Interview: Eisa Al Hammadi

Is the new bulk material handling system (BMHS) helping satisfy demand for construction materials for the $200bn infrastructure programme?

EISA AL HAMMADI: The BMHS at Mesaieed Port has myriad of benefits, including efficiency benefits, environmental benefits and traffic benefits. The conveyor belt is 4.8 km, the longest in the Middle East. It increases the handling capacity throughout berths two and three of the port by 81%, bringing it to 30m tonnes per annum, while the overall capacity throughout the port is increased by 68% to 37m tonnes per annum. Meanwhile, the waiting times of vessels in the anchorage area has decreased by 65%. Additionally, truck-loading efficiency has been increased by 70%. These improvements allow for the smooth importation of construction materials without major bottlenecks affecting the supply chain.

In addition to the BMHS, QPMC has been working on expanding its cement silos. This project saw the addition of two cranes, two conveyor belts and 12 concrete silos with a storage capacity of 5000 tonnes each. The estimated unloading capacity is enough to fill up to 40 trucks per hour, with a payload of 25 tonnes each.

The new cement silos are intended to help end shortfalls in cement supply and ensure the provision of cement in a sustainable manner for current and future projects, while eliminating the detrimental impact of prices from the black market. We have dedicated berth one at Port Mesaieed for non-aggregate materials, including cement. This allows us to further increase the supply in times of peak demand.

In terms of aggregate materials, QPMC maintains a strategic stock to enable us to stabilise the aggregate market at any time and prevent negative impact of prices from the black market. If needed, parts of the strategic stock can be used for this purpose in the short term and then replenished in the medium term.

We are also constantly working with the government and the Ministry of Environment to identify new sources of reserves. At present, QPMC is developing its own quarry source in Oman, and we have long-term strategies to source materials according to Qatar quality standards from various areas to minimize the risk that comes from depending on only one source of supply. All of these projects are intended to help secure the supply of building materials in the local market to keep up with demand in the booming construction industry, especially with Qatar being host of the 2022 World Cup and continuing to work towards the National Vision 2030.

Has there been a shift towards sustainable construction materials and practices in line with policies contained in Qatar National Vision 2030?

AL HAMMADI: We want to see materials reused in new projects as much as possible. This brings environmental benefits, as well as price benefits, because these materials are locally produced rather than imported.

The ratio of recycled materials to imported materials in Qatar is now almost on a par. Gabbro, limestone, and sand can all be recycled and they are widely used in infrastructure projects here. At the end of 2017, QPMC will start its own recycling operation. Furthermore, the BMHS produces zero dust and has already won three environmental awards.

Has the supplies market been impacted by the tighter lending and collateral conditions imposed by financial institutions in 2016?

AL HAMMADI: There has been an improvement in the sector in 2017. This can clearly be seen from the sales figures. In 2016 our yearly target for gabbro was 10m tonnes. In reality, we sold a lot less. This means that construction activity was in decline. However, we sold 10m tonnes in the first three quarters of 2017. We can satisfy demand in the domestic construction market, while QPMC has a strong enough supply chain to satisfy the existing aggregate demand, despite the existing trade blockage. This clearly demonstrates that construction activity has picked up dramatically.