Cement Sector in Tunisia:
Vital Sector in Continuous Progress
Cement sector in Tunisia consists of six grey cement factories and one white cement plant.
The Tunisian cement industry is one of most structured industrial activities and is distributed on all national territory. The geographical locations of cement works considered, at the time of their establishment, several factors among which are vicinity to consumption centres, the well-balanced development of the country regions, and, in particular, the closeness of raw materials deposits and the availability of the necessary infrastructure.
Cement industry in Tunisia has a long history; the first factory (Les Ciments Artificiels Tunisiens) was established in 1936 in the southern suburb of the capital Tunis, and the second in 1953 in the region of Bizerte (Les Ciments de Bizerte).
In response to the development of the country and its economy, additional factories were founded. During the Seventies, two factories were set up, one in the South, near the city of Gabes (Les Ciments de Gabes), and the other to the North West of Tajerouine (Les Ciments d'Oum El Kélil); at the same time, Bizerte cement plant was expanded. During the Eighties, two other grey cement factories were established, one at Enfidha (Les Ciments d'Enfida), and the other at Jbel Oust (Les Ciments de Jbel Oust); in addition, a white cement factory was established at Fériana (SOTACIB), equally shared between Tunisia and Algeria.
Within the framework of market liberalization and in accordance with the government policy of disengagement from competitive activities, privatization of the sector's companies began in 1998. Due to attractiveness of cement sector, four grey cement factories and the only white cement plant were sold to international private groups between October 1998 and end 2005:
- Les Ciments Artificiels Tunisiens "CAT" to the Italian group "COLACEM",
- Les Ciments de Jbel Oust "CJO" to the Portuguese group "CIMPOR",
- Les Ciments d'Enfida "CE" to the Spanish group "UNILAND", which was later acquired by CEMENTOS PORTLAND Group within the global purchase of Group UNILAND.
- Les Ciments de Gabes "SCG" to the Portuguese group "SECIL",
- SOTACIB white cement factory, to the Spanish group "PRASA".
Taking the positive economic situation into account, several studies for the implementation of new cement factories are in progress with a view to guarantee supply for local market and meeting the increasing demand for exports.
With the investments implemented by public and private factories, total design production capacity increased from by 4.510 Mt of clinker in 1998 to around 6 Mt in 2006. Consequently, sales in the local market increased from 4.109 Mt of grey cement in 1998 to 5.835 Mt in 2006; that is, a growth rate exceeding 39%. As for the production of white cement clinker, it increased from 183,000t in 1998 to 337,000t in 2006; that is, an increase of about 84.5 %.
At present, cement factories, in all, encompass 10 production lines, which all use the dry process.
Besides raising production, the investments in the sector were directed to improving the performance of its production equipment. Most cement works adopted modern high-technology equipment, and the rest are going on with their modernization processes.
Local Sales and Exports
Cement sector proved its ability to adapt with the demands of local market and exports, and supplies to local market, which constitute priority of the sector, were met regularly.
Hence, during the period of the 10th plan (2002-2006), the sector achieved sales of 28.917 Mt of grey binders (cement + lime) and 651,000t of white cement. During the same period, the sector exported 3.735 Mt of grey cement and 878,000 t of white cement to European and Arab markets.
In accordance with the country’s orientations, energy saving, the diversification of its resources and the rationalization of its use were a continuous concern for cement sector, known as a major consumer of energy, forming an important part of its costs. Thus, efforts were exerted in this field to reconvert the Tunisian cement works to enable them to use alternative fuels according to their prices and availability on the market. Consequently, some cement plants established petcoke grinding units.
At present, three factories burn petcoke, namely SCG, CJO and CE; three cement works use natural gas, namely CAT, CIOK and SOTACIB. As for Bizerte cement works, it uses the heavy fuel oil No. 2 and is at present installing a petcoke and coal grinding unit.
Within the framework of optimization of energy consumption, cement works of the sector perform periodic energy audits, according to Law No. 50-87 of 13th January 1987. This resulted in investment programs under the contracts concluded between the National Agency of Energy Control (ANME) and concerned cement works.
Total investments that the sector achieved in the field of sustainable development concerning energy and preservation of raw materials exceeded TD 230 million during the period of the 10th plan. Planned investments for the 11th plan in this field exceed TD 307 million.
In the field of the use of renewable energy, the majority of cement works signed an agreement with the ANME for the realization of projects for generating electrical power from wind.
Quality Control System and ISO 9001 Certification
Tunisian cement works adhered to all the national quality programs, and they were the first to proceed to the implementation of quality control system on the national scale. This was in association with the National Institute for Standardization and Industrial Property (INNORPI) and in collaboration with international certifying organizations.
All the sector products are certified by the Tunisian Standard NT 47-01 (equivalent to the European standard EN 197-1) and most of them have the CE Mark. Moreover, cement factories had their ISO 9001 certifications by the INNORPI and other international certifying bodies.
The adoption of quality management systems allowed cement works to have a high level of controlling product quality on one hand, and assuring economic profitability, on the other.
Taking the impact of cement industry on the environment into account, cement factories proceeded, in collaboration with specialized institutions and organizations, to prepare studies and take the necessary procedures to control pollution by implementing projects for upgrading the existing dedusting systems and adopting the latest and most successful modern technologies to reduce pollution and its impact.
The investments of cement industry in this field exceeded TD 326 million during the period of the 10th plan.
Cement sector’s planned budget for sustainable development, during the period of the 11th plan (2007-2011), is TD 370 million among which TD 63 million is dedicated to environment protection and to the improvement of the quality of life.
All cement works signed assistance agreements for the implementation of ISO 14001 quality management system, and are working to obtain certifications for their systems during 2007.
Sustainable Development of Cement Industry
On February 23rd, 2007, the office of the Ministry of Commerce, Energy and Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) witnessed the signature of the Charter of Sustainable Development of the Tunisian Cement Industry by all cement works directors. This was with direct support and patronage of HE Minister of Commerce, Energy and SMEs and HE Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development.
This Charter aims at assuring a durable future for everybody, allowing future generations to live in healthy environment.
In compliance with the country’s orientations in the field of environment, cement plants proceeded to implement an initiative for environmental quality with a view to ensure sustainable development for the sector, combining economic profitability, environmental protection and social responsibility.
This charter included 11 commitments, among which are the integration of “sustainable development” concept into all activities of cement works and in their relations with other sectors, commitment to develop their environmental management systems according to ISO 14001, respect for all laws and regulations concerning environment, rationalization of natural resources consumption, the use of industrial waste within the possible limits and, in general, working for the improvement of environmental returns of plants. This would be through the application of latest technology for a better environment, ensuring employees and workers safety, improving working conditions, and continuous training of workers for involvement in sustainable development. Finally, the whole sector should contribute to economic and social development with a view to improve the Tunisian citizens’ quality of life.