Lafarge is reportedly planning two projects worth about US$450m in the Iraqi city of Kerbala, according to an investment bank working with the French company on both deals.
The world’s largest cement maker by market value is bidding for US$150m contract to rehabilitate a cement plant in Kerbala with a capacity of 2Mta said Basil al-Rahim, managing partner of Merchant Bridge said.
Lafarge and Merchant Bridge have a licence to build another 2Mta plant in the city, Rahim said, estimating that project was worth about $300m.
"We are working on the cement plant licences in a joint venture with Lafarge and all the permits are in place," he said.
The Iraqi government has opened up the cement sector to foreign firms, hoping they will be keen to join in the reconstruction under way after years of war and sanctions.
The ministry of industry and minerals sold 19 licences for greenfield cement plants in 2005 as part of plans to raise Iraq’s capacity to 25Mta from about 17Mt.
"Only three or four of those licensees have made progress like us," Rahim said.
Egypt’s Orascom Construction Industries operates one cement plant in Iraq and is due to complete a second by the end of 2007.