Several Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd Board members and Executive took the opportunity to update Buller Mayor Martin Sawyers and Chief Executive Gary Murphy yesterday on the company's investigation of future cement supply options, and have indicated that further work on Westport options is being planned.
Holcim intends to lodge resource consent applications for a new plant at Weston, near Oamaru, as one of the options it is exploring.
"Once we have lodged these Weston applications, our focus will be on doing further work on the options for Westport, said General Manager Cement, Jeremy Smith. "In the discussion yesterday I outlined to Mr Sawyers and Mr Murphy that we will be developing a work programme for the Westport option, and will confirm this programme over the next few months. I've indicated to him that this work is initially likely to focus on geology, transport, and further work on engineering and energy supply options."
The work programme will build on work already started by Holcim, which includes exploratory drilling of potential mineral reserves at Westport Quarry, an engineering appraisal of the current Westport plant, and a shipping and logistics assessment.
"Two things are helping our Westport investigations", said Jeremy Smith. "One of these is our in-depth knowledge of the current operation and the environment. We have also been assisted by the business-like approach and the support shown by the Buller District Council over recent years. We appreciate the positive working relationship we have developed with Mr Sawyers and Mr Murphy."
Holcim is investigating several options to meet increased demand for cement in New Zealand in the long term. Alternatives being investigated are a range of upgrade options for the Westport plant; importing cement, either to supplement the Westport operation or total imports; a new plant at Weston near Oamaru; and the possibility of a new plant on one of several possible sites in the South Waikato/ King Country.
A final decision is not expected before 2008 and will be made by parent company, Holcim Ltd.