Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Caribbean Cement to re-enter export market by year end

Published:Wednesday | February 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Peter Donkersloot Ponce, general manager of Caribbean Cement Company Limited.

The US$50-million programme will allow the plant to achieve a capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per year, Donkersloot told the Financial Gleaner.

"It must be noted that every step has been taken to ensure that the Jamaican market is well covered and serviced during this period, a key ethos being the fulsome return to the export market with the resultant foreign exchange earnings," said the cement executive.

"As it relates to return to exports," he added, "we continue to assess the opportunities that are available within the Caribbean markets - both previous and new - as we look towards other opportunities within the wider region."

Caribbean Cement suspended exports in April 2016 to focus on supplying its home market. At the time, the cement plant was also securing additional supplies from sister plants in the region to augment supplies to the Jamaican market.

That year cross border cement sales fell 21 per cent to 119,098 tonnes, while clinker exports dropped 78 per cent to 39,540 tonnes.

Export sales of cement were mainly to Suriname and Haiti, while clinker was supplied to Caribbean Cement's sister plant in Barbados, as well as to Venezuela.

Production at the Rockfort, Kingston-based plant in 2017 amounted to around 910,000 tonnes, the company said. Output was basically flat relative to the 911,000 tonnes produced in 2016.

Donkersloot said the new coal mill now scheduled to be commissioned within the second quarter of this year, as well as upgrades to both cement mills, a new packing line, and upgrades and replacement of conveyor belts and dust collectors would serve to boost production.

He adds that the company, working in conjunction with its ultimate parent Cemex, will also be introducing new technologies and promoting different applications of cement to drive demand. Caribbean Cement's sales revenue climbed from $15.78 billion to $16.5 billion in 2017, but net profit slipped from $1.3 billion or $1.53 per share to $1.15 billion or $1.35 per share.

For 2018: "We will work towards improving our performance as our restructuring process is complete and we continue to strive for organisational efficiency and competitiveness," Donkersloot said.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com