Brick production hit, price rise feared as coal scarce

Banks averse to open LCs to import coal

| Updated: December 06, 2022 09:03:50

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Coal-supply shortage is affecting production of local brickfields, raising fear of further price surge of the key construction material, sector insiders said.

According to them, the country's brickfields are facing a shortage of coal, used as the primary fuel in brick manufacturing, due to lack of its necessary supply.

They opined that brick production in the country might drop by around 30 per cent this season than last season.

If brick prices increase at production level, it would hit consumers, and the country's overall infrastructure development activities, especially the government's development works, would be hampered.

To cope with the crisis, local brick producers have sought the government's intervention to provide required coal to brick-fields, as they are now in a fix.

The Bangladesh Brick Manufacturing Owners Association (BMOA) has recently requested the Ministry of Commerce to solve the coal supply shortage problem in the brick producing units.

The brick-fields are dependent on imported coal to run their operation. Currently, the commercial banks concerned are reluctant to open LCs because of scarcity of dollar. So, most of the brick-fields are facing coal shortage, according to the association.

When contacted, BMOA President Md. Khalilur Rahman said, "Around 25 per cent of the country's brick-fields are now closed due to lack of coal, existing environment law, and non-renewal of licenses of fields by their owners."

Earlier, coal-laden ships always remained anchored at the ports. But, now the ships with imported coal are anchoring after 10/12 days. For this, the local brick-fields are severally suffering.

"We have requested the government to take necessary steps to provide uninterrupted coal supply to the fields. We have also requested to import coal from neighbouring India using domestic currency on an urgent basis to meet the coal shortage."

There are around 8,000 brick-fields in the country. Of these, around 6,000 are licensed fields.

Brick producing season has already started in the country. Due to dearth of coal, the production is likely to decrease by around 30 per cent than the last season, he added.

The producers are now incurring loss by selling bricks, as they are purchasing coal at higher prices from the market. Currently, coal is being sold at Tk 29,000-31,000 per tonne in the market. It was maximum Tk 18,000 earlier, sector insiders said.

Brick prices also marked a significant rise following higher price of coal. The prices would increase further, if the sector does not get required coal.

As a result, developer agencies, especially the real estate companies and the government projects, would face serious trouble due to high brick prices. Individual construction work would also be hampered, they added.

A trader in the city's Gabtoli Balur Ghat area said at present a truckload of 3,000 bricks is selling at Tk 38,000-42,000, which was Tk 26,000-28,000 a year ago. Per piece of first-class brick is now being sold at Tk 12.50-13.50, and second-class at Tk 9.50.

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