India: Wonder Cement has ordered its eighth vertical roller mill from Germany-based Gebr. Pfeiffer. A MPS 3070 BK type mill has been selected for grinding petroleum coke and coal. The throughput rate for pure petcoke grinding will be 40t/hr with a product fineness of 2% R 90m. The mill will be equipped with an SLS 2900 BK type classifier. Due to the high abrasiveness of Indian coal, the mill and classifier will be designed with a correspondingly robust wear protection. The new mill will support the fourth 8000t/day production line at the producers plant at Tehsil Nimbahera, Chittorgarh in Rajasthan.
Most of the components of the coal mill will be manufactured by Gebr. Pfeiffer India including the housing and foundation parts, the grinding bowl and a large part of the force-transmitting parts. Delivery of the mill is scheduled for the end of 2021. Commissioning of the entire kiln line with the new grinding plant is scheduled for spring 2022.
Another week and its another commodity story related to the effects of coronavirus. This time the Indian press and financial analysts have started to notice a shift in the fuel mix of some of the major producers from petcoke to coal. UltraTech Cement moved to 30% petcoke and 60% imported coal in the fourth quarter of its 2021 financial year that ended on 31 March 2021. This compares to a reported mix of 77% and 10% in the previous year according to Mint. Dalmia Bharat reduced its share of petcoke to 52% in the fourth quarter from 70% in the third quarter, while its coal mix was 35 - 40% in the fourth quarter.
Price is the driver here. UltraTech Cements chief financial officer Atul Daga summed the situation up in an earnings call in late January 2021. Essentially, he said that fuel represented about 13% of total costs for cement producers in India and that both the cost of coal and petcoke nearly doubled from June 2020 to January 2021. However, coal is seen as the cheaper option, hence the move towards it in the fuels mix ratio. The petcoke market meanwhile has suffered due to reduced oil refinery output due to, you guessed it, the effect of coronavirus on global markets in 2020. Scarcity in the US market has particularly affected the decisions on buyers for Indian cement companies since this is the key source of their imports. Demand for petcoke from Latin America and the Mediterranean hasnt helped either. Both petcoke and coal markets are expected to stabilise in the second half of 2021. Diesel prices have also risen recently causing UltraTech Cements power and fuel costs to increase by 28% year-on-year to US$356m and logistics costs, including freight expenses, to rise by 25% to US$449m in the fourth quarter of its 2021 financial year.
With this in mind its interesting then, that for some analysts at least, fuel prices have been seen as more worrying for cement producer profits than the latest round of coronavirus-related lockdowns from Indias second wave of infection. Fitch Ratings for example, warned that the impact of mounting fuel costs would continue to be seen in the quarter to June 2021 but that it would subside due to the switch in fuel mix and price rises passed to end consumers. On the lockdowns, it forecast that localised restrictions, with cement plants being allowed to continue operating in most states, would cause a far less pronounced drop in cement demand than during the first national lockdown.
Graph 1 above shows that the crisis the Indian cement sector faced during the first lockdown, when production crumbled by 85% year-on-year to 4.3Mt in April 2020. The following recovery saw production reach its second highest ever figure at 32.9Mt in March 2021. Its too soon to tell whats happening from the national figure but that dip in April 2021 is not looking good so far.
One benefit from unstable fuel prices is that it builds the economic case for cement producers to raise their alternative fuels substitution rates. UltraTech Cement, for example, reported that its green energy rate grew to 13% in its 2021 financial year from 11% in 2020. With a target of 34% by its 2024 financial year, this is an ideal opportunity for a change for both UltraTech Cement and other producers.
India: Cement producers reduced the proportion of coal in their fuel mixes during the fourth quarter of the local 2021 financial year. Ramco Cements petcoke use was 41% in the 2021 financial year compared to 48% in the 2020 financial year, according to Mint News. Dalmia Bharat subsidiary Dalmia Cement used 52% petcoke in its cement fuel in the fourth quarter of the 2021 financial year, which ended on 31 March 2021, compared to 70% in the years third quarter. In the same comparison periods, Aditya Birla subsidiary UltraTech Cement reduced its petcoke share to 30% from 77%. It replaced the fuel with 60% coal, compared to 10% in the third quarter of the 2021 financial year.
Petcoke prices more than doubled year-on-year to US$130/t in the fourth quarter of the 2021 financial year, leading cement producers to switch fuels. Coal prices have resultantly risen by 82% to US$100/t. Producers rely on imports for both commodities.
Cuba: Cementos Cienfuegos Carlos Marx cement plant in Guabairo resumed production in late May 2021. Production had been suspended since 14 January 2021 due to a lack of petcoke, according to the Sierra Maestra newspaper. Fuel suppliers had been affected by a fuel shortage created by US trade sanctions. Despite the enforced shutdown the plant intends to meet its production target for 2021.
US: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has approved a request by Holcim US to use more petcoke at its integrated Midlothian plant. Local health and environmental campaigners had hoped to challenge the decision at a meeting in late March 2021, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper. The changes will enable the company, part of Switzerland-based LafargeHolcim, to more than double the plants carbon monoxide (CO) emissions to 7000t/yr. 35 local residents submitted requests for a hearing to query the application. Holcim US was identified from state data as the leading emitter of industrial pollutants in North Texas in 2019.
India: Germany-based Gebr. Pfeiffer has won a contract to supply a vertical roller mill for grinding coal to Deccan Cements Bhavanipuram cement plant in Andhra Pradesh. Gebr. Pfeiffer India will be responsible for processing the order and supervising production and installation at the plants 3500t/day kiln line. The mill will be the companys second from the supplier. It chose an MPS 250 BK mill, which can also grind petcoke or a mixture of coal and petcoke. Commissioning is scheduled for before mid-June 2022.
India: UltraTechs 3.2Mt/yr integrated Rajashree plant in Aditya Nagar, Karnataka received its first petcoke delivery by rail, dispatched from Mangalore Refinery Private Limited (MRPL)s new mechanised handling facility. The installation cost US$23.4m and can load 3600t of coke at a time into 59 cars, enabling it to process MRPLs refinerys 1.0Mt/yr quickly and in a way that reduces the load on road transport.
Egypt: Arabian Cement has signed a 0.3Mt/yr petcoke supply deal with the Egyptian Refining Company. Sergio Alcantarilla, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Arabian Cement said that the agreement was part of the companys plans to reduce its production costs and improve operational performance by diversifying its energy sources, according to the Daily News Egypt newspaper. The company operates a 5Mt/yr integrated cement plant at Ain Sokhna in the Suez Governorate.
India/Singapore: Shree Cement has closed down Shree Global, its subsidiary in Singapore. It said it had struck the company off the Registrar of Companies in early March 2019. Previously, the cement producer said that the subsidiary was being used to trade coal, petcoke, minerals, bags and other commodities.
India: JK Lakshmi improved its fuel consumption to 702kCal/kg of clinker in the October December 2018 quarter from 705kCal/kg of clinker in the same period in 2017. Its revenue rose by 3.5% year-on-year to US$380m in the nine months to 31 December 2018 from US$368m in the same period in 2017. Its earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell by 8% to US$45.4m from US$49.4m. The company said that it had been facing pressure from increased petcoke and diesel prices. It also said that a 20MW thermal power plant and its Orissa grinding plant project were on schedule and are expected to be commissioned by March 2019.Get in Touch with Mechanic