Brazil should produce around one million tons more of cement this year. Last year, the industries in the sector produced 34.4 million tons of the product, according to the National Union of the Cement Industry.
The executive secretary of the Union, José Otávio Carneiro de Carvalho, believes that production is going to grow around 3% in 2005, meaning a total of 35.4 million tons.
“There should be small growth of consumption this year,” stated Carvalho.
Brazilian industries are currently working with excess capacity and the production growth normally accompanies demand. Sector exports, however, are still very small.
Last year, the industries exported the equivalent to 500,000 tons of products. Up to the month of April this year, a total of 180,000 tons were shipped abroad. Production reached 11.1 million tons in the period.
“The world cement market is very narrow,” explained the executive secretary of the Union.
The relation between weight and product price ends up making cement export not very viable to distant regions. This makes sales take place only to close countries or in case a country has very great demand. Cement is also a perishable product.
According to Carvalho, product exports represented around 7% of the world production. The United States is currently the great cement importer.
Brazilian exports are, mostly, to the North Americans, but also to Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay. Last year, Brazilian industries also exported to Africa.
Brazil is among the ten largest cement producers in the world and is the largest in Latin America.
So as to be closer to their foreign markets, some Brazilian companies have operations outside Brazil. That is the case with Votorantim Cimentos, which has units in Canada and the United States.
The Camargo Corrêa group also purchased Loma Negra, a large cement producer in Argentina, at the beginning of this year. Three of the companies that operate in the sector in Brazil are already, in fact, extensions of foreign companies. Lafarge is originally French, Holcim is Swiss and Cimpor is Portuguese.
The cement sector in Brazil is basically made up of ten large groups: Votorantim, João Santos, Cimpor, Holcim, Camargo Corrêa, Lafarge, CP Cimento, Ciplan, Soeicom and Itambé.
Votorantim leads in terms of production, with 13 million tons produced in 2004, or 38% of domestic production.
After Votorantim comes João Santos, from northeastern Brazil, with 4.4 million tons, and Cimpor, with 3.5 million tons.
Camargo Corrêa produced 2.9 million tons last year, Lafarge 2.2 million, CP Cimento 1.7 million, Ciplan 1.1 million, Soeicom 929,000 tons and Itambé 860,000 tons.
The Brazilian region that concentrates the largest volume of production is the Southeast. The region answered to 50% of domestic production between January and April.
The Northeast, however, answers to the largest export volume. Of the 180,000 tons sold abroad up to the fourth month of the year, 137,000 came from Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas and Sergipe, all in the Northeast.
ANBA – www.anba.com.br