The Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (CMAN) has raised alarm over the high inventory of clinker, which is semi processed cement, wasting away in their factories due to falling demand for the product. Clinker is the solid material produced by the cement kiln stage that has sintered into lumps or nodules.
It is ground, usually with the addition of a little gypsum (calcium sulfate dihydrate), to become Portland cement.
Executive Secretary of CMAN, Mr James Salako, disclosed to Vanguard in a telephone conversation, that about 1.5 million tonnes of clinker is wasting away in cement factories across the country as a result of decline in demand for cement.
According to him, the situation is taking a toll on the local manufacturers adding that they may be forced to close their factories if sales do not improve in the next three months, adding that many of the factories were now operating at less than 50 per cent of their installed capacity.
He said that the current situation, which is being experienced for the first time in the country, was pushing up the overhead costs in the factories, while putting the worth of the clinker lying wastage at N42 billion. “The high inventory will continue because we do not want to stop the klin equipment for now. Stopping the klin comes with huge challenges such and energy to fire the equipment back to a minimum of 1,400 degree centigrade its enormous.
“Under normal circumstance, the klin equipment is designed to work non-stop except during turn-around period, and we believe that the country could have been exporting cement to the international market if the industry was protected since inception in 1957.
It would have been another source of major revenue to the economy just like the oil and gas, but we missed the opportunity and neglected the sector with the discovery of oil.
We should support the Federal Government to enable the cement policy to work. Industrialisation is the only key to solving the teeming youths unemployment and under-development,” he said.
Salako urged Nigerians not to truncate the recent cement policy, but to give it a chance to succeed since it could lead the local industry into massive production that would benefit all and sundry.
Managing Director, Obajana Cement Plc, Mr Jagat Rattee, put the group clinker lying waste at about 800,000 tonnes saying that Obajana plant alone has over 300,000 tonnes of clinker that have taken over a space at the factory site, adding that local manufacturers have high inventory of clinker and cement in warehouses because of massive importation of cement and low sales from producing Factories because of low demand.
“Those that are canvassing for more importation of cement do not have the nation’s interest at heart.
The market has been saturated with cement and the local cement sector has enough to meet the nation’s demand.
spite of the fact that the Group pushes out about 1,000 trucks loaded with cement daily to various depots, we still have a lot. There is enough cement to meet demand,” he said.