Ship Decision Postponed

7 June 2007

A decision on a replacement for one of the two company-owned ships Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd uses to distribute cement throughout New Zealand has been postponed until mid 2009 at the latest to allow the company further time to determine how it will meet future growth in demand for cement.

Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd is exploring options to replace one of its two vessels, the MV Westport. A project team has been working on plans for a replacement self discharging bulk cement carrier which will have the capacity to deliver future cement requirements to Holcim depots throughout the country. A number of alternatives have been considered, and the team is now refining two designs, one for an 8,000 tonne vessel, and one for a 12,000 tonne vessel.

The postponement on determining which vessel will be built comes after Holcim announced recently that it was focusing future cement supply investigations on two long term options (a new cement plant in either Westport or Weston, near Oamaru) and one medium term cement supply option (continuation of the existing Westport plant with an appropriate maintenance and capital works programme, in combination with supporting imports on a bulk basis).

"Shipping is an important element in each of the cement supply options we are investigating, so it makes sense to allow more time for that decision to be made first so that we can choose the most appropriate vessel for the job," said Holcim CEO, Jeremy Smith.

Based on present lead times, a decision on ship design made by mid-2009 will allow for a replacement ship to be operational in 2012. A review of the scheduled repairs and maintenance program for the MV Westport will be undertaken by July this year to ensure her availability through to 2012.

"Until we have a decision on our Cement Supply Options Project, which is not expected before 2008 at the earliest, we will continue to develop and refine plans for both the 12,000 tonne and 8,000 tonne ship options in conjunction with our shipping team and the appointed naval architect", Jeremy Smith said.

"We will also continue to work with the relevant port authorities to get all necessary approvals in place for operating in New Zealand, and at the same time we will maintain a watching brief on the availability of marine engines and shipyard space."

Opportunities for bare boat chartering of a suitable ship will also be considered as a possible interim measure.

Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd is a leading New Zealand supplier of cement, aggregates, ready mixed concrete and lime. Its involvement in the New Zealand building industry dates back to 1888, and today it operates more than 35 sites and employs approximately 530 people. It is part of the Holcim Group, one of the world's leading suppliers of cement, aggregates and construction-related services represented in over 70 countries on all continents.