Mali's path to cement self-sufficiency

Mali's path to cement self-sufficiency
16 February 2024

Set on expansion in west Africa, CIMAF announced this week that it had laid the foundation stone for its new grinding plant in Mali. Other cement producers have also targeted Mali, which saw cement shortages in 2021 but now has a crop of new cement plants under construction.

The sudden surge in Mali's cement plant projects is happening despite the challenges of political unrest in the country. There were two coups d’étât in 2020 and 2021, while Al Qaeda is still active in the country and Russia has taken over from France as the outside power with the most influence. Fighting continues between the army, Tuareg rebel groups and jihadists in the north.

Cement shortages have encouraged higher cement prices and a need to invest in the cement sector. The results have been almost instantaneous for a country that only had 1.12Mt of cement production in 2020.

Greenfield plant building
The CIMAF project is located in Natien, Sikasso region, in southeastern Mali, and approximately 360km southeast of the capital, Bamako. Moreover, the plant under construction is not far from the borders of Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire. Designed as a 1Mta plant in the first phase, to be commissioned in February 2026, a second phase doubling capacity to 2Mta would currently make it the biggest plant in the country. 

However, CIMAF is not alone in wanting to tap this growing market. Its Dio Gare grinding unit in the Koulikoro region is currently being expanded by 0.5Mta ahead of the arrival of a new player in the area. Cimenterie Atlas' greenfield project was announced in June 2022. Its Dio Gare grinding plant lies just north of Bamako and will have a cement grinding capacity of 0.8Mta. Expected to come online in 2025, the plant cost approximately XOF50bn (US$50m). While CIMAF is increasing its capacity at Dio Gare, Diamond Cement Mali SA (WACEM), which operates the 0.7Mta Astro Cement grinding plant in Dio Gare, has not announced any plans for expansion to its 2012 plant. 

Ciment Sahel Mali SA's Béma plant is another new entrant. This grinding unit, established by local company Sacko Holding, is expected to have a greenfield capacity of 2Mta and is due to be commissioned by the 3Q25. A second line could double this and some early reports announced this plant as a 4Mta project. Located in the Bamako district, this factory has a total cost of US$300m, which is being repaid over 15 years. 

Cement self-sufficiency approaches
Mali's cement production had already started its advance before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, as Vicat inaugurated its 0.5Mta grinding plant at Diago in October 2019. At the time, Mali still imported up to 71 per cent of its cement. However, the new capacity projects should see the nominal cement capacity in the country rise to around 6Mta by 2025 from the current 2.4Mta, according to The Global Cement Report, 15th Edition. However, power shortages and market dynamics will maintain low utilisation rates and cement production. While cement output might not suddenly escalate to anywhere near capacity levels, imports are forecast to decline. This could impact Dangote's Senegal plant, which has been exporting to Mali. The Cim Metal Group, which announced plans to establish a plant in Mali in 2019, is also likely to see its opportunities to export from its Côte d'Ivoire factory shrink.

Published under Cement News