Speaking at the sidelines of MEED’s Cement and Concrete 2008 conference, the company’s managing director Efstathios Natsis said that the AED200m grinding facility will start commercial production from December.

The plant, which is being built by Austria’s Cemtec, will have capacity of 1 million tonnes a year (t/y) and will be fed with clinker imported from Asia.

Hamriyah Cement Company is a joint venture between local Bin Kamil Group and Greek contractor Terna, that was set up in response to the cement supply shortages in the GCC region during the past few years. The Sharjah plant will be its first asset.

“We suffered a lot of shortages this year in Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE, which has affected the construction part of our business and we have also suffered big increases in price,” said Natsis, who is also executive director for overseas business at Terna.

About 20-30% of the plant’s output will supply Terna’s projects, with the remainder sold on the open market.

Hamriyah Cement already has a license to build a 1.5 million-t/y fully-integrated clinker production unit at the same site, but the firm wants to gauge the strength of market demand before deciding whether to proceed with this second phase.

“We will test the water with this phase one operation, then we will decide how to continue our investment,” said Natsis.