Nairobi - ARM Cement Limited (formerly Athi River Mining Ltd) has posted a nine month net profit of Sh826 million marking a 328 percent growth from the previous year's Sh193 million.

Turnover climbed 29 percent to Sh7.74 billion driven primarily by higher sales of Rhino Cement.

Rhino Cement, which is ARM's flagship operation set up in 1997, launched its Tanzania cement production plant in Dar es Salaam this month.

"This will contribute to the group revenues in the 4th quarter of 2012. Construction at the 1.2 million tonnes per year Clinker plant at Tanga is progressing as per schedule," the company said in a statement.

ARM Cement Ltd received $50 million from the African Finance Corporation (AFC) to fund in part the Tanzania plant as well as expansion efforts into the region.

The company has operations in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Africa

Profit before unrealised foreign exchange differences increased by 18 percent from Sh978 million to Sh1.15 billion.

"The unrealised foreign exchange loss provision in the nine months of 2011 was Sh681 million. With the strengthening of the Kenya shilling, this exchange loss has since reversed and turned into a gain of Sh42 million in 2012," the firm revealed.

The company's overall outlook remained optimistic about the business environment in the region and with expectations of growth in demand for Rhino Cement and other products.

Standard Investment Bank (SIB) said over the last five years cement industry players have invested over Sh42 billion ($500 million) in capacity expansion.

This investment has seen cement grinding capacity in the region increase by 65.8 percent over the same period to 10.4 Million Tonnes Per Annum (mpta) in 2011; a figure SIB expects to further increase by 41.8 percent to 14.76 mtpa by 2015.

Between 2001 and 2010 total cement traded across the East African Community jumped from 0.447 mtpa to 2.182 mtpa.

Kenya remains the region's largest net exporter with 0.61 mtpa in 2010 up from 0.23 mtpa in 2002, while Rwanda is the largest net importer with 0.21 mtpa in 2010.

Source :