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Holcim New Zealand is making big changes to its New Zealand operations, by building a new $50 million import cement terminal at Timaru's port, looking at selling its lime operations including Dunback, keeping a new cement plant at Weston on hold and combining management with Australia.
Work is expected to start on the 30,000-tonnes-a-year terminal at Timaru's PrimePort in August, with a second, worth another $50 million, in Auckland in December.
The two new terminals will each employ up to 50 people during the construction phase and when completed each will have six employees.
''This confirmation of start dates can be taken as a sign of the global company's confidence in the strength of the New Zealand market and in particular the opportunities with the rebuild of Christchurch post-earthquake,'' Holcim NZ's managing director Jeremy Smith said yesterday.
The Auckland terminal enabled Holcim to supply directly into one of its major markets and the Timaru terminal gave access to the major market of Christchurch.
Both should be operational by the second half of 2016.
Building an import terminal at Timaru was also consistent with Holcim's option of eventually building a new cement plant at Weston, which remained on hold, Mr Smith said.
Holcim intended to retain all the assets associated with the Weston site and project.
PrimePort chief executive Jeremy Boys said the announcement was heartening and positive, coming after discussions dating back to last year.
It would also involve a separate investment by the port in upgrading the No 2 wharf, providing infrastructure and dredging, estimated to cost about $20 million.
Mr Boys could not say what contribution the terminal would make to the port's income because that was commercially sensitive, but said it was a welcome long-term addition.
Holcim in August decided imported cement would replace local production at the Westport cement plant, which would close once the two import terminals were fully operational.
Holcim is now reviewing its options for its lime businesses, which could include divesting part or all of the lime operations because they were outside the company's future core focus.
McDonalds Lime Ltd employed 72 people at the country's largest single lime quarry at Oparure, just north of Te Kuiti.
The company had manufacturing plants at Otorohanga and Te Kuiti.
Taylors Lime's 12 staff at Dunback had also been briefed about the review.
A ''comprehensive process'' would assess the options with a specialist to assist.
Mr Smith said the changes would eventually reduce the scale and scope of the New Zealand business and require a smaller corporate management, making it logical to combine it with the Australian operations into one business.
Mr Smith's job would be disestablished at the end of this year, but he would remain with the company into next year to assist with the transition.
A country manager would be appointed for New Zealand later this year, with Mark Campbell, at present Australian chief executive officer, taking over the joint management.