Cement Industry relatively a fast growing industry, is developing in pace with increasing building and construction activities. Cement has long been used as a bonding agent to unite particles or to cause one surface to adhere to another. The most common form of cement, Portland cement, is a powder obtained from burning together a mixture of crushed limestone and clay and obtained clinker, which then grinded and added with 5% gypsum or fly ash. The cement when mixed with water and sand or gravel, turns into mortar or concrete. Now (2010) the amount of cement annually consumed in the country is about 15 million tonne, which is internally produced. Cement consumption rose almost three times higher in last ten years. The demand forecast for cement suggest expansion at a rate of 8% percent as the major construction projects like Padma multipurpose bridge, elevated expressway and other road and building projects are under implementation plans in the near future. Real Estate companies and individuals are important consumers of cement and during insignificant government project financing they remain the main consumers in the country. Bangladesh has become a surplus cement producing country and now exports part of its produced cement to neighboring eastern Indian states and to Myanmar. Per capita cement consumption in 1999 in the country was only 22 kg per year which reached over 65 kg in 2009. Still the per capita cement consumption in Bangladesh is fairly low compared to India (150 kg), Myanmar (73 kg), Indonesia (127 kg), Malaysia (529 kg) and Thailand (425 kg).
Historically, Bangladesh did not depend much on cement. It also did not have enough natural resources for manufacturing it. The base materials traditionally used in house building and other construction required little use of cement. Gradual substitution of traditional building structures or pattern by modern high-rise ones has pushed up the use of cement. But as the economy continued to remain agro based, construction sectors had not been able to gain momentum and as the infrastructure development was selective, cement remained a product of low demand. A faster growth in demand for cement has been observed only since mid 1980s, specially with implementation of large infrastructure projects, increased pace of urbanization, construction of apartment buildings and multistoried shopping complexes in urban areas, and in the moneyed rural people for modern houses.
Private local enterprises dominate the current cement production (60%) of the country while multinational cement manufacturing companies like Lafarge Mollins, Cemex, Holcim, Heidelberg account for 40% market share. Clinker is mainly imported from China, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and India and used as raw material for cement manufacturing by the companies in Bangladesh. Among the local cement manufacturing companies Shah Cement, Akij Cement, Fresh, Crown, Seven Circle, Aramit, Royal etc. are the major ones. The manufacturing of cement is based on both locally available raw materials and imported clinker. The mills that produce cement from imported clinker are located mainly around Dhaka, Chittagong and Mongla. There are 74 cement companies registered with the relevant government agencies but around 30 companies are in operation in 2010. These mills produced 21 million tonnes cement per annum. A 50-kg bag of cement sells at Tk. 380-430. Some small manufacturing plants in northern and southern parts of the country had already been shut down in the last few years, as those lost out their competitiveness to big market players. Local raw material based cement production depends on limestone deposits that lie in St. Martins Island, Joupurhat and Sylhet areas. The deposit in Sylhet supported the production of cement in the Chattak and Ayeenpur cement factories in the 1960-1990s. These plants shut their operation due to their supply shortages of limestone and also due to their inability to stand with their market competitors. [Mushfiqur Rahman]