Rising steel costs, low supplies of cement and a shortage of workers still may be delaying construction schedules in Miami-Dade County. One industry executive said last week that a lack of cement could postpone some projects up to 60 days. "Scarcity of cement can be an issue," said Luis Garcia, president of Adonel Concrete. "In 2004, we had a shortage and many constructions on Brickell Avenue and in Miami Beach stopped completely."
Mr. Garcia said one of the reasons for the lack cement is that Titan Cement Co.’s new plant in Medley, which has a 1.8Mt annual capacity, is not (in his view) "running efficiently." He also said Rinker Materials Corp. in West Palm Beach is having a hard time importing cement. Hardy Johnson, president of Titan, said the plant will boost cement production but still won’t fill Florida’s annual need. "Our plant in Medley is adding capacity, but because of the state’s strong construction activity, supply is still critical," said Mr. Johnson.
Jose Cancio, president of concrete producer Supermix, said, "It’s all about supply and demand. Miami is in a construction boom and is the hottest real estate market in the US. As a result, supply is getting short." Mr. Cancio said Florida consumes 9.5Mt of cement annually and has a production capacity of 5.4Mt. The remaining 4.1Mt, about 40 per cent, must be imported from Brazil, Colombia, Greece, Spain, Sweden and Venezuela.
Mr. Cancio said cement prices in Florida always have been below the national average. According to the Florida Concrete & Product Association, cement prices in the state average US$85 per ton. Mr. Cancio said he is optimistic that the lack of construction materials will be short-lived. "Lack of cement won’t be a problem," he said. "The new mill in Medley is doubling production and will alleviate some of the needs."
Because of the high cost of construction, Richard Horton, president of the Builders Association of South Florida, said developers are looking at more cost-efficient methods of construction. "For example, builders are reducing the amount of glass in a project and increasing the amount of masonry and therefore saving in air-conditioning costs." Mr. Horton said the labor shortage is a major issue for builders in South Florida. "Cost of labor is going up because there is not enough manpower," he said. "High cost of construction can be a problem in the future." (abstracted from Miami Today News)