Holcim plans to invest EUR22m to expand the output capacity of one of its Bulgarian plants by the end of 2008 in view of fast growing domestic demand, Holcim Bulgaria CEO Todor Kostov said.
"We are currently in the stage of designing and getting building permits," Kostov told SeeNews.
Last year Holcim Bulgaria completed a EUR32m investment in raising the clinker output capaciy of its Beli Izvor cement plant to 2500tpd from 1500tpd.
"In view of the speedy growth of the market, this capacity expansion proved insufficient," said Kostov.
The cement market in Bulgaria grew roughly by 20% last year, reaching some 3.7Mt, and Kostov forecast that demand will exceed 4Mt this year. Bulgaria, which joined the European Union in January, has unveiled multi-billion euro projects for upgrading its motorways, railoads, sea and river ports and airports by 2015. The ex-communist state of nearly eight million people is still 38% behind its annual cement consumption of 5Mt recorded in the late 1980s, despite its flourishing construction sector, focused mainly on residential buildings, seaside and mountain resorts.
The planned upgrade at Beli Izvor will enable the plant to produce 3000tpd of clinker and will raise its annual output capacity to some 1.4Mt of cement from around 1.1Mt now, said Kostov.
The forthcoming expansion will focus on expanding the plant’s facilities for processing of raw materials, including the reconstruction of an existing third grinder. Construction works are expected to start at the end of the summer and close by November 2008.
"Construction will go ahead almost without halts in production, may be just for up to two months next year at most," said Kostov.
Besides the plant in Beli Izvor, Holcim runs another factory, in the northern Bulgarian city of Pleven, which it acquired from Titan Cement in 2003 in return for its 46.5% stake in Macedonia’s Cementarnica Usje.
Holcim, which is the second-largest cement producer in Bulgaria with a market share of 32%, also runs sand making factories Holcim Karierni Materiali and Karieri, and concrete mixtures producer Komars. Holcim competes in Bulgaria with Italcementi, which has two plants in the country, and Titan, which has one.