Holcim which supplies half of New Zealand’s cement, is considering building a second $100m plant that would double its capacity and reduce shipping and import costs. It is looking at sites in the South Waikato or King Country, to be close to the coal, limestone and power used to produce cement. Another option is to upgrade its existing Westport plant. That plant, producing 500,000t of cement a year, will stay open. The company also imports between 100,000t and 150,000t of cement from the Philippines and Indonesia. "We would like to try to be self-sufficient," managing director Rex Williams said.
Building a plant in the North Island would help reduce transport costs, he said. Shipping cement from the Westport plant to Auckland was so expensive it effectively doubled manufacturing costs. Holcim owns two ships that make about 70 trips a year between Westport and Auckland. "This is about improving our margins, rather than adding capacity," Mr Williams said. He was confident demand for cement would remain strong and wasn’t depending on a building boom. He hoped a recommendation would go to the Holcim board later this year.