Cementos Argos announces investment in Colombia's central zone

Cementos Argos announces investment in Colombia's central zone

Colombia’s leading cement producer Cementos Argos announced yesterday that it is to spend US$93m in expanding its cement capacity in the country’s central zone as the company positions itself for expected increases in domestic construction acitivity.

The main focus of Argos’ investment will be the expansion of its Rioclara plant by 900,000tpa of cement. The project involves the  extension of clinker capacity, the installation of a high-efficiency vertical mill plus packing and a truck loading system. The Rioclara plant is strategically located, serving the markets of Antioquia, Bogotá and Eje Cafetero (the Coffee Belt). The investment will take Argos’ installed capacity in Colombia from 10Mta to 10.9Mta and the project is scheduled to start operations in the first quarter of 2014.

Commenting on the project, Jorge Mario Velasquez president of Argos said: "Colombia presents great opportunities for growth. To the extent that the country embarks on ambitious projects to modernise its infrastructure and close the gap housing, there will be an increase in the per capita cement consumption, which is now 20 per cent lower than the Latin American average. With this investment, coupled with the modern plant at Cartagena and other production facilities throughout the country, we hope to capture a significant portion of this growth."

Bright prospects for Colombian construction

Current growth forecasts of the Colombian economy, the recovery of sovereign investment grade and the government's public commitment to infrastructure development point to positive expectations in the construction sector, with sales forecast to grow 3-6 per cent annually over the next decade, according to Argos. Investments planned for the nine-year period 2011–2021 add up to US$55.2bn, or 19 per cent of GDP, Colombia’s ever highest allocation to infrastructure in history.

The 'Autopistas para la Prosperidad' highway system, with investments of more than US$2bn, is one of the single-largest infrastructure projects to be developed in Latin America. The National Development Plan (201-14) will also see the development of one million homes and public works maintenance and recovery program (more than US$14m allocated between 2011-14), as a result of the Niña heavy rains. Furthermore, work will be carried out on four trade corridors, 5200 double-lane highways through to 2021 as well as the improvement of 23 airport terminals, following trade agreements with the United States (Open Skies).