RESPONDING to claims that the UK cement market is not functioning properly, the British Cement Association (BCA) has emphasized that, under the terms of the Cement Makers’ Code, signed by all UK cement manufacturers, its members are pledged to act competitively and within the full requirements of the law.
The BCA’s response followed last week’s announcement by the British Aggregates Association (BAA) that it is to launch an investigation into the operation of the UK cement market following a growing number of complaints from its members about material shortages, high prices and a perceived lack
of genuine competition among suppliers.
In its reply, the BCA said it was usual for cement producers to conduct their planned phased annual maintenance shutdowns in the winter months as this was traditionally the period of lowest demand, and that ahead of such shutdowns stocks would normally be built up to maximum levels.
This year, however, owing to higher than expected seasonal demand because of mild weather conditions, and higher than normal levels of unplanned production problems, these stocks were not sufficient to meet the demand, said the BCA.
It added that UK manufacturers would normally import cement to make up for any shortfall, but that this year short-term supplies were not available in Europe due to unseasonably warm weather maintaining demand on the continent.
The BCA concluded that the current position had been caused by a range of factors but was being resolved and was unlikely to be repeated. It added that all UK plants were now back in production following their maintenance shutdowns, and that the supply situation was gradually easing but would take some time to resolve.