The cement industry is one of the oldest, most developed industries in Iraq and has the raw materials, technical expertise, and established local markets necessary for success.
Building materials merchant Mohammed Hazem, 65, said: “Demand for Iraqi cement is increasing among most citizens and state offices. Citizens trust Iraqi cement.”
Ali Salim Omar, Director General of the Public Building Materials Company of the Ministry of Industry and Mines, confirmed that “Iraqi cement is among the highest quality types in the region.” He noted that “demand for it is rising continuously.”
“The Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources relied on powdered Iraqi cement for the Hammam Al-Alil factory in filling the Mosul Dam after cement imported from Turkey and Iran for this purpose proved a failure,” Omar said.
There are 17 cement factories located throughout Iraq. They are managed by three companies: the Iraqi Public Company for Cement in Baghdad, with 4 factories; the Northern Public Company for Cement, with 6 factories; and the Southern Public Company for Cement, with 7 factories.
Company director Omar went on to say that “during the 1980s, Iraq was exporting to Turkey, the Gulf states, Singapore, and Yemen, but it turned into an importer from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, India, and Iran in the amount of over a half-billion dollars.”
The Ministry of Industry and Mines official noted that “the energy available at present in terms of electricity and fuel, together with security stabilization, can bring production to 4.6 million tons annually. With resumption of rehabilitation programs on hold for 20 years, it could reach 14m tons annually.”
Studies show that Iraq will need 25-30 million tons of cement annually during the next 10 years to meet domestic market demand, particularly with the increase in population growth, resolution of the housing crisis, and rehabilitation and construction projects. The Iraqi government has thus turned towards investment, especially after its adoption of free economic policies.
The minister noted that “announcements went out for 14 cement factories open for investment, rehabilitation, and development in a manner ensuring the rights of the state and investors. Last October, the Iraqi parliament passed the Iraqi Investment Law No. 13 of 2006, which includes organizational, rights, and legislative provisions for Iraqi and non-Iraqi investors as well as for the establishment and employment stage.”
Company director Omar believes that “investment is the best solution for developing and rehabilitating Iraqi cement factories and increasing production in accordance with conditions and regulations safeguarding the rights of the state and shareholders.” He called for using “all available ports for import and export of Iraqi goods.”
“At a Dubai conference, an investment contract for the Kirkuk and Al-Qaim factories was signed with Iraqi companies, in cooperation with global companies, for a period of 20 years, incumbent upon 20-30 percent of factory production going to the state,” Omar added.