November was a frantic and busy month for the industry, despite many speculating that a slowdown was inevitable following a busy October.

Multinational building materials firm CEMEX have announced an organisational shake-up, with senior members of the team rotating from one region to another. The company believes that rotating senior managers ensures a diversity of experience and knowledge. The headline changes are the appointment of Ignacio Madridejos Fernandez as president of CEMEX USA and Jaime Gerardo Elizondo Chapa as president of CEMEX Europe.

LafargeHolcim was also in the news, confirming that it’s Australian and New Zealand operations are not for sale. The news came following speculation that the company may soon be exiting from the region. Whilst Holcim Australia chief executive Mark Campbell said the company was “not currently being sold,” there was no confirmation of an exit further down the line.

Campbell admitted that organisations can change focus over long periods of time, and added that “it is impossibly to say that [they] will always be a part of LafargeHolcim.”

If LafargeHolcim do decide to sell it is expected that Boral, Fletcher Building, and Adelaide Brighton could be potential acquirers. We will be keeping our attention fixed closely on developments here, and will be sure to update you on social media if there is more news in the coming weeks.

In other recent news, aluminium producer Nalco announced five new independent directors on its board. In coordination with its diversification plan, Nalco has ventured into the renewable energy sector. According to a filing submitted to BSE, the appointees are Damodar Acharya, Dipankar Mahanta, P K Nayak, Maheswar Sahu and S Sankararaman.

There is also further demand for gypsum, with exports from Oman expected to reach 10Mt/yr by 2018; twice the current rate. This would make Oman the sixth largest gypsum producing country by 2016, and the fourth largest by 2018. The increased demand is mainly from cement and wallboard manufactures, and is suspected to originate from countries such as India, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam.

There were further positive developments for steel too, as leading Russian mining company Mechel announced signing a three-year agreement for coal supplies with Japan’s JFE Steel Corporation. The agreement will be in force until August 2018, and will see Mechel supply JFE Steel with up to 1Mt of metallurgical coals per year.

Finally, it was announced last week that the European Commission has granted approval to Belgian chemical group Solvay to proceed with its proposed $5.5bn acquisition of US-based chemical group Cytec Industries. The acquisition will allow Solvay to further upgrade its portfolio.

For more updates on the building materials, cement, aggregate, and industrial minerals industries you can follow Chad Harrison on LinkedIn.