Industry overview

Tarmac share of UK heavy side building materials

Tarmac’s sand and gravel products are used mostly in the production of ready-mixed concrete, but are also used for fills and drainage. Extracted from pits and dredged from coastal waters, materials are washed and graded prior to use.

Its crushed rock is predominantly used for road construction (where it is used both as a foundation and, when heated and mixed with bitumen, as a surfacing material), other foundations, drainage, railway ballast and concrete products. Crushed rock may also be used in ready-mixed concrete.

Tarmac’s ready-mixed concrete is manufactured at production units located close to its market and is composed of sand, gravel, crushed rock, water, cement, cement replacements and other components dependent upon the performance required from the resultant mix. Ready-mixed concrete is transported to site in specialist truck mixers designed to mix the material during transit.

Mortar and screeds consist of sand, cement and various admixtures dependent on their application and performance requirements. Mortar is predominantly used for masonry applications such as bricklaying and will often contain lime to improve working properties.

Asphalt, which is manufactured by coating graded, crushed rock with bitumen, is the main product used for surfacing roads. Applied hot or cold to road foundations, asphalt is either supplied to site or collected by contractors from strategically located plants.

Using extracted materials, Tarmac’s concrete products sector provides the construction industry with a variety of pre-fabricated products, including blocks for walling, pre-stressed structural flooring and engineered pre-cast elements.

Tarmac’s lime and cement, which employ similar production processes, are added value materials used widely within construction. Lime is also an important product in the environmental and industrial sectors.

The aggregates, asphalt and ready-mix markets in which Tarmac participate are consolidated in the UK, with the top five players accounting for more than 70% of each market. The cement market is also consolidated, with the leading five companies making up nearly 90% of the market. The main aggregates players also compete, though to a lesser extent, in the more fragmented concrete products market.