Cement industry of the post-Soviet countries today: an insider’s view

According to the tradition dating back to 2002, each issue of the Cement and its Applications journal published to mark the next regular Petrocem Conference includes a selection materials supplied by cement producers that cover their companies’ state of affairs and plans. Over that period there have been both sweeping and resolute changes, as well as crisis phenomena. This year we still face a crisis situation and this is the right time to sum up intermediate results of the intensive modernisation drive in the cement industry over the last seven years, which substantially affects the potential for further upgrades of the production capacities. The annual capacity of modern production lines in Russia is about 30 million tons, the difficulties encountered during the development of the capacity are largely overcome, and most of the lines have reached the design capacity.
The new production lines have a proven higher competitiveness compared to the wet process lines, primarily due to the twofold reduction of fuel consumption. During the crisis, the cement consumption fell by 10% overall in 2015, but its shipments from the new lines increased by 12%. If in 2014 the utilization of wet process lines and the new lines was, respectively, 72 and 73%, then in 2015, it dropped to 57% for the wet process, while for the new lines it was 75%. Thus, the advantage of the modern dry process line became especially manifest in the critical situation.
The requirements to the concrete and the structures built with it are closely related to the cement quality. Therefore, it is advisable that all changes in the quality of the cement and the requirements for structures of concrete were harmonized and synchronized. This applies to the new regulations, and the new developments of the manufacturers. If the classification and indicators of quality change in the standards for cement, then the documents regulating the use of this particular cement by the builder for a certain concrete should also be changed.
The average percentage of mineral additives in the cement in Russia is only 13%, while even the design capacity of the cement line is usually estimated taking into account 20% of additives. For some applications, cements with active additives have advantages over additive-free cements. Reducing the amount of clinker in the finished product is an effective way to reduce the energy consumption of cement production. Expanding the use of cements with mineral additives is what should be done in cooperation with the concrete makers.
Many companies invest in their own generating capacities and fleets of cement trucks. Road haulage is preferred even when the distance is as long as 400 km. It appears that these costs are economically viable, indicating that the Russian Railways and electricity suppliers offer very high tariffs.
The situation at the cement companies of other post-Soviet countries is covered in more detail in the materials published in this section.

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