Cement is manufactured through a large-scale, capital-and-energy-intensive process. At the core of the production process is a rotary kiln, in which limestone and clay are heated to approximately 1,450 degrees Celsius. The semi-finished product, clinker, is created by sintering. In the cement mill, gypsum is added to the clinker and the mixture is ground to a fine powder – traditional Portland cement. Other high-grade materials such as granulated blast furnace slag, fly ash, pozzolan, and limestone can be added in order to modify the properties of the cement for special uses.

LafargeHolcim produces an extensive line of cements and hydraulic binders. These range from Portland cements and classic masonry cements to specialized products for different types of environments, as for example environments exposed to seawater, sulfates, and other harsh natural conditions, where cements with high slag or pozzolan content provide greater durability. The Group also develops solutions intended for specific applications, for example white cement, oil-well cements, road surfacing binders. These products go hand in hand with certain complementary services, such as technical support, order and delivery logistics, documentation, demonstrations, and training related to the characteristics and proper use of cement.

Cement customers include construction and public works organizations, manufacturers (producers of ready-mix concrete and prefabricated products), and, via retailers, the general public. At a basic level, the market can be segmented into bag and bulk cement. Bag markets consist of highly fragmented customer groups. Emerging markets tend to be the largest consumers of bagged cement. Bulk markets are more industrialized, as they are mainly focused on larger B-to-B customers such as construction companies or building products manufacturers. Most mature markets in Europe and North America are predominantly bulk markets.

Cement is a product that is costly to transport over land. Consequently, the radius within which a typical cement plant is competitive extends for no more than 300 kilometers for the most common types of cement. However, cement can be shipped more economically by sea and inland waterway over great distances. Most LafargeHolcim plants are located close to customers in highly populated areas, benefiting from the ongoing global urbanization trend.

Consolidated key figures for cement in 2015




Includes all other cementitious materials

Production capacity cement in million t


Cement and grinding plants


Sales of cement in million t


Net sales1 in million CHF


Operating EBITDA1 in million CHF




Consolidated sales of cement 2015 per region1

million t



Inter-regional sales –2.6 million t

Asia Pacific


Latin America




North America


Middle East Africa



Sales of cement in million t
Key figures – Sales of cement (bar chart)Key figures – Sales of cement (bar chart)

The Group’s consolidated cement volumes increased 0.2 percent to 255.7 million tonnes in 2015. Increased deliveries in several markets including Egypt, the Philippines, the United States, Mexico, and Indonesia compensated for lower performance in China, Brazil, and Russia. Other countries that contributed positively to the results include Vietnam, Canada, Algeria, and Romania. Cement volumes increased in North America, Asia Pacific, and Middle East Africa, while deliveries were lower in Europe and Latin America.