Antifake / Factcheck

23 April

Fact Check: ОNT TV Falsely Reported on Cement Plant Experiencing Success as if ‘Costs Fall, Profits Rise’

The so-called giant in Kostyukovichi is the JSC Belarusian Cement Plant.

The Belarusian cement giant has been experiencing production achievements for several years in a row after modernization, Natalya Pitkevich, a representative of the state Belarusian state TV ONT, said. The Weekly Top Fake team fact-checked whether the Belarusian cement industry has indeed achieved unprecedented success.

On April 14, 2024, the Cement Plant in the Kostyukovichi region received praise on the ONT TV news program Our Time, with the host highlighting its achievements and contributions. The news context is as follows. Back in March 2024, Aleksandr Lukashenko demanded that the roads in Belarus be put in order by May 9 — an important date for authorities, Victory Day. 

So, state TV demonstrated the work in progress and reported that Belarus is focusing on concrete roads, since, to produce asphalt, ‘bitumen from imported oil is needed, but concrete has absolute insurance against sanctions’.

“The main supplier of raw materials in the [Mogilev — ed.] region is the cement giant in Kostyukovichi. Over two million tons. Production achievements have been recorded for several years in a row. They invested 25 million rubles in modernization. They earned twicу as much,” Natalya Pitkevich reported in the news segment.

The so-called giant in Kostyukovichi is the JSC Belarusian Cement Plant. In 2012, it was modernized, that is, the second technological line for cement production was launched. When purchasing new equipment in 2009, the management planned that the plant would be able to produce three million tons of cement per year. But after the modernization, its capacity is only two million tons.

Its modernization cost not BYN 25 million but more. According to data from 2011, the second technological line’s launch at the Belarusian Cement Plant was supposed to cost BYN736 billion. At that time, it was about $245 million. However, those calculations turned out to be wrong. The modernization of the Belarusian Cement Plant eventually cost almost $450 million in total.

As a whole, the Belarusian cement production is not as successful as the authorities had planned. Three plants, including the one in Kostyukovichi, produced less than 4 million tons of cement in 2006.

Aleksandr Lukashenko had set the task of increasing production to 10 million tons by 2011. For this, authorities attracted tied loans from China. But the construction had dragged on, and doubled in cost. Cement prices, on the other hand, had fallen during that time.

As a result, more than a billion dollars was invested in modernization. The ambitious goal of 10 million tons of cement crumbled, with the actual production reaching only 5 million tons in 2023. The very data was shown by the three cement plants in 2023.

The Belarusian Cement Plant, along with other Belarusian enterprises in this industry, remains unprofitable and is unable to independently repay the loans. For this purpose, the state regularly attracts funds from the budget.

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