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Tarmac creates highways unit to counter soaring bitumen prices

Tarmac is setting up a new highways division to supply an alternative to bitumen in a bid to tackle the rocketing cost of the material on road resurfacing.

The Tarmac Pavement Solutions division is being launched within Tarmac’s national contracting business to produce and supply cement-bound and recycled materials.

Its aim is to counter the soaring price of bitumen, which has risen 60 per cent in two years.

The move follows a backlash from contractors in March against the formulas used in contracts to determine the price of building materials.

Clients have been encouraged to use new price indices to reflect changing prices on volatile oil markets in its highways maintenance contracts.

Companies including Aggregate Industries and Tarmac said in March that they were making losses on deals negotiated before the increase in prices resulting from the volatile hydrocarbon market.

The highways industry is increasingly calling for cementitous roads, which have a concrete base layer and a thin surfacing of asphalt on top.

Tarmac national contracting regional director Richard Vine will head up Tarmac Pavement Solutions.

He said: “With bitumen accounting for around a third of the cost of building a new road, its price volatility means that the sector must embrace cement-bound materials and reduce its reliance on bitumen.”

Tarmac said its Pavement Solutions division has been set up “to help contractors, local authorities and network operators cut the cost of new-build road construction projects using cement-bound or recycled asphalt systems”.

It said cement-bound roads can be designed to give “equivalent service life performance to both conventional asphalt and rigid concrete pavements” and “deliver significant financial savings, given the current price levels”.

Mr Vine added: “Driving greater uptake of recycled asphalt is also key to cutting costs and meeting environmental targets and our new service builds upon our extensive expertise in this area.

“We also believe that the durability of cement-bound material provides commercial opportunities in sectors such as ports and aviation.”

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