How has CEMEX evolved since setting up operations in the country?
CEMEX has been in Panama for 24 years and is today the leading company and point of reference in the cement and construction business here. We have grown with the country. Panama experienced significative changes when it took over control of the Panama Canal in the year 2000. Importantly, in 2005 we expected the country to continue its growth path, and, therefore, CEMEX made an investment of USD300 million on our operations here. CEMEX is the only clinker producer in Panama, which is the main raw material for the cement industry in the country. We are very proud to participate as suppliers in some of the largest and most emblematic infrastructure projects in the history of the nation: the Panama Canal Expansion project, the Panama Subway Line 1, and three other large projects that will have a positive effect on the development of the country and the quality of life of its people: the Panama Subway Line 2, the City of Colón Urban Renewal, and the first liquified natural gas electric generation plant in Central America, which is being constructed in Colón.
CEMEX is present in many countries in Latin America. How important is Panama to the company?
Panama is one of the most important countries for CEMEX worldwide in terms of business, volume, growth, and geographical position. We have invested in various business lines in Panama. We are the only clinker producer and are in the cement, concrete, ready-mix, and aggregate fields. In 2017, we also started in the cement additive—admixtures—business. In the last 24 years, CEMEX has invested around USD600 million in the country.
Can you elaborate on CEMEX's initiatives to be environmentally friendly in Panama?
We have a sustainability committee that meets once a month and is responsible for developing and guaranteeing the effectiveness of our programs and initiatives. We have several sustainability initiatives in progress here in Panama. First, we are part of the Million Hectares Alliance and are making a major effort to reforest more than 50ha of woods in 10 years. In addition to being part of this initiative, we are working extremely hard with the government and other private companies to help create a cleaner city by contributing to overcoming challenges such as waste management. We have the know-how to process and recover energy through our kilns from alternative fuels in a responsible way, such as municipal solid waste, tires, and biomass residues. In addition, we are making changes in our ready-mix plants to reuse water in different parts of our processes. We are also taking steps to rehabilitate our quarries once we finish using them. CEMEX shares best practices across all the countries the company works in. These projects are part of CEMEX's global green initiatives to reduce our CO2 footprint by 25% in the next three years.
What are the main challenges for the cement sector in Panama, and what needs to be changed in this market?
Our biggest challenge is maintaining the growth we have had in the last 10 years. The economic model of the country is changing, and this is a challenge for both the government and the private sector. The way people used to build is also changing, and this will affect our industry. CEMEX has been preparing for the challenges ahead, and one key initiative is CEMEX Go, which is a best-in-class digital platform aimed at providing a superior customer experience. CEMEX Go is a multi-device offering that provides a seamless experience for order placement, live tracking of shipments, and managing invoices and payments for CEMEX's main products, including bagged and bulk cement, ready-mix concrete, aggregates, and multi-products. It delivers real-time, detailed information that customers need to get more done in less time, enabling them to have more control over their businesses and increase value to their stakeholders.