Colombia’s largest cement maker, Cementos Argos SA will gradually boost its cement exports to the US to 4Mta from a current 2.1Mt after its new plant in the Caribbean port of Cartagena starts operating in 2009.
Argos’ exports to the U.S. would represent about 12% of the foreign cement bought in the US, said Jorge Mario Velasquez, the company’s vice president of logistics.
Cementos Argos will build a $300m new cement factory in Cartagena. The new factory, which will include a port and a power generation plant, is scheduled to start production in the first quarter of 2009.
"We hope to have more growth as the demand in the U.S. increases," Velasquez said.
The production from the new factory will almost exclusively supply foreign markets, Velasquez said in a press conference on Thursday evening.
The company will expand its overall exports from Colombia to 4.8Mt a year from a current 3Mt. Cementos Argos also sells cement in the Caribbean islands and in Peru.
In 2005 and 2006, Argos bought three concrete companies in the U.S. for a little less than $700m. These are Southern Star Concrete, which has 46 concrete plants in the US, Concrete Express, which sells most of its concrete in Georgia and South Carolina and ready-mixed concrete supplier RMCC Group Inc.
Argos will mainly sell the cement made in Colombia to its US units.
The Colombian company plans to invest $40 million in its US units in 2007 to expand their capacity, Velasquez said.
"The company will finance the investment with the cashflow we generate in the US," he added.
He didn’t rule out new acquisitions in the US in the future.