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In every issue of World Cement we try to feature a particular growth region or country, to highlight the most interesting areas for cement manufacturing and innovation. In the majority of cases, those are emerging markets. Last month we covered Southeast Asia, next month it’s Africa and the Middle East, and throughout the rest of the year we’re looking at India, Latin America, Turkey, and so on. This month is our annual exception to the rule, when we look particularly at the cement industry in North America to coincide with the IEEE-IAS/PCA Conference, the biggest cement conference in the Western Hemisphere.

For many years North America couldn’t be considered a growth market. The US in particular was downright depressed, as the cement industry felt the full force of the recession. Things have picked up considerably in the last year or so, though, and it’s exciting to know that we’ll be distributing this issue at an event filled with optimism and positivity. Figures from the PCA show that cement consumption was up ~8% in 2014 and similar rises are expected this year and for the next few years. Volatile winter weather makes it hard to get a good picture of consumption this early in the year, and the impact of falling oil prices on construction spending is also difficult to gauge, but the overall outlook is good.

In the 12 months since last year’s conference there have been increasing reports of spending in the US cement industry on expansion projects and modernisation. Yes, some of these decisions have been necessary due to forthcoming compliance deadlines, but in some cases cement producers have looked at the work that needs doing and decided to kill two birds with one stone – modernise and expand. There were even reports last month of a mothballed plant reopening due to increased demand – a good sign indeed. Could it be that greenfield projects are on the horizon? Maybe – Canada already has one underway.

Though much of this issue is devoted to North American technical expertise, we also cover some really interesting environmental topics, including a solar project in the UK and alternative fuels in Colombia. This is in addition to a health and safety feature that we would, of course, encourage everyone to read. In the interview on page 110 with Rafael Menéndez-Abascal from Lafarge Spain we are reminded that health and safety is like a bicycle – you have to keep pedalling or you fall off. For Lafarge Spain, health and safety isn’t budgeted separately or treated as another box to tick; it’s considered a ‘core human value’, like loyalty or respect. It’s a message worth sharing.

Of course if you’re interested in sharing, then social media is the place to be. Tweet us your updates and pictures from the IEEE-IAS/PCA Conference to @World_Cement using #IEEECement and we will share them with our more than 5000 followers! And if you’re at the show, come and see us in person at booth 211.