Holcim New Zealand continues to investigate one medium term and two long term options to meet projected demand for cement in New Zealand.
After 12 months work on a wide range of options, Holcim announced in May that it was prioritising the options being investigated, and would focus future work on three options. Continuation of the existing Westport plant, with an appropriate maintenance and capital works programme, in combination with supporting imports on a bulk basis, is being investigated as a medium term option. Imports supplementing local production would be shipped direct to market terminals, in contrast to the current method of importing cement in bulk bags. The two long term options involve a new dry process cement plant at either Westport or Weston. We have a focused work programme in place for each of these three options, and continue to work our way through it, according to Paul Commons, General Manager Strategy and Development, Holcim New Zealand.
Information needed for the current plant plus imports options is largely about ongoing plant operational needs, environmental considerations and importing infrastructure. For a new cement plant at Westport, work is concentrated on energy, limestone reserves and port operations. And for the Weston new plant option, the focus is on processing resource consents. Consenting outcomes will be a key factor in the viability of the Weston option.
"When we first announced that we were investigating options to meet project cement demand, we acknowledged that this causes a period of uncertainty for people," said Mr Commons. "We understand that people want certainty, and are keen to help us reach a point where we are able to make a decision. The level of submissions put forward by Westport residents on the Weston option resource consent applications is recognition that we are valued both as part of the Westport community and as an employer, and we appreciate that expression of support."
Two cement supply options will be put forward to parent company, Holcim Ltd. These will first be considered by the Holcim Ltd Executive Committee, and will subsequently go forward to the Holcim Ltd Board for a decision, which is not expected before 2008. The next step for Holcim New Zealand is to narrow the three options being investigated down to two.