President's Message

Facilitating the Sustainable Development of the Cement Industry

presidents message content

Keynote Speech given at the 3rd World Cement Conference & the 2nd Global Climate Change Forum

Song Zhiping, WCA President, CNBM Chairman and Party Secretary

Distinguished Chairman Gao Dengbang, Chairman Douglas Tong Hsu, dear guests and friends,

Good morning! This September marks the coming 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. In this pleasant season of autumn, we gather here in Shanghai for the 3rd World Cement Conference & the 2nd Global Climate Change Forum. First of all, on behalf of the World Cement Association, I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to all of you for being present here for this conference.

Today, I will cover three topics.

1. World Cement Association

The World Cement Association (WCA) was established in London in May 2016 more than three years ago. Over this time, WCA has experienced the transition from startup to stable development. As you know, setting up an international organisation is not easy. The cement industry is gigantic, but before WCA was established, the industry didn’t have such an organisation, different from other industries such as the automobile, steel and textile sectors, all of which have their dedicated global associations.

At the time, a handful of cement enterprises came together to set up WCA in London and asked me to serve as the first President. WCA now has 76 members in over 30 countries with members continuing to increase in number. Since its establishment, WCA is becoming known by increasingly more people, and this conference has attracted interest from a large number of organisations and cement enterprises.

Our original idea for the WCA was that it would be an organisation of cement manufacturers. Now, quite a few enterprises in engineering services and related sectors also hope to join for in-depth cooperation and information exchanges. I believe this is a good thing. At the board meeting held yesterday, I agreed that related enterprises in manufacturing, cement plant turnkey projects and services could join WCA and I hope that more and more manufacturers will join us.

Since its establishment, WCA has held several important meetings. The 1st and the 2nd World Cement Conference were held in London. Last June, we held the 1st WCA Global Climate Change Forum in Paris, France. Out of deep concern for climate change, many members joined the forum and we invited some experts and scholars to discuss climate change-related issues.

Moreover, WCA has conducted exchanges with some institutions in other sectors. This March, the World Bank located in Washington D.C., USA invited me in the capacity of WCA President for a speech to share how the cement industry is progressing with decarbonisation, and what efforts the industry has made to cope with climate change. I introduced the progress made by the global cement industry towards decarbonisation and some thoughts and propositions of the industry on global climate change, which were recognised by World Bank officials. In other words, the cement industry had its voice heard internationally through WCA and enabled more international organisations to understand the propositions and efforts of the cement industry with regards to sustainable development and climate change.

At the WCA Board Meeting held yesterday, some basic rules of WCA were laid down. I’d like to share with you what WCA does and what principles WCA respects. WCA follows four principles.

First, WCA is the original international cement association, with members coming from both developed and developing countries. Its focus on emerging economies is one of its key features. For instance, in some countries, cement enterprises have a limited capacity of only million tons per year, but they are, as equals, warmly welcomed to WCA. Regardless of the size of its members, WCA pays close attention to emerging markets in developing countries along the BRI route and cares about the development of enterprises in these countries. This is a major feature of WCA. Therefore, WCA is not merely a club for large players, but an organisation of global cement enterprises that pays attention to cement enterprises in emerging economies.

Second, all WCA corporate members have the same rights whether large or small, whether from emerging economies or development countries, which is very important. Members from emerging economies especially hope for equal rights, a sense of belonging and freedom to express their opinions. WCA is exactly such a platform, which offers opportunities to both magnate enterprises and SMEs in emerging economies for being heard.

Third, WCA offers practical services to help members improve their business through knowledge exchange and sharing of best practices. Along with the conference, a visit to Conch Cement is arranged to learn about its latest technologies and management experience, which is our service for our members. Meanwhile, WCA plans to set up an international cement lab and research center in the Hefei Cement Research & Design Institute to provide members with all-round technical services. Today, quite a few technical enterprises, equipment manufacturers and service providers are present, all hoping to render better services to members via the platform. We suggest that at the next conference, WCA shall arrange for a bigger exhibition to display the latest technologies, processes, equipment and materials, so that the members can see and learn. Serving our members and improving their businesses is one of the core tasks of WCA.

Fourth, WCA supports a sustainable cement industry and encourages technical development and other steps to achieve full decarbonization. This is one of our major tasks. As you know, the Paris Agreement sets strict limit for carbon emissions and this is where WCA needs make continuous efforts. With respect to carbon emissions, cement accounts for 7% of the entire industry and we shall pay great attention to carbon emission reductions across the industry.

2. Development and prospect of the World Cement Association

As I mentioned at the World Bank, cement has a development history of 200 years, very short compared to steel, which has a history of 2,500 years. However, without cement, it’s hard to imagine how our economic and social development will continue due to cement’s important and integral role in both. Though it’s not particularly highlighted sometimes, we cannot go without cement and emerging economies rely on cement for construction. Last year, around 4 billion tons of cement was sold globally, among which 2.2 billion tons were sold by China. This year, China’s cement sales are expected to increase by roughly 100 million tons. Cement is important, but not without its shortcomings: it emits carbon dioxide. Now, we are dedicated to saving energy and reducing emissions, and have done a large amount of work in this area.

3. Cement industry in China and CNBM

China, the world’s largest cement consumer, consumed 2.2 billion tons of cement last year, accounting for 55% of the world’s total. China is developing from a large power in cement to a great power, and the world’s centre for cement is gradually relocating from Europe to China. In terms of both technical equipment and manufacturing, China is a global rising star.

The cement industry in China is being transformed to high-end, intelligent, green and service-based development. Intelligent development is especially what the industry is working for. Regarding green development, you can see that the CNBM’s plants are “very green”. In the past, cement had a reputation with people as creating heavy smoke everywhere, but now, cement plants in China are beautiful “plants in the forest” and “plants on the grassland”. CNBM is both a major cement producer and an integrated cement provider.

It boasts 530 million tons of cement capacity and 430 million cubic metres of ready-mixed concrete, both the largest in the world. Meanwhile, CNBM provides services in global cement whole-set equipment projects and takes up a market share of 65%. It means that 65% cement plants worldwide are constructed by CNBM engineering companies, which is not an easy feat at all. It’s difficult to locate an enterprise with a global market share of higher than 50% in any industry.

As the old Chinese saying goes, “Food and fodder should go ahead of troops and horses”. CNBM built a large number of cement plants in the countries along the BRI route in the past six years. Today, in these countries, from erecting bridges to making roads, the course of urbanisation and industrialisation are partly constructed with cement and glass from plants built by CNBM.

CNBM cooperates widely with global engineering peers and Fives, FLSmidth, Schneider, Siemens and Mitsubishi are present at the conference. They have signed cooperation agreements with CNBM, which practices global procurement of equipment and tries to use more products made by international peers in pursuit of optimal quality and high value performance, rather than simply using products made in China. This is the attitude of CNBM. We seek cooperation for common development. In terms of cement plant turnkey projects, CNBM also joins hands with global equipment companies.

WCA has been in place for three years. As I have repeatedly mentioned, an association should be allowed time to develop and grow slowly, which can be seen from this conference in Shanghai. I’m convinced that with the joint efforts of all the members and with the support of everyone, WCA will realise extraordinary development.

Thank you again!