Between 2019 and 2024, the total volume of sea-based traded cementitious materials is forecast to reach almost 180 million tons, according to CW Research’s 2019 update of the World Cement, Clinker & Slag Sea-Based Trade Report.
The fall in China’s domestic cement production, under pressure from environmental restrictions, has increased the market’s need for imports, with a significant impact on overall seaborne trading.
“The internal dynamics of the Chinese cement market, unequivocally tilted towards capacity reduction and limits on production by environmental concerns, are behind the surge in clinker imports, accentuating the shift from gray cement to clinker exports as the main driver of sea-borne trade of cementitious products”, notes Carolina Pereira, Business Analyst at CW Group.
Clinker leads seaborne trade
Compared to 2017, the global trade of cementitious materials rose to over 150 million tons in 2018. As projected in CW Research’s previous forecast, clinker, including both gray and white, replaced gray cement as the most traded cementitious commodity by sea, accounting for over 40 percent of the total sea-based cementitious trade in 2018.
Over the same period, gray cement came in second place, with almost 60 million tons traded by sea, followed by ground blast furnace slag. White cement and fly ash accounted for a much smaller portion of the global seaborne cementitious trade, with a combined slice inferior to five percent of total.
The largest volume of cementitious materials is traded in South-East Asia and in Asia Pacific, where the total cargo moved in 2018 is estimated at 70 million tons, out of which both gray and white clinker beat gray cement by a comfortable margin. Asia’s key trade factors include its highly competitive prices and a strong economic development, which favor trade to countries where cement is in short supply.
Regarding transportation preferences, cementitious materials shipped in bulk continue to make up the largest share of sea-based trade, despite the increased preference for big bags. Nevertheless, bagged cement shipments continue to represent an important segment of the total sea-based trade.
Asia fronts new cement carrier additions
There are currently more than 360 cement carriers used for seaborne distribution of cementitious materials, with an average age of 26 years. Solid demand in Asia has contributed to a turnaround in the market and investors’ confidence, and interest in new vessels and conversions has been increasing. Therefore, most of the newly added vessels found their place in markets such as Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, etc.
When looking at market shares of large cement companies by cargos moved, LafargeHolcim, HC Trading and Cemex control almost 30 percent of the market.
At the global level, there are almost 800 cement terminals, more than 150 waterside grinding plants (slag and clinker), and almost 100 waterside integrated cement plants. Most of the cement terminals at the global level are located in Far East Asia, followed by Europe.
CW Group's World Cement, Clinker & Slag Sea-based Trade Report provides an in-depth and data-oriented analysis of trade-related development, historical trade flows and prices, and changes in exports and imports during the past years from a regional perspective, with a focus on key markets. The report also projects key cement and clinker supply-demand gaps that will sustain world cement trading for the next few years. Key exporters, their facilities, and traders are profiled, as well as key ocean-going cement carrier operations and their vessels. Examined trade flows include gray cement, clinker, white cement, and slag, as well as a discussion of fly ash trade, in bag, big-bag, or bulk form. The report projects main flows through 2024 expected to be shipped by ocean going vessels and includes prevailing cement trade prices and bulk/dry cargo shipping rates.
Find out more about the report here