EAGLE CEMENT Corp. said the opening of its facility in Malabuyoc, Cebu will be delayed, as it encountered problems in getting necessary permits for its construction.

During the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting on Tuesday, Eagle Cement President and Chief Executive Officer John Paul L. Ang said the opening of its fourth cement line will be pushed back more than six months from its original end-2020 target.

“For our intended line for Malabuyoc, Cebu, there were delays in securing permits needed to construct the port. The target completion would have to be moved to 2021,” he said.

“Despite the setback, we are still targeting to sell cement in the Visayas region by end-2020 as promised,” Mr. Ang added.

In a roundtable interview with reporters, Mr. Ang said the company is now aiming to complete the facility in Cebu within the first half of 2021.

Eagle Cement broke ground for the line 4 in Cebu in late 2017, with a target of raising the company’s production capacity to 9.1 million metric tons. The Cebu plant is meant to have a cement capacity of 2 million metric tons, plus port facilities and cement terminals that will cater to Visayas and Mindanao.

Aside from the Cebu plant, Eagle Cement operates three production lines in San Ildefonso, Bulacan.

Mr. Ang said he is hoping the company will raise its sales volume this year to around 5-6 million metric tons, an increase from last year’s volume of 4-5 million metric tons.

Ramon S. Ang, chairman of Eagle Cement, noted the company is staying competitive despite an observed increase in imported cement in the country.

“Imported cement has taken so much of the industry, it’s now 35-40% of the industry consumption,” the Eagle Cement chairman said. “(But) Eagle can compete against imported cement…because Eagle is a very modern and efficient cement plant. So (we’re) not worried.”

The listed cement manufacturer is allotting P3.28 billion for capital expenditures this year to fund its expansion program, a bulk of which will be spent to finish its fifth mill. Net income rose 49% to P1.59 billion in the first quarter, due to higher sales. — Denise A. Valdez