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Editorial comment

Last month Dallas played host to the 58th IEEE-IAS/PCA Cement Industry Technical Conference at the Gaylord Texan Resort Convention Centre. The event took place over five days and attracted close to 1000 delegates from across the globe.

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The exhibition opened on Sunday night, running through to Tuesday, and featured 176 booths presenting the very latest technology and ideas from the industry. Wednesday continued with presentations on everything from sustainability to power generation and automation. The conference concluded on Thursday with a plant tour of Ash Grove Cement’s Midlothian plant. Something not even the unfortunate weather could dampen. A series of tutorials and professional training sessions also took place throughout the event.

World Cement was ever present from start to finish and the whole team really enjoyed all that Texas had to offer. Located at booth 616, the team relished the opportunity to engage with delegates, put faces to names, and discuss the development and future of the industry.

The highly anticipated address from the PCA’s executive Vice-President and Chief Economist, Ed Sullivan, provided much of the fuel for industry speculation. Speaking in front of a packed-out ballroom, Sullivan went some way to quashing recession rumours in the US. He did however predict cement demand growth rates of 3.5 – 4.5% in the US, a figure somewhat lower than in the previous year’s more upbeat speech.

On the other side of the Atlantic, LafargeHolcim recently reported their 1Q16 results. In line with Sullivan’s address, the global superpower has outlined how they expect slow growth despite challenging economic headwinds. Eric Olsen, CEO of LafargeHolcim commented: “The first quarter is not indicative of our full year performance. We are on track with our plan and we see favourable underlying trends. I am confident that 2016 will mark sound progress towards reaching our 2018 objectives and we expect to deliver at least a high single digit like-for-like increase in adjusted operating EBITDA for the year.”

In the full report, LafargeHolcim have reconfirmed their commitment to meeting their 2018 targets outlined in November, despite challenging conditions in a limited number of markets. Nigeria, Brazil and India accounted for much of the operating declines in comparison with 1Q15. Mirroring much of what Sullivan reported back in Dallas, LafargeHolcim’s account does not paint an entirely rosey picture for the cement industry, but is far from doom and gloom. Whilst neither report predicts considerable growth within the industry, both detail how there are enough positive signs to be optimistic for a brighter few years ahead.

We would love to hear your comments and predictions for the future of the industry. Please contact us with your thoughts.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this issue and would like to express my thanks to all those people who sent in their contributions. I’d also like to thank those who worked so hard to put together a fantastic conference in Dallas. As the conference moves on once again, we at World Cement look forward to another year of attendance. Roll on Calgary 2017!