The chronic lack of public works maintains the year-on-year consumption of cement in Catalonia at 2.1 million tons. Provisional statistical data collected at the end of February 2020 confirm the acute crisis in the sector, aggravated by the loss of competitiveness in international markets due to the costs of CO2 emission rights, the price of electricity and the lack of alternative fuels. Exports have fallen 23% in the last 12 months, with absolute figures of 1.8 million tons.
In an energy-intensive industry, the combination of all these negative factors has led Catalan factories to use less than half of their available operating capacity. Production plants can manufacture up to 7.2 million tons per year and currently barely produce 3.2 million tons, equivalent to 45%, with a marked downward trend (-9% during the first two months of 2020).
Furthermore, these data do not yet include the effects that the Covid-19 pandemic may have. The president of Ciment Català, Salvador Fernández Capo, considers that this situation “will cause a sharp drop in activity in the short term”. In this regard, the employer’s president recalls that the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism has assured that “the traffic of trucks of aggregates, cement and concrete is allowed, since the works to which these materials are transported and the transport to guarantee supply. The closure of the works is not mandatory, as this activity has not been expressly suspended”.
The Catalan cement industry, like other associations in the Construction sector, defends that the works in progress are maintained, reinforcing the inspections related to compliance with sanitary measures that guarantee complete safety for workers. Fernández Capo recalls that “the Catalan cement factories, for the moment, continue to work with the normality allowed by the Alarm State. The safety and health of our professionals is a priority for us, and protocols have been activated to guarantee working conditions safe for factory workers and teleworking modalities for most general service employees”.
“From Ciment Català we want to convey the sentiment of the cement industry to support all those affected by the pandemic and our intention to contribute in the best possible way to the social and economic reconstruction of the country”, he concludes.