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Cement plant breakdown worries local contractors

A breakdown at a cement plant in eastern Colorado threw local contractors into a tizzy last week.The Portland cement plant in Florence was shut down last Tuesday and deliveries fell to no more than a trickle across the state. Colorado has only one other cement plant, in Lyons, owned by CEMEX.According to Tom Chizmadia, vice president for communications and public relations with Holcim (US) Inc., owner of the Portland plant, the cement kiln that heats limestone in the cement production process was taken offline because bricks that line the kiln came loose.Cement is one of the ingredients – with rock, sand and water – of concrete.”We anticipate (the plant) will be up (and working) this weekend,” Chizmadia said. Last week, Holcim’s customers did not receive their full orders of cement and were put on “allocation,” Chizmadia said. They received about 50 percent of what they ordered.The sharp drop off in supply had a few local contractors worried last week.Two, who would only speak anonymously, said the decreased supply would not hurt local projects such as the Glenwood Meadows shopping center or the roundabouts in West Glenwood if the plant shutdown didn’t last over 30 days. Any longer and it could significantly slow those projects.”Our intent is to get them supplied as fast as possible,” Chizmadia said.One contractor said the plant breakdown was not unexpected. Demand has increased exponentially worldwide, with economic development in Asian countries such as China. The few cement suppliers in the U.S. can’t keep up with demand, he said.Holcim (US) Inc., headquartered in Switzerland, is one of the world’s largest suppliers of cement. It has 11 cement plants in the United States. The Portland plant is one of the largest, producing almost two tons of cement a year, Chizmadia said.


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