NEW EUROPEAN legislation and soaring energy prices are behind a massive increase in cement prices announced this week.
Producers blamed part of the increase on Monday's implementation of the European Chromium VI Directive. This has come into force via an amendment to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSSH) Regulations.
RMC has increased the price of its bagged products by 7.1% from the start of the year.
In March it will push up bulk cement prices by £7.15 per tonne. Other producers are expected to follow suit.
Lafarge also confirmed that price hikes were on the way, but refused to give details.
The producers have also blamed rising coal and electricity costs for the cement price increases. Coal is still the main fuel used to fire cement kilns.
RMC said the price of the coal had 'reached a 20 year high: an increase of 80% in one year'. It also pointed to the 50% increase in wholesale electricity prices and increased fuel costs for its trucks.
The EU's Chromium Directive sets new low limits on the soluble chromium content of fresh concrete to reduce chrome dermatitis risk among site workers.
British cement producers will have to add a special admixture to reduce their products' chromium content to this lower level (NCE 15 May 2003).
Separate implementation of the Road Transport Directive, which limits hours a driver can work, are also behind the price hike. More drivers will have to be recruited as a result.