The country's seven existing cement plants continue to run at just 50 per cent of total capacity, resulting in demand severely outstripping supply, a senior industry official told the MEED Middle East Cement conference held in Dubai in late June. 'Our company utilises about 80 per cent [of capacity] and we expect it to reach about 85 per cent by the end of 2005, but it continues to be a problem elsewhere,' said Arabian Cement Company (ACC)chairman Rahab Elmahmoudi (MEED 11:2:05).
The country has design capacity to produce about 6.3 million tonnes a year (t/y), with current demand levels reaching 5 million t/y. However, according to Elmahmoudi, the quality of cement produced is often mixed and most plants only produce at half their existing capacity. Cement demand by 2010 is expected to rise to 8.5 million t/y. 'We are looking for partners in operating the plants and improving their efficiency,' said Elmahmoudi. The government has attempted to reform the sector over the last year. In February, the initial public offering (IPO) of shares in ACC was launched with a view to attracting local and international investors, while state-owned cement producer Libyan Cement Companyis also seeking foreign investment. Plans are also moving ahead for several expansions and new facilities. Arab Union Construction Company (AUCC)will see production at its first facility in Zliten begin in August. The plant will have capacity of 1.2 million t/y. Denmark's FL Smidthis carrying out the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract. India's SSBILis completing the civil construction package and Egypt's Orascom Construction Industries (OCI)is supplying and erecting steel structures and carrying out electro-mechanical works. AUCC is carrying out a feasibility study for a new 1.4 million-t/y production line in Zliten, while ACC is also looking to add 1 million t/y of capacity to its existing plant in Zliten by 2007.