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Sat 7 Jan 2006 04:00 AM

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Work set to start on largest cement expansion in GCC

New capacity is expected to relieve chronic cement shortages in Saudi Arabia and stabilise prices

Chinese contractor Sinoma is set to start work on the US $578 million (SR2.2 billion) expansion of the Saudi Cement Company (SCC) Hofuf plant in Saudi Arabia — one of the largest cement projects in the world.

The new plant will help to relieve chronic cement shortages and price hikes experienced in the Kingdom over the last year.

The project will involve the construction of two complete new lines, with 10 000 tonnes of clinker capacity each.

“This is one of the world’s largest cement projects,” said Walid Al-Juffali, SCC chairman and managing director.

He added: “With construction activity advancing in the Kingdom and the high demand for cement both locally and regionally, the Saudi Cement Company had to increase its production capacity and also exploit its good reputation for marketing its production of various types of cements.”

Under the Hofuf expansion, two new production lines with an annual output capacity of 6.6 million metric tonnes will be added, increasing production by around 160%.

The company already exports cement to other GCC countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar. Until recently, the company exported around one third of its total cement production.

But spiralling demand in Saudi Arabia during 2004 and 2005 meant that most of this was consumed by the local market.

SCC operates two factories, in Hofuf and Ain Dar, approximately 35 km apart and about 130 km from King Abdulaziz Seaport in Dammam.

The company has 10 cement kilns with a total clinker capacity of 13 825 tonnes daily or 4.15 million tonnes annually. Both factories also operate nine cement mills.

“We presently produce ordinary portland cement (low alkali), sulphate resisting cement, and oil well cement,” added Juffali.

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