What was the business impact of COVID-19 and what’s your outlook for Austria?
JAPF: Like many businesses, our sales volumes declined sharply in March, but already had started to recover very quickly after Easter, in such a way that overall April ended up at similar levels as in 2019.
Austria saw one of the fastest recoveries in Europe and the resilience of the Austrian economy has been truly remarkable. After six weeks we are practically back to normal. All thanks are due to our employees who adjusted operations as well as their own schedules to meet these sudden challenges.
In fossil fuel substitution, for instance, our plant in Retznei operates at the highest level in the Group (usually at 100%) and our plant in Mannersdorf has the highest recycling percentage in the whole Group with 15% recycled raw materials. All that comes on top of an already low clinker content in our cements.
It’s important to note that the incredible use of recycling/waste products is done under the most demanding environmental standards. We’re demonstrating the great synergy between lowering fuel and raw material costs while at the same time contributing to our communities with low environmental impact and solving a waste disposal problem.
Finally we’re currently working with three industrial partners to launch a breakthrough project in decarbonization at our plant in Mannersdorf, the biggest cement plant in Austria with a capacity of 1.1 million tons per year, and look forward to sharing the details soon.