South African cement volumes soared by 19.3 per cent y/y in the first quarter 2004 to 2,282,068t, according to data released by the Cement & Concrete Institute (CNCI). There was a 14.3 per cent y/y rise to 905,875t in March after increasing by 21.5 per cent y/y in February and a 6.3 per cent y/y rise in January 2004. The record monthly total was set in October 2003 at 916,666t. In 2003 domestic cement sales grew by 7.0 per cent to 9,105,466t after increasing by 5.9 per cent to 8,511,851t in 2002 following only 1.8 per cent growth in 2001.
The rise in cement sales is only partly explained by usage in preparing the port at Coega in the Eastern Cape, where cement sales more than doubled (up 109.7 per cent) in February after increasing by 79.8 per cent y/y in December and a 151.2 per cent y/y surge in August. Third quarter 2003 sales were up 109.7 per cent y/y in the Eastern Cape and were up 105.4 per cent y/y in the first quarter 2004. If the sales for the Eastern Cape are excluded, then first quarter sales are still up a massive 16.3 per cent y/y in the first quarter 2004. The CNCI at the beginning of the year was looking for growth for the whole year of between 5% and 8%, but this is likely to be revised higher at the next forecast in May.