Egypt's $1.1 billion cement plant in Beni Suef to start up in days

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BENI SUEF, Egypt (Reuters) - A $1.1 billion cement plant with six production lines in the Egyptian city of Beni Suef will start up within days, officials said on Wednesday, adding to nation’s bloated supplies.

Each production line will each produce 6,000 tonnes of cement per day, so total output will be 13 million tonnes a year. Construction began 18 months ago.

The project is starting up when Egypt already has excess cement capacity. As of 2017, the country had 79 million tonnes of annual capacity with consumption only 53 million tonnes, an official at a rival firm, who asked not to be named, said.

At least three cement firms reported losses for third quarter 2017 and national inventory is now 5 million tonnes, the official said.

The new plant, 120 km (75 miles) south of Cairo, is owned by El-Areesh Cement Co for Cement, which in turn is owned by the Egyptian armed forces.

The plant cost 900 million euros ($1.12 billion), said Wu Yong, vice president of engineering management at Sinoma 600970.SS, the Chinese firm responsible for mechanical works.

“It is the biggest plant to be built all at one time,” Wu told Reuters. “We haven’t had anything like it in China.”

He said other plants in the world produced more, but those had all been built in separate stages.

The Beni Suef plant produced its first clinker in December, while cement production would begin in about 10 days, another official working at the plant said.

Reporting by Patrick Werr and Amina Ismail; Editing by Edmund Blair