Welcome back to INTERCEM’s dedicated news web page for cement industry executives.
During the necessary hiatus from face-to-face events across the globe, INTERCEM still wants to play our part in helping cement executives all around the world share best practice, and the latest market updates electronically. To do this, we are restarting the news service on our website and will also be using this platform for think pieces and analysis - all free of charge.
For 35 years INTERCEM has been bringing industry leaders together in destinations across the globe for face-to-face networking and presentations on the latest industry trends, market forecasts and technological developments presented by some of the most knowledgable, respected and internationally-recognised figures working both inside and outside the cement sector. INTERCEM meetings have been a go-to resource for a generation of cement industry leaders across the world providing insight, analysis and data to assist decision-makers in both their day-to-day work and their long term business planning.
Through boom and bust, trade wars, actual wars, crashes, crises, mergers, monopolies, globalisation, digitisation and much, much more, INTERCEM has assisted in the dissemination of information across the sector – no matter the size of your operation, market share, or background. On this news page, we will continue in this tradition, democratising information and inviting leading industry figures, including many of those familiar to regular conference attendees, the opportunity to share essays and ’Think Pieces’ on topics of importance to executives across the cement industry supply chain. As such, we would like to hear from you, your suggestions for content, or if you would like to contribute a news story or short article.
The COVID 19 pandemic has come at an already very difficult moment for the cement industry - with an overcapacity glut across many international markets - and it is likely to make a significant impact on the sector for some time to come. Without in any way acting in an anti-competitive manner, leaders of our industry need to share best practice information and support each other through these times. Through many different crises over the past 30 years, INTERCEM has been a place for us to do that face-to–face, and I hope that now with modern technology we can find ways to do this electronically.
Rising cement prices in several Chinese regions signal that the recovery in the sector is picking up pace, which could boost coal demand with the industry being a large-scale consumer.
An increase in economic activity has also pushed the combined daily coal consumption at key Chinese coastal utilities to its highest level in over two months as the country recovers slowly from the coronavirus outbreak.
More than 10 cement producers in northwest and east China have raised cement prices by 20-65 yuan/t ($2.80-9.15/t), with other regions expected to follow as infrastructure projects restart after the coronavirus outbreak. China's government is pushing for over 15,000 infrastructure projects to be restarted nationwide, which is expected to increase cement demand significantly by mid-April.
China's construction industry consumed 490mn t of coal in 2019, according to data from coal industry association CCTD, with the cement industry accounting for much of it. The cement sector revival could lift demand for Australian high-ash coal, which has faced sluggish Chinese demand in recent weeks because of reduced heating requirements and subdued economic activity. Chinese cement producers are seen as slightly less price sensitive than Chinese utilities when it comes to buying Australian coal.
Combined daily coal consumption from China's six key coastal utilities reached a fresh high at 616,700 t/d yesterday, the highest since 19 January and the first time it has risen above 600,000 t/d in more than two months after a few weeks of volatility at the start of March.
The easing of coronavirus emergency alert levels in China has paved the way for economic activity to resume and has helped to boost coal consumption. Residents in Hubei province's Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, will be released from a lockdown by 8 April.
But the recent pick-up in demand may take time to be reflected in China's domestic spot prices of thermal coal given current high stocks, with inventories at the key coal transhipment port of Qinhuangdao at 6.4mn t yesterday. Yesterday's bids for NAR 5,500 kcal/kg coal were around Yn541-545/t fob north China ports, with offers at Yn546-548/t. Argus last assessed this market at Yn549.50/t fob Qinhuangdao on 20 March.