Lafarge has launched a US$ 200 million project to renovate a cement plant in Iraq in a move to boost production and obtain a bigger share of the local market. The country currently imports about 10 million tpa and consumes about 15 million tpa.
Lafarge’s Chief Executive in Iraq, Marcel Cobuz, is reported to have said that revamping the 27 year old plant will help increase its output tenfold to 2 million tpa within two and a half years. He indicated that a lot of revamping is required and the plant’s dilapidated machines will either need rehabilitating or will be replaced by modern ones. The plant produces 200 000 tpa of cement. Cobuz recently toured the plant, which is located in the southern province of Kerbala, with Boris Boillon, the French ambassador to Iraq, who commented that the delay in forming a new government in Iraq after the March election had failed to provide an outright winner was not an obstacle for French companies interested in investing in Iraq.
Iraq wants to form joint ventures with foreign investors to overhaul some 240 idle factories around the country over the next five years. Many of the factories are either outdated, were looted in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion or are located in hostile areas. The country has multibillion-dollar oil deals in the pipeline, but analysts say it must grow its non-oil sectors if it is to have a viable economy and reduce unemployment. Iraq is opening up its financial and industrial sectors in its efforts to attract foreign investment and expertise to help it rebuild after years of violence and sanctions.
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