Austria: Germany-based Loesche has received an order to supply a new raw materials grinding plant to LafargeHolcim subsidiary Lafarge Zements Mannersdorf cement plant. The plant will consist of a type LM 45.4 mill, a LSKS type classifier, a rotary feeder, a magnetic separator, a conveyor, a pair of Hurriclons, a mill fan and the Digital Ready 4.0! digital package. Loseches subsidiaries Kingsblue and AixProcess are responsible for the digital products and A-Tec for the Hurriclons. Commissioning is scheduled by the end of February 2022.
Cement and ore head of sales Stefan Baaken said, "Many cement plants in Europe are facing similar challenges to our customer in Mannersdorf. For us as an original equipment manufacturer and also for the customer, the new grinding plant is an important signpost towards more energy-efficient and sustainable cement production.
India: Naveen Patnaik, the chief minister of Odisha, has attended the inauguration of Ramco Cements new cement grinding plant at Haridaspur. The unit had a cost of just under US$100m and has created 105 direct jobs. A LM 46.2+2 CS type vertical roller mill with a capacity of 3750kW has ordered from Germany-based Loesche in 2018 for the project. The cement producer says that the plant is designed to be totally dust free, including bag filters designed to ensure emission levels below 30mg/m3.
Rwanda: Prime Cement has inaugurated its new 0.6Mt/yr grinding plant in Rwanda in Musanze, Northern Province. It also announced the start of commercial production at the US$40m unit, according to the Rwanda New Times newspaper. It plans to ramp up production to 1.2Mt/yr by mid-2022. Germany-based Loesche installed a Loesche Jumbo CCG (Compact Cement Grinding plant) with type LM 30.2 mill at the site.
The cement plant is owned by Milbridge Holding, a group of companies involved in manufacturing and distribution of construction materials in Angola, the UAE, Rwanda and South Africa. It employs 110 workers directly.
UK: Germany-based Loesche has joined a network of expert companies that share relevant information and results regarding the reduction of environmental impact and the use of coal and enhanced energy security globally in becoming an IEA Clean Coal Centre knowledge partner. The company said, We are excited to be part of this renowned group of companies that aim to improve the environmental impact by use of green technologies, renewable resources, and alternative use of energy sources for more sustainable engineering projects.
Exports are the theme this week with news that the value of Turkeys cement exports fell by 26% year-on-year in April 2020. Reporting from the Trend News Agency showed that the export market has been stable so far for the year to date, with some countries, like Kazakhstan, increasing exports and others, like France, decreasing exports. However the change in April may mark the start of a new trend.
As Tamer Saka, the chairman of the Turkish Cement Manufacturers Association (TMB), said earlier in the year, his country is one of biggest cement exporters in the world and among its most important markets are the US, Israel, Ghana and Ivory Coast. To look at one of these countries, United States Geology Survey (USGS) data shows that cement and clinker imports from Turkey to the US grew by 26% year-on-year to 1Mt for the first quarter of 2020 but that exports fell by 24% year-on-year to 0.11Mt in March 2020. Each of these countries is being affected in different ways by the coronavirus pandemic and at different times. Overall though, Sakas and the TMBs forecast in February 2020 that exports would rise by 15% year-on-year in 2020 is looking decidedly shaky. Any knock to the export market in Turkey is particularly unwanted given the poor state of the Turkish economy at the moment.
What would be useful to know here is how other major cement exporters are coping with the global situation. Data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics shows that Pakistans cement exports dropped by 31% year-on-year to 0.36Mt in April 2020. Data from the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) for the same month tells a similar story. Its data shows a 57% drop in exports to 0.25Mt in April 2020, with a bigger share lost by plants in the north of the country than those in the south.
The other country to note is Vietnam. Here, data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs shows that cement exports fell by 9.7% year-on-year to 7.73Mt in the first quarter of 2020. This follows the announcement by Vietnam Cement Association (VCA) chair Nguyn Quang Cung in May 2020 that all cement plant projects scheduled to begin in 2020 would be suspended. Luckily those currently being built avoided this fate. This has included a new line at Thanh Thang Group Cements integrated Bong Lang cement plant, which Germanys Loesche has just sent a pair of clinker mills to this week.
These changes from the major cement exporters are bad for their host countries but the other side of the chain is how their destinations are affected. For example, Australias clinker imports nearly doubled between 2010 2011 and 2018 2019 to 4.1Mt. This compares to local clinker production of 5.6Mt in 2018 2019, according to the Cement Industry Federation and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. With this in mind, this week saw the resolution to a legal dispute between Wagners Holdings and Boral over a cement supply contract. Boral found a cheaper source of cement from Cement Australia in early 2019 and the two parties argued over their contract. This dispute may have nothing to do with foreign import levels but Wagners Holdings, Boral and Cement Australia all operate standalone clinker grinding plants and will all be subject to general market pricing trends. Higher international clinker levels may add pressure to pricing issues surrounding cement supply contracts in Australia and elsewhere.
Finally, cement trade flows arent the only commodity that has been affected by coronavirus disruption. The mass movement of workers home and then back to work is expected to complicate Indias return to business, as discussed in last weeks column. In this context its pleasing to come across one sign of normality. Local press in Hubei, China reported this week that workers from Huaxin Cement finally flew back to Uzbekistan. They were originally meant to commission a new plant in March 2020 but became stranded at home when they returned for the Chinese New Year. Commissioning of the plant is now planned for later in June 2020.
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Germany/Vietnam: Loesche says that it has dispatched two LM 53.3+3 CS vertical roller mills from its plant in North Rhine-Westphalia for a new line at Thanh Thang Group Cements integrated Bong Lang cement plant. The mills have a combined capacity of 180t/hr and grind clinker to a fineness of 4000 Blaine. The new line, installed by Sinoma-NCDRI, will be commissioned in late-2021. Loesche will also supply two cellular wheel feeders, metal detectors and sealing air blowers.
