Lafarge SA, could import about 600,000t of cement and clinker until it increases its capacity in 2008, CEO Albert Corcos said.
Several local cement producers have embarked on cement capacity expansion projects because of unprecedented demand.
Corcos said the company would source the cement and clinker from within the group and external suppliers, mainly in India and China.
He said the company would import the products through its international trading arm Cementia, which he said had access to excess capacity from Lafarge plants worldwide and from other reliable sources.
"We have the flexibility of belonging to a big group," he said.
The 600000 tons of imports would "more or less" be split equally between cement and clinker."
"As it is now we are likely to lose money (because of the exports)," he said.
Corcos hoped the imported cement would arrive in SA before the end of this month. The imports would be used mainly in coastal areas as it was expensive to transport the product inland.
"We hope that the growth in demand will continue in the next few years. Our industry was taken by surprise by the acceleration in demand," he said.
He said Lafarge had embarked on R1,2bn capacity expansion projects which were expected to come on stream in 2008.
These include increasing the capacity at the company’s Lichtenburg plant by a million tons.
The company said the project was on track and scheduled for finalisation and commissioning in 2008.