Nordic stability lies ahead

Published 24 March 2012

The Nordic cement markets comprising Sweden, Norway, Finland, Demark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have many modern cement plants operating kilns with some of the highest alternative fuel substitution rates. The region also has a wealth of cement terminals and grinding stations, encouraging strong trade, especially via sea routes.

Sweden, Norway and Finland are the three biggest Nordic cement markets, with Denmark a distant fourth in terms of cement demand. The three Baltic countries, being modest in population terms, and have low per capita consumption rates. Norway, helped by its oil wealth, has the highest per capita consumption rate at 321kg, followed by Finland.

Between them, the seven Nordic countries consumed 7.7Mt of cement in 2010. The production of cement and clinker was higher than this as, with the exception of Finland, all countries are important exporters of cementitous products. The combined population is 31.8m, which is less than Poland with 38.1m inhabitants.

After a very weak 2009, the Nordic cement markets generally improved in 2010. Finland showed the strongest increase, with a 33.3 per cent advance and in both Lithuania and in Sweden growth in cement consumption exceeded 10 per cent. Per capita cement consumption has traditionally been low in the region, reflecting the widespread use of wood in residential construction.

At present, each country has a single domestic cement producer, but this will change in Estonia in 2015, when a clinker grinding operation comes on-stream. HeidelbergCement is the sole cement producer in Sweden, Norway and Estonia. CRH is in that position in Finland, but also has a 25 per cent minority stake in the Estonian producer. Cementir of Italy owns the Danish Aalborg Cement. In the case of Latvia, Cemex is the only producer, while the independent Akménes Cementas holds that position in Lithuania, although Cemex has a minority stake there.

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