Cement Production, Consumption Slightly Increase in 2011

According to an advance release of the U.S. Geological Survey’s 2011 Minerals Yearbook, production of portland and masonry cement in the United States increased by 2.2 percent in 2011 to a total of 67.9 million metric tons (Mt). Monthly production was erratic overall, showing year-over-year gains of more than 10 percent in March, November and December, but declines or essentially stagnant outputs in the other months. While the 2011 output is welcomed as an improvement by the industry, it’s the third lowest since 1992 and was 31.4 Mt less than the record output in 2005.

As measured by sales to domestic final customers, U.S. consumption of cement increased by 2.6 percent to 72.3 Mt in 2011 after 5 years of consecutive declines; this was also the third lowest volume since 1992, and 55.7 Mt less than the record level in 2005. Only 16 states showed consumption declines of 1 percent or more in 2011; the largest decline was in Louisiana (down by 14.4 percent), which was likely due in part to severe rainfall from Tropical Storm Lee. Several states showed consumption gains of 10 percent or more; the largest relative increases were in the District of Columbia, a 63 percent increase; and North Dakota, up by 46 percent.

Although cement sales in 2011 rose only modestly, portland cement sales for the fourth quarter were up by 7.5 percent and, together with increases in housing starts late in the year and other economic indicators of recovery, it was anticipated that cement sales might increase by as much as 10 percent in 2012. A return to consumption levels similar to the record years of 2005 and 2006 were not expected for at least another decade and only if the housing market and tax revenues to states (and hence public sector construction) recovered substantially.

The report also stated that world production of cement increased 10.4 percent to 3.61 billion metric tons (Gt) in 2011. Given their recent rapid rise in production, Brazil, Iran, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam all appeared poised to possibly overtake the United States in cement output within the next five years.

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