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Global cement consumption up 9.9% last year

by Ben Roberts on Apr 7, 2011

China's economic boom has seen it drive cement consumption.
China's economic boom has seen it drive cement consumption.

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Global consumption of cement grew 9.9% last year to continue a strong rebound in demand as construction worldwide picks up since the economic downturn of 2008, according to a new report.

The ninth edition of International Cement Review’s Global Cement Report found that 3,294 million tonnes (Mt) were sold, topping the 2,998 million tonnes sold in 2009, which was a growth rate of 5.9%, strongly reversing a slowdown of 2.4% the previous year. Worldwide cement consumption is forecast to reach a record 3859Mt by 2012.

The report provides statistics for demand for the commodity in more than 160 countries, along with additional data for clinker consumption. China dominates world cement statistics, results show consuming more than a third of global output – or 1,851 million tonnes - in 2010, almost double 2004 levels. India, the closest rival to China for economic growth was the second-largest consumer at 212Mt, with the United States, the third-largest consumer, saw demand fall down to 69Mt.

Turkey is the world's leading export nation of cement and clinker, with sales of 19Mt in 2010, overtaking China which recorded close to 17Mt of export sales. Thailand was third with 14Mt of cement and clinker exports.

Bangladesh is the largest cement and clinker importer, with over 12 million tonnes of deliveries in 2010, followed by Nigeria at 7 million tonnes and the USA at close to 6 million – a sixth of 2006 levels.

Lafarge remains the world’s biggest selling company, shifting 141.2Mt last year to produce a turnover of EUR 15.8 billion, ahead of Holcim with cement sales of 136.7Mt and a turnover of EUR15.6 billion, a ahead of HeidelbergCement. Holcim still has the largest global cement capacity, at 212Mt, 11Mt higher than Lafarge.

Many cement suppliers in the Gulf region have seen their sales volumes and values fall in the last year following an overall slump in construction activity, particularly in Dubai, which fuelled a boom in sales due to the intense building activity in the emirate in the last five years. UAE suppliers have even been selling into nearby Oman to retain margin, which has in turn hit the profits of Omani suppliers. Executives at Raysut Cement Company in Muscat told shareholders in its annual financial report that a decline in net profits was partly impacted by this regional competition.

Saudi Arabia remains the biggest GCC cement market, and has nine companies listed on the Tadawul, the stock exchange in Riyadh. Last year, Al Jouf Cement listed after a brief tender period. An analyst in Bahrain told CW that there would be “three or four” more companies to list in the Kingdom in the next few years, despite the fact that the market is becoming increasingly saturated due to the strict criteria on exporting, which results in the great majority of cement to be marketed domestically.

Results last year were strong last year for many of the publicly-traded Saudi suppliers, with only Yanbu Cement and Qassim Cement Company selling less than in 2009.

The analyst added that, as the companies originally may have listed to capture the profits of exporting before new strictures were put in place, there may be a consolidation among the listed companies.

Companies to come on line in the next few years not seeking a listing include Gulf Cement Company in Riyadh, a separate company from both the Abu Dhabi-listed supplier based in Ras Al Khaimah and the company that is part of Al Khalij Holding in Qatar, all of which share the same name. The Saudi company is the brain child of Abdullah bin Mansour Souliman Al-Shugair, the vice chairman and managing director, who has numerous business lines.