The Trade & Industry Ministry has banned exports until October 1 in response to a shortage of cement in the local market. The temporary measure is expected to help ease further supply shortages over the summer months when a seasonal increase in demand is predicted.

In an attempt to meet local demand, Cairo issued licences for six greenfield cement plants and two expansion projects in October 2007. The government hopes to increase cement production by more than 20 million tonnes a year in the next five years.

The local El-Sewedy Cement Company, winner of one of the greenfield licences, recently awarded Denmark’s FLSmidth the engineering and machinery supplies contract for its plant in Ain Soukhna. The $95m contract is for the supply of all major machinery for the 5,000 tonnes a day cement plant. The equipment will be shipped in the first half of 2010.

Other greenfield licences were awarded to local companies Nile Valley Cement Company, Egypt Kuwait Holding, El-Nadha Industries and North Sinai Cement; and the UK’s Al-Arabiya al-Wataniya. Beni Suef Cement, a subsidiary of France’s Lafarge, and Mexico-based Cemex were both awarded licences to expand their existing plants.

In February 2007, the government introduced a $12 per tonne export duty on cement. This was raised to $16 a tonne in August due to increasing domestic demand.