France's Lafarge suspends huge Egypt cement works
French building material giant Lafarge said Monday that it had suspended production at its vast Egyptian cement works because of the political crisis gripping the country.
Thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets to seek the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak's autocratic regime, and several international firms have withdrawn staff or scaled back operations over security concerns.
Lafarge employs 70 expatriates and 2,500 local staff in Egypt, and produces 10 million tonnes of cement per year. It has begun to evacuate foreign staff and their families, a spokesman for the group told AFP.
"Work could restart as soon as the situation returns to normal, given that the staff remains operational and the management of the units will remain in place," the spokesman said of the main cement plant.
Lafarge is the world's biggest cement producer and Egypt houses the headquarters of its Middle Eastern operation.
According to the firm's website, it owns a cement plant in the desert 100 kilometres (60 miles) southeast of Cairo, and -- having bought Orascom Cement in May 2008 -- operates 23 concrete plants and three aggregates quarries.
© 2011 AFP