HAVANA.- The Cuban cement industry will begin a process of updating three of its plants, with the goal of gradually increasing the production, essential for constructive development in the country.

According to Pavel Cansino Ávila, deputy director of the Cement Business Group, a new factory in Santiago de Cuba must be set up during the current year, which will replace the obsolete "José Mercerón", built in 1955.

The official explained that the plant, expected to be completed in three years, will have the capacity to produce around one million tons of clinker (raw material for the production of cement), and could provide 1.2 million tons of gray cement annually.

He said that it will be located in the southern part of Abel Santamaría neigborhood, in the eastern city, between two deposits of raw materials.

He added that in 2018 they will also improve the Siguaney factories in Sancti Spíritus and the 26th of July in Nuevitas, Camagüey, with the aim of rescuing their full capacity to produce gray cement, as well as white in the first one of them.

He specified that the aspiration is to recover the six cement plants distributed throughout the country, including the Mariel plant, which will be 100 years old this year.

For the complete modernization of this industry, the Cuban government has allocated more than 700 million pesos, to double current output by 2025, and triple it five years later, Cansino Ávila said.

In 2017, although the government's order and the volumes destined to the retail trade were fulfilled, it was not possible to produce the 1,573,200 tons of cement expected in the plan, which closed at 92 percent compliance, according to a report by the Construction Materials Business Group.

The failures were due to problems such as financing for the maintenance of factories, while there were obstacles in train and maritime transportation, the document states.

There were also difficulties with packaging (bags) due to the lack of raw materials, a situation that did not affect the delivery of cement in bulk to the network of stores of domestic commerce, said the official.