento Panamá, owned by Holcim and Colombia’s Argos, is carrying out a US$30m enlargement of its plant to increase production to 1.6Mta. This project should be ready by the end of 2008.