More than a month after the Penden Cement Authority Limited (PCAL) plant’s gearbox of one of the clinkers producing mills broke down, a second-hand gearbox was procured on August 3.

The second-hand gearbox imported from Gujarat, India, cost Nu 1.6 million (M).

PCAL’s general manager, Sherab Tenzin, said their team is currently working to fix it. “We are working on the mortar alignment at present.”

He said it could take another two to three days to fix the gearbox before cement production could resume.

Currently, PCAL is producing one-fourth of its 1,600 metric tonnes (MT) capacity of cement a day.

PCAL faced the gearbox problem since mid-April this year. The 20-year-old gearbox had undergone some in-house repairs but it failed to work later.

On May 16, the gearbox broke down beyond repair.

Figures shared by PCAL officials show a huge difference in production compared to 2016. In June this year, PCAL dispatched 12,135MT of cement, which is about 59 percent less compared to last June’s production of 30,243MT of cement.

Considering the then price of Nu 5,617.50 per MT, the cement manufacturing company did not produce cement worth Nu 101.72M.

Officials also say that from January to June last year, PCAL dispatched about 205,826MT of cement. This year, the company dispatched about 179,524MT, which is less by 12 percent.

Considering the cement price, PCAL could not produce cement worth about Nu 147.75M.

The June dispatch of PCAL was also affected, as there was no export since June 18.

Officials claim that because of increasing infrastructure developments in the country, domestic demand was more this year and PCAL decided to first meet the domestic demand.

An official said that the overall cement export this year is likely to fall for all cement manufacturers in the country because of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) implemented in July.

A 28 percent import tax is applicable in India, which means cement agents will have to bear more and would inflate their buying price.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing