The stoppage of activity during the first fortnight of April, decreed by the Spanish government at the end of March, has resulted in a 59% decrease in cement consumption compared to April 2019. The little more than 79 thousand tons used in Catalonia represent the lowest monthly data since historical records are available, and places the accumulated figure for the first quarter at 566 thousand tons, 24% less than the same period of the previous year.
The stoppage of works and industries in early April is felt even more sharply in Production (reduction of 66%) and Exports (68% lower). With the accumulated data from 2020, the sector estimates that the fall in consumption could clearly exceed 10% in the year as a whole, provided that the return to normal is rapid and that investment policies in infrastructure are applied.
In opinion of Salvador Fernández Capo, president of Ciment Català, the recovery of the cement sector and the economy as a whole “will only be possible if public works tenders are resumed. Construction is the critical sector at the moment, since an increase in its activity can function as a locomotive for the rest of the productive sectors and save thousands of jobs now threatened by the pandemic health emergency”.
The cement industry employers consider that the exit from the Covid-19 crisis is also an opportunity to rethink and solve old structural problems, such as the fight against climate change, the implementation of the principles of the Circular Economy or competitiveness from the country. To achieve this, a catalog of investments would have to be deployed, ranging from facilities for producing renewable energy to infrastructures for sustainable mobility, including the development and extension of social housing and sanitary equipment. And without forgetting that works are still pending to recover from the effects of Hurricane Gloria and those necessary so that these damages do not recur in the future.