Holcim New Zealand, as part of its work on cement supply options, is investigating the logistics of transporting and storing cement in the safest and most efficient way. "We have one medium-term and two long-term options to meet the projected growth in demand for cement in New Zealand, says Paul Commons, General Manager, Strategy and Development for Holcim New Zealand. Holcims medium-term option is to continue the existing Westport plant, with an appropriate maintenance and capital works programme, in combination with supporting imports on a bulk basis. The two long-term options are either a new plant at Westport or a new plant at Weston, near Oamaru. We are working on narrowing the three options to two, which will be put forward to our parent company, Holcim Ltd, to decide. This decision is not expected before 2008. Understanding and planning cement logistics is a key component because transport costs are typically on a par with manufacturing costs.
"Moving cement also requires specialised transporting equipment as well as storage and transfer facilities, all of which require significant capital investment. As a result we look at the national and regional market trends and forecasts to ensure we have the capacity and infrastructure needed to meet market demand. Holcim plans well ahead for upgrading or adding infrastructure to meet projected or actual market demand. This includes logistical investigations to assess the most efficient way to store and move cement. Shipping is an important element in each of the cement supply options being investigated. The company operates two dedicated cement ships and has a long history of operating ships in a wide range conditions throughout New Zealand. Holcim is currently investigating, in conjunction with international consultants and the companys shipping teams, the replacement the one of these ships, the MV Westport. We have a depth of international experience to draw on to ensure international standards are met in the design and operation of our ships and port facilities. Two designs are being refined, one for an 8,000 tonne vessel, and one for a 12,000 tonne vessel, however a decision on the replacement ship design has been postponed to allow further time to determine the outcome of the cement supply options project. A decision will be made by mid-2009 at latest, which would mean a replacement ship would be operational by 2012. "