Lafarge to Triple Cement Production at Karbala

Lafarge plans to triple cement production over the next two to three years at its plant in Karbala, according to Bloomberg.

Eric le Blan, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Lafarge's partner MerchantBridge, told the agency that production at Karbala would increase from 576,000 tons of cement per year to at least 1.8 million tons by 2013 or 2014.

Demand for building materials in Iraq is expected to increase dramatically as the country develops its infrastructure and build 2.5 million homes by 2015. Annual demand for cement in Iraq is about 20 million tons at present and is expected to rise to at least 35 million tons by 2015, versus current domestic production of about 5 million tons a year.

The company expects to start breaking even in January.

MerchantBridge completed a $220 million deal with Lafarge in 2010, the world’s biggest cement company, under which they took over the Karbala plant on a 15-year lease from the government. Production at the time was about 300,000 tons.

MerchantBridge plans to pursue additional investments in Iraq next year, including in the electricity market, where multibillion dollar projects are under way to help resolve power shortages, le Blan said.

(Source: Bloomberg)

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