Holcim prepares to dispatch the bulk of its GranCem slag business

Sources: CP staff; Lafarge Group, Paris

U.S. assets Lafarge Group and Holcim Ltd. are preparing to unload shortly after their proposed merger—on track to close in mid-2015, forming LafargeHolcim—include ground granulated blast furnace slag cement grinding facilities unusually strategic to dense population centers: Camden, N.J., 700,000 tons/year capacity, located on the Delaware River, overlooking Philadelphia; and, Chicago Skyway, 600,000 tons/year capacity, on a Lake Michigan inlet near the Illinois-Indiana border.

The Camden and Chicago Skyway plants, which finish the branded GranCem powder, plus four terminals in Illinois, Michigan and Massachusetts, are the Holcim (US) contributions to a package of assets Lafarge Group and Holcim Ltd. have negotiated with the Federal Trade Commission, which is charged with reviewing mergers’ effect on market concentration. FTC approval would weigh on U.S. operations of the merged LafargeHolcim.

The Lafarge North America portion of the asset package entails a Davenport, Iowa, cement plant and seven terminals along the Mississippi River. In a joint announcement on the U.S. asset package, Lafarge and Holcim noted an agreement with Summit Materials on the Iowa and Mississippi River assets.

No suitor was named for the Holcim (US) properties. Sale of the two slag cement mills would leave one GranCem operation: Birmingham, Ala., with about 500,000 tons/year capacity. LafargeHolcim would have upwards of 2 million tons of domestic slag cement capacity, based on the Birmingham output, plus Lafarge NA plants at Sparrows Point, Md., 1 million-plus tons/year, and South Chicago, 400,000-plus tons/year.

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