Cement supply to Otago and Southland regions during the past two years has risen up to 20% - one of highest national increases - and is being serviced from imports from Indonesia. By the end of the year, cement supplier and manufacturer Holcim would have to make a decision on spending possibly tens of millions of dollars increasing its production capacity, managing director Rex Williams said when contacted yesterday.
’’Construction activity around New Zealand is well up. We will have to consider some capital investment if it strong construction growth continues,’’ he said. Holcim produces more than 1 million tonnes annually, up from about 700,000 tonnes 10 years ago, and Otago and Southland account for about 100,000 tonnes annually.
While Auckland cement demand was up about 15%, around Otago and Southland the combination of dairy conversions and investment and growth in the construction industry were the main factors for the 15% to 20% increase. ’’Southern construction activity has been very strong. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes during the next few months,’’ he said.
Mr Williams said all the production from its Westport plant was going to the North Island and Otago and Southland requirements had been serviced solely from imported cement from Indonesia for almost six months. For the time being, the cement carrier ship Stam has replaced calls to Dunedin from other vessels, which were delivering Westport-manufactured cement here but which now go to the North Island.
Cement has not been manufactured in Dunedin since its production plant was closed in 1988 and Mr Williams ruled out any resurrection of production here. He could only say capital expenditure to increase production could be in the ’’tens of millions’’ and was dependent on demand from the construction industry during the next few months. Mr Williams concluded by noting: "it was a generation ago in 1974 that cement demand around the country was at similar supply levels of more than 1 million tonnes". Original Report - Otago Daily Times.