Westport Discussions Being Held


A meeting held earlier this month between Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd and Council and Development Trust representatives is one of a range of West Coast groups Holcim is communicating with.

"We are talking with a lot of key people and organisations regarding options for retaining cement operations at Westport," said Paul Commons, General Manager, Strategy and Development, who is leading the company's project to explore its future cement supply options.

During the 8 August meeting, Holcim Chief Executive Jeremy Smith outlined to Mayor Martin Sawyers, Buller District Council Chief Executive Gary Murphy and West Coast Development Trust Chairman, Frank Dooley, the progress on three priority options Holcim is investigating, and addressed questions on factors that could support a decision favouring future cement operations at Westport.

Holcim has a work programme in place for one medium-term option and two long-term cement supply options. The medium-term option is continuation of the current Westport plant, with an appropriate maintenance programme and capital works programme, in combination with support imports on a bulk basis. These imports would be shipped direct to market terminals in contrast to the current method of importing cement in bulk bags. The two long-term options involve a new dry process plant either at Westport or at Weston, near Oamaru.

In another recent meeting with Labour MP Damien O'Connor, discussions focused on regional development, the importance of cement manufacture at a national level, and the decision making process Holcim would go through in determining which, if any, of the priority cement supply options would be pursued.

"As our investigations have progressed we have held discussions with Buller District Council regarding port development and community support initiatives, and with the West Coast Development Trust about additional coal resources and power generation and supply," said Paul Commons. "We have also talked with Buller Electricity Ltd regarding electricity supply, Meridian Energy re power generation, and Toll New Zealand regarding rail transport.

"Meetings are also being held with Westport staff to ensure they are well informed about the options we are exploring, and offering them the opportunity to provide any information or feedback relevant to our investigations prior to any decision being made."< /p>

Holcim is currently working towards narrowing its three priority cement supply options down to two. These two options will then be put to parent company Holcim Ltd for a decision, which is not expected before mid 2008.

For more information
Gerald Raymond
Phone 027 443-7253