Germany: The Loesche Training Center in Duesseldorf, Germany played host to 65 delegates from 22 countries on 13 - 14 November 2019 for the companys 8th Technical Seminar. The event's motto was resource-efficient strategies in cement production and was aimed primarily at process and maintenance personnel in the cement industry. The focus was on the exchange of expert knowledge and practical experience.
The first day of the event included presentations on the state of research of CO2 capture, utilisation and storage, alternative fuels in cement production, Loesches first experiences with waste conditioning plants in the US, chlorine bypass considerations, coal mill safety and grinding of novel cement products.
After a sumptuous dinner at the Rhine Tower in Duesseldorf, on the evening of 13 November 2019, delegates reconvened for presentations on wear parts and spare inventory management, mill installation, grinding plant process technology, mill modernisation case-studies and digital maintenance on 14 November 2019.
Delegates were pleased with the level of technical expertise offered, as well as the events organisation and hospitality. Loesche will additionally host a series of Technical Symposia throughout 2020.
Interesting news from Holcim Mexico this week with the announcement that it is planning to invest US$40m towards building a 0.7Mt/yr grinding plant in the state of Yuctan. The unit will be supplied with clinker from Holcim Mexicos Macuspana and Orizaba integrated cement plants. This follows the news in August 2018 that Elementias cement company, Cementos Fortaleza, had started to build a new 0.25Mt/yr grinding plant at Merida in Yucatan. That project has a budget of US$30m.
These two projects offer a contrast to comments made by the head of Cemex Mexico, Ricardo Naya Barba, who was lamenting the state of the market to local press at the start of the month. He said that sales volumes of cement, concrete and aggregates had fallen by 12 15% in the first seven months of 2019. He blamed the decline partly on falling national infrastructure investment. This marked a slight improvement on Cemexs Mexican results for the first of 2019 where sales, sales volumes and earnings were all down. At this time as well as slowing infrastructure projects the situation was also attributed to a residential sector hit by the slower-than anticipated start of the new programs.
Elementias Mexican cement business, Cementos Fortaleza, reported a similar picture in the second quarter of 2019. Its net sales fell by 6% year-on-year to US65.4m from US$69.7m. This was attributed to a market contraction affecting all of Elementias businesses in the country, as well as the redefinition of its core products for the Building Systems business unit. Earnings fell also and this was further attributed to mounting energy and freight costs. Cementos Moctezuma faced many of the same issues. Its cement sales fell by 13% to US$147m in the second quarter of 2019. It is expecting a similar picture for the remainder of the year.
Data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) shows that the value of cement sales in Mexico fell by 7% year-on-year to US$1.21bn in the first quarter of 2019 from US$1.30bn in the same period in 2018. Cement sales volumes fell by 8.2% to 10.9Mt from 11.9Mt. This was the lowest figure since 2014.
The one larger Mexican cement producer that doesnt seem to have been overly troubled so far in 2019 is Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua (GCC). Earlier in the year the company was considered to be the Mexican cement producer most at risk from potential US tariffs due to higher reliance on exports than its competitors. Yet Mexicos National Chamber of Cement (CANACEM) publicly said that that it didnt consider US tariffs a significant barrier to the local industry. GCC reported growing net sales and cement sales volumes in the second quarter of 2019 due to industrial warehouse construction, mining projects and middle-income housing at the northern cities.
Two new grinding plants in a particular region of Mexico dont necessarily reflect the state of the countrys industry as a whole. Yucatan may suit the grinding model due to a lack of raw materials or strong shipping links. The region may also be defying the gloomy national state of affairs in the construction sector. Alternatively, producers may be chasing low-cost and low-risk expansion plans in a tough market. The grinding model wins out over the clinker producing one in this scenario. In the wider picture in August 2019 Cemento Cruz Azul ordered two petcoke grinding mills from Germanys Loesche and Austrias Unitherm Cemcon said it had been awarded the supply of an MAS DT burner to an unnamed cement plant. These suggest that, although the sector may be having a bad year so far, things are expected to get better.
Both mills are LM 41.4 D type coal mills, the largest of their type. They will form part of new production lines at each of the two plants. In addition to the mills, which both have a capacity of 50-65t/hr, Loesche will also supply process gas filters, mill fans, inerting units, explosion vents, cyclone separators, conveyor augers and drag chain conveyors, as well as the complete electrotechnical equipment. The scope of supply also includes the complete detail engineering for the steel and concrete construction.
UK: Hanson Cement says that the first phase of a Euro27m upgrade project to its integrated Padeswood plant in Wales has been completed. The upgrade has included the installation of a 0.65Mt/yr cement grinding mill as well as enhancements to production capacity and efficiency gains. The plant can now, with the aid of existing ball mills, match cement grinding with its kiln capacity.
The nearly new Loesche vertical roller mill, housed in a 34m-high building, started its life at a grinding plant in Bilbao. It had only 7000 operational hours on the clock and was in excellent condition. After dismantling it piece by piece, specialist contractors moved it to the UK where it was reassembled on site at Padeswood, said Jim Claydon, Hanson UK cement managing director.
Other improvements at the site include the installation of three new rail cement silos that have been installed alongside the existing railhead. This will allow up to three trains a week to be loaded for deliveries to Hanson depots in London, Bristol or Glasgow. The new silos will reduce the transportation of cement produced at Padeswood to customers by road. In addition to the increase in grinding capacity, other recent capital investment at Padeswood include the installation of a plastic packing machine, and the re-commissioning of an existing paper packaging machine and an upgrade in the capability to use recycled paper and plastics as fuel.