Cement prices on the rise

Cement prices on the rise
Published: 21 June 2004

Cement prices are on the rise from a combination of increased building and lower supply, and the effect is being felt by construction companies.

Ed Epping, plant manager at the Lehigh Cement Co. plant, told The Herald-Times of Bloomington that the United States imports much of its cement, and the amount being shipped from overseas has decreased recently.

Fewer ships are bringing it here, and some countries have banned its export, said Epping, who runs the plant in Mitchell, about 30 miles south of Bloomington.

Also, building construction is on the increase in the United States, China and several Third World countries, he said, so it is a simple matter of supply and demand raising prices.

The increase of US$2 a yard seemed to happen overnight, said Chris Hainey, owner and operator of Monroe County Concrete. The average consumer picking up a 40-pound bag at the hardware store will not notice much of a difference, but construction companies do.

"We poured 75 yards today, so that’s S$150, which won’t kill you, but job after job, it adds up," Hainey said.

Cement, the gray powder that makes the bond between the other products to form hard surfaces, is used in virtually every construction job. With so many building projects going on, cement moves quickly.

"We have nine sister plants," Epping said. "Almost all of them are out of cement."

He also said that particularly in the Midwest, cement stores are running out.

"One of our cement plants didn’t ship for four days because they were out of cement," Epping said.

Hainey said the cement-price increase is coming at the same time steel prices have gone up. In January, Hainey’s company was paying US$390 a ton in January, which has become US$800 a ton.