Expectations are high as commodities conglomerate BUA Group counts down to full commercial production of over 3 million metric tonnes per annum of cement at its newly-built $600 million Obu Cement plant in Okpella, Edo State with clinker production already in full swing.
At the current rate, it is expected that cement dispatch to various markets will commence in the first week of August.
Speaking on the new plant, BUA Group Chairman/CEO, Abdulsamad Rabiu, said the company’s three-year journey in constructing the plant would give a much-needed boost to Nigeria’s cement industry as well as enhance the development of related sectors including housing and construction.
“The Obu Cement plant, which is about 5 kilometres away from Edo Cement Company, is 100 per cent owned by the BUA Group. The Edo Cement plant, which has a capacity of 500,000 tonnes/annum is also being rehabilitated and would be receiving clinker from the Obu Cement plant before being fully rehabilitated.
“The two plants would be rolling out about 3.5 million tonnes/annum of cement. Asides from the initial cost of over $500 million in Obu Cement, we have also invested over $100 million in gas turbines to power a 50MW plant for 24-hour electricity generation as well as the construction of a 30 kilometre gas supply pipeline,” he elaborated.
The Obu Cement plant was supplied by the world-renowned European cement equipment suppliers – FL Smidth of Denmark – while the civil construction was handled by the mega construction firm, Julius Berger.
According to Rabiu, this combination from two leading companies in cement equipment and construction services has given birth to one of the finest cement plants in the world.
Rabiu further added that the plant’s location in Edo State makes it a strategic point for markets in the North and South-south of the country.
“Essentially we are 200 metres to the highway linking Okene, Kogi State and Benin, Edo State which will guarantee adequate distribution of products,” he said.
He also revealed that an estimated 250 to 300 trailers of cement would be delivered to markets across the regions daily once the Obu plant kicks off full commercial operations.
A statement from the company yesterday said that the Obu Cement Plant currently manufactures cement straight from limestone, receiving 9,000 tonnes of limestone and clay each day for its large-scale operations, which will provide over 1,500 direct jobs, a situation which means the company has also had to factor in employees’ pressing needs.
“We have constructed a housing estate for most of our workers and are still building, to ensure they have access to decent accommodation,” Rabiu explained.
The wider Okpella community and its environs, he said, is also expected to benefit from a new medical facility and an administrative block for the community’s youth centre, while the roads being built to and from the quarries would also serve residents.
To enable stable power supply, a 30-kilometre gas pipeline has been built, with compensation paid to all three host communities, he added.
“As far back as April 2014, BUA Group signed a gas sales and purchase agreement with the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), which will guarantee the supply of about 0.9 million stand cubic feet of gas/day to the Obu plant. However, liquid fuels will also be used as a backup, to ensure production around the clock,” he said.
The group chairman, in the statement, said the soon-to-be-launched Obu plant is equipped with cutting-edge facilities, with the capacity to produce all three grades of cement, as allowed by the Nigerian Industrial Standards and backed by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).
These are the 32.5, 42.5 and 52.5 grades.
When asked what steps BUA Group was taking to ensure compliance, Rabiu said the organisation had observed due diligence in this regard.
He added that the group welcomed these requirements, as customers would not be shortchanged and Nigeria’s cement industry would be operating at world-class standards.
“In total, the investment has so far gulped over $600 million but no cost is to be spared if we are to build lasting solutions to enhance Nigeria’s self sufficiency in cement production,” he added.
In addition to the Obu Cement plant, BUA Group’s other investment in the cement industry include the Cement Company of Northern Nigeria Plc and Edo Cement Company Ltd. The official commissioning ceremony for the new Obu Cement Plant is planned for the third quarter of 2015.
Established in 1988, BUA Group has over the years grown steadily to become one of Nigeria’s largest food and infrastructure conglomerates with investments in sugar, cement, agribusiness, flour and pasta, rice, edible oils, real estate and port operations.