JSW Cement plans to raise capacity without raising cost

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India: According to the Economic Times, JSW Cement plans to bring down its cement-making cost by as much as 75% by setting up grinding units closer to markets, in contrast to the traditional model of clinker units placed near the source of raw material.

According to the plan, the new units will use clinker imported from countries that have a surplus, thus allowing JSW Cement to add 1Mt/yr of capacity for about US$28.3m, compared to US$132m required to set up a similar capacity under the traditional model.

JSW Cement plans to establish several such grinding units on the country's east coast in West Bengal and Odisha, taking its cement capacity up to 20Mt/yr by 2020. "Our novel model involves setting up inexpensive grinding facilities closer to the markets rather than building cost-intensive clinker units closer to the raw material reserves," said Parth Jindal, son of group chairman Sajjan Jindal.

According to Anil Kumar Pillai, CEO at JSW Cement, typically 67% of cement capacity investment goes into clinkerisation and 33% goes into grinding. "We are investing 33% in grinding units. Hence, our balance sheet will be far leaner, service cost on interest will be far lower and our profitability ratio will be far better," said Pillai.

"Once our balance sheet gets strengthened with strong earnings profile to support large-scale investments, we will look at backward integration to acquire limestone reserves and set up clinkerising units," said Jindal.