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TimePosted 02/07/2019 09:07:17

A flurry of activity in the white cement sector

This week ICR reported on FLSmidth’s successful contract award of Al Safwa Cement's project to convert one of its grey production lines to white cement by 2020. The white cement market is providing extra opportunities to Saudi cement producers as demand for grey cement has been subdued and additional revenue streams are needed. Previously, another Saudi cement company, Al Jouf Cement, had spotted the opportunity offered by this profitable niche market. In April, it announced it would convert its second line at Turaif to white cement production and signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Riga Co.

This year has seen a sudden increase in activity in the white cement sector on the back of rising construction levels in emerging economies with Radiant Insights forecasting a CAGR of 2.8 per cent by 2022. Some white cement plants have been sold, but the industry has also seen new developments and several new entrants.

Algeria is increasing its share in the white cement business and is now preparing to raise white cement exports. LafargeHolcim Algérie exported 10,000t of white cement from its Oggaz works to South Africa last March while Société de Biskria Ciment is planning a 0.5Mta in Wilaya de Biskara.

In Asia, and particularly in Uzbekistan, several white cement plants are planned. UTD Cement Co intends to build a new 0.86Mta white line in Farishky district, Jizzakh region. The plant is not the country’s first white unit as JSC Almalyk MMC already operates a 0.35Mta near Jizzakh. Furthermore, early this year, Gansu Henya Cement Co announced its plans for a new production unit in Kattakurgan. In addition to grey cement, the facility is expected to produce 0.48Mta of white cement.

Meanwhile, Europe has been the bedrock for white cement with Turkish cement producers holding a particularly-strong hold on the market. The sale of Cemex’s Buñol plant in Spain in March 2019 added 0.69Mta of white capacity to Sabançi-owned Çimsa’s impressive white cement portfolio.

Sabanci Holding CEO, Mehmet Güoçmen, commented on the deal: "This investment, which brings our leadership role in Turkey to the international arena, is a very significant milestone when it comes to managing our portfolio in a more balanced and dynamic way. We are targeting global leadership positions by responding to the world's new developments and setting new industry operational benchmarks."

Activity in the Russian cement market is also intensifying following the conversion of one the grey cement lines to white cement at Eurocement Group-owned Zhiguloyovsk Building Materials’ plant in the Samara region at the end of 2018.

However, one of the markets with the most potential to expand is India. FCI Arvali Gypsum and Minerals announced plans to enter the market by 2022 with a 0.3Mta white plant near Nohra Dhar, Sirmour district, Himachal Pradesh.

Significant changes have also occurred in the USA with HeidelbergCement divesting its white facilities to Cementir in 2018. Moreover, Sesco Cement Co announced in May that it would set up a white cement berth at the Port Reedwing terminal in Florida, while Çimsa Americas Cement Manufacturing and Sales Corp and US Cement are also planning plants in Houston (TX) and Brady (TX), respectively.

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