CONCRETE

Spain 2020 | INDUSTRY | B2B

While cement is often considered the foundation of modern societies, the industry also has the opportunity to provide more sustainable foundations for the future.

Joan Molins Amat
JOAN MOLINS AMAT
President
Cementos Molins
Isidoro Miranda
ISIDORO MIRANDA
Director General
LafargeHolcim Spain

How can the company and industry work towards sustainability and respecting the environment?
JOAN MOLINS AMAT Sustainability is key because regulations in many places around the world are shifting. Restoring quarries after they have been exploited is necessary to improve the environment, and we take this responsibility as an obligation. Aside from quarry restoration, we need to look into our own internal processes. When cement is manufactured, CO2 is produced and emitted into the atmosphere. As a company, we have taken many measures to keep our CO2 and dust emissions as low as possible. For example, we have filters that prevent dust production.

ISIDORO MIRANDA Cement is responsible for around 4% of carbon emissions during its production because of the heat we need to produce it, as well as the chemistry of the process. But housing and roads, among other things, represent up to 35% of emissions. We also have a role to play in that space by providing sustainable building solutions that reduce the CO2 footprint. We need to work together on a much larger scale with architects and construction companies to make sure it is possible to significantly reduce that 35%. On average, a house in Spain has an energy consumption of around 200kW per sqm per year. With the current techniques and products we use, it is possible to decrease that number by four times to around 50kW per sqm. That will have a positive impact on carbon emissions as well as on customers' utility bills.

What are the keys to present and future growth?
JMA After the 1970s, the industry increased its growth capacity, but the market contracted. For that reason, in the 1980s, we exported around 70% of the cement we produced. These exports opened the doors to the world for us. We realized that exporting to Argentina was complicated, so in the 1980s we bought a company in Argentina called Cementos Avellaneda. We have implemented the same strategy in other countries. Throughout the years, we have added other products such as mortars, concrete, and pre-manufactured products. At present, our international business represents 70% of our revenue, whereas Spain represents 20%. In Spain, public investment is low, which negatively affects the entire construction sector. We are reaching the same level of turnover as 2019, which is due to changes in countries. For example, our business in Mexico has slowed down, but, simultaneously, we have grown in Spain. Our main concern is for Barcelona to maintain its growth rate. We have participated in private construction projects, including a few projects for Amazon with our pre-manufactured division, Precon.

IM LafargeHolcim Spain is the result of the centenary presence of two groups in the Catalonian, Levant, Central Spain, and Andalusian markets. In these areas, our offer is well-differentiated from our competitors, not only because the quality of our products, but their innovation. And we are quickly and significantly growing our sustainable solutions offer. All these moves have led to an increasing trust from our customers. We are positioning ourselves to develop Spain for the 21st century through projects such as the BBVA building. We launched our LafargeHolcim Spain Green Book to offer products that help our customer qualify their buildings in terms of sustainable and environmental performance. It is a shame that over 90% of the housing stock in Spain is thermally inefficient. Building for growth, our group strategy, will bring growth by continuing to push forward our premium range of solution families, such as Agilia, the self-levelling concrete and mortars; Artevia, our decorative concrete; Hydromedia, our draining concrete; and Infinicem, our micro-cement for high performance applications. All these products are quickly gaining a significant weight in the residential building market in Spain. We are also focused on simplifying our organization and strengthening our results through new techniques in our operations.