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Rugby reopens cement mill to tackle demand

NEWSSouth-east boom prompts plant's revival

CEMENT firm Rugby has re-opened one of its mills at its plant in Kent to meet booming orders for the material from major jobs in the south-east such as Heathrow's T5.

The Rochester mill, known as Cement Mill 5, was closed three years ago following a downturn in orders but has now been brought back to meet growing demand from construction sites.

A spokeswoman said: 'We are supplying more cement for our customers in the south-east.

'We supply quite a lot to T5 already and it makes more sense to ship it from Rochester, rather than our plant at Rugby, to save on things such as haulage costs.'

The firm spent £1 million to bring the mill back up to scratch after it had lapsed into some disrepair following its closure.

Rugby asset development director Neville Roberts said: 'The mill was in poor physical condition, rust had set in, vital parts were missing and the separator was full of holes.'

He added: 'We are ramping up storage and milling of ordinary Portland bulk and bagged cement at the site to meet changing market conditions and have recruited more employees to handle the increased output.'

Rugby now has eight cement mills up and running, with Cement Mill 5 producing 80 tonnes an hour - making it the cement firm's second largest mill.

Earlier this summer Rugby's parent company RMC warned that stoppages at its Rugby plant and a drop in spending by the Highways Agency will see half year profits fall by half when they are published today (Thursday).

RMC said there had been several stoppages at the Rugby works due to a switch in the raw material supply.

It added that output had stabilised but needed increased high-cost imports.

The firm said interim profits were expected to be slightly more than half of the £41 million it reported during the same period last time.

RMC said demand for asphalt had fallen by 10 per cent due to reduced HA spending.