Colombia’s cement sales in the first nine months of the year were 34 per cent higher than in the same period of last year and the figures indicate that production will reach 10Mt this year, newspaper La República quoted cement institute ICPC director Carlos Alberto Ossa as saying. Domestic cement consumption will be around 7.7M t in 2005, he said. Added to export figures of some 2.5Mt, this will mean that production will be not far from 10Mt, which would be a record for the sector and a significant turnaround after several troubled years, the official added. The increase in cement consumption in the country has been seen in most industrialized sectors, both regarding ready-mix concrete and prefabrication projects.
The situation augurs well for this area of the national economy as it is considered to have very significant growth potential, given that cement consumption per capita is still one of the lowest in Latin America at around 160kg. The hope is that sales can again reach the levels of 220kg per capita seen in the mid-1990s before it slipped to as low as 120kg per capita because of the economic recession. "I think that in the future we can regain growth in per capita consumption, just as has occurred in various Latin American countries. At present this figure in the country is approximately 157kg, when the world average is 240kg," Ossa was quoted as saying.
A few days ago, José Alberto Vélez, president of Cementos Argos, the biggest firm in the domestic sector, said that sales volumes had risen 42 per cent and company production for the year would be more than 6.5 million 50kg sacks. One of the factors boosting domestic cement consumption is the current low level of prices in the market, where 50kg sacks cost around 7000 pesos (approximately US$3 per bag).