(Business in Cameroon) - Cimenteries du Cameroun (Cimencam), a local subsidiary of the LafargeHolcim Maroc Afrique group (55%), intends to introduce a new cement production technique in the country. The goal is to limit the massive and costly imports of clinker by using marble powder in cement production.
This plan was at the heart of a mining agreement signed between the State of Cameroon and Cimencam, concerning the exploitation of Bidzar marble, a deposit located in the northern region. Describing the economic stakes in the mining agreement for the Bidzar project, the government reveals that "Considering the consistent increase in clinker imports through Douala port over the past decade, this project is geared towards boosting Cimencam SA's cement production by using the extracted marble. It will also play a vital role in improving Cameroon's trade balance. Furthermore, starting this project will increase the production capacity of other industries that rely on marble as a key material for cement, encouraging their establishment in Cameroon."
In simpler terms, the Cameroonian government supports granting Cimencam a mining permit for Bidzar marble. This decision is based on two main factors: Firstly, the project enables the company to use marble instead of clinker in cement production. Secondly, it aims to attract more investors to Cameroon through this mining opportunity, as it reduces the need for expensive clinker imports.
Lower Cement Prices
In the wake of numerous cement plants established in Cameroon since 2015, such as Dangote Cement, Cimaf, Medcem, and Mira Company, clinker imports have surged in the country. For instance, the Port Authority of Kribi (PAK) reported that clinker imports made up 81% of import traffic and 54% of total traffic at the multipurpose terminal in 2022.
By substituting locally-produced marble for clinker, a method considered to be less environmentally harmful, the goal is to decrease imports of this material, which places a strain on the country's trade balance each year. Importantly, substituting marble for clinker is expected to reduce production costs for cement plants and, as a result, lead to a drop in the price of the final product for consumers.
However, despite the surge in cement plant construction in Cameroon over the past decade, the price of a 50 kg bag of cement remains relatively higher compared to other countries with a similar level of development. Both producers and the government have attributed this situation to the increased production costs resulting from clinker imports. The government has even accused cement manufacturers of engaging in illicit price-fixing practices.
The Bidzar marble deposit, set to assist Cimencam in reducing or eliminating clinker imports, is officially estimated to have a production potential of 16.7 million tons. As per the details outlined in the mining agreement, this translates to an operational lifespan of 25 years, with an average annual marble production of 668,301 tons.