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Written by David Perilli, Global Cement
03 June 2015
Encouraging news from Egypt with the announcement that Lafarge Ecocem has taken on two refuse-derived fuels (RDF) contracts in Suez and Qalyubeya. The RDF plants will have production capacities of 42,000t/yr and 280,000t/yr respectively, after upgrades are built.
The move follows a deal Lafarge struck with Orascom in March 2015 to develop a waste management framework of municipal and agricultural waste. The plan is to achieve an average fuel substitution rate of 25% by the end of 2015. Around the same time Ecocem also signed a cooperation agreement with the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and the Qalyubeya Governorate to upgrade a recycling plant in Qalyubeya to produce RDF. Part of the deal was intended to reinvest some of the revenue from RDF sales back into the region's waste collection infrastructure.
These production levels compare to SITA UK's new RDF plants in the UK, which has a more mature RDF market. There, the newly opened Malpass Farm plant is planned to produce 200,000t/yr and the Tilbury plant will have an output capacity of 500,000t/yr when it opens. However, the Malpass Farm plant mainly feeds one cement plant, the 1.3Mt/yr Cemex Rugby plant with a mean substitution rate of 61% in 2013. By contrast, Lafarge Cement Egypt runs the massive 10.6Mt/yr El Sokhna plant.
Co-processing at El Sokhna by Lafarge is of particular interest given the links with Egypt's unofficial household waste collectors, the Zabbaleen. Lafarge Egypt recruited and trained 140 Zabbaleen to gather waste material for RDF production. The strategy enabled Lafarge to gather continuous supplies of RDF and strengthen local stakeholder relations, as Lafarge's 2013 sustainability report puts it. Lafarge Egypt's substitution rate was 2.2% in 2012 with significant improvements made since then. The current target of 25% for the end of 2015 shows how much progress Lafarge has made.
Hisham Sherif of the Egyptian Company for Solid Waste Recycling (Ecaru) placed Egypt's municipal solid waste level at 20Mt/yr at a presentation given at the Global CemFuels Conference earlier in 2015. From this 4Mt/yr of RDF could be produced. Together with biomass derived fuel (BDF) Sherif reckoned that the country's cement plants could reach substitution rates of 30 – 40%. Problems though with increasing RDF rates in Egypt include legal complexities, institutional issues, poor services and monitoring and centralised planning with little regard for the country's unofficial waste pickers, such as the Zabaleen.
Lafarge Ecocem appears to be tackling each of these problems in turn as the deals with Orascom and the Qalyubeya Governorate show. However, spare a thought for Egypt's unofficial waste sector workers who are likely to lose their livelihoods as waste management becomes more formalised and personnel rates per tonne of waste collected tumble.
For more information on the Zabaleen, check out the documentary made about them in 2009, called 'Garbage Dreams'.
Kenya: An unnamed company filed with the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to build a new grinding plant in western Kenya on a 202,343m2 piece of land. It is projected to produce 730,000t/yr of cement.
"The plant will increase cement production in Kenya by 2000t/day. With the exception of clinker that will be imported into the country, all the other raw materials will be mined locally," said the unnamed company in its filling with Nema.
India: Ramco Cements has reported that its quarterly profits rose by 274% to US$14.6m due to better cost management and stable cement prices. Revenues grew marginally by 1.2% to US$156m. The company sold 1.88Mt of cement during the fourth quarter of 2015, down from 2.25Mt in the same quarter of the previous financial year.
For the fiscal year that ended on 31 March 2015, Ramco Cements achieved a profit of US$37.9m, a rise of 76% and a revenue of US$584m. It sold 7.67Mt of cement compared to 8.59Mt in the previous financial year.
"Our ability to manage costs and stable cement prices helped us in better financial performance," said A V Darmakrishnan, managing director and CEO of Ramco Cements. Forecasting demand for the current fiscal year, he said, "We are cautious and will wait."
Operating costs decreased because of cost reduction initiatives and falling fuel prices. However the reduction in costs was offset by an increase in royalty on limestone from US$0.986/t to US$1.25/t with effect from 1 September 2014.
Ramco Cements installed a new 0.95Mt/yr grinding plant in Gobburpalam Village, Vishakapatnam and commissioned it in March 2015.
Europe: Following the clearance from the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) on 28 May 2015, Holcim launched the public exchange offer for all Lafarge shares at an exchange ratio of 9 Holcim shares for 10 Lafarge shares on 1 June 2015. Through acceptance of the public exchange offer, Lafarge shareholders will pave the way for the creation of LafargeHolcim.
The public exchange offer will be open for 25 trading days until 3 July 2015. With this public exchange offer, Lafarge and Holcim are implementing the final step of their project to merge the two companies. The merger is expected to close in July 2015.
Brazil: Three workers were killed and three others injured in the collapse of a cement silo on 30 May 2015 at the construction site of the Belo Monte hydroelectric power plant in the Brazilian Amazon. The accident occurred while a truck was delivering cement to the silos in the area where construction materials are stored, according to the Belo Monte Construction Consortium (CCBM).
Three workers at the silo were pulled out and sustained minor injuries. Emergency services personnel searched the silo's rubble for the bodies of the other three workers and found them nearly 15 hours after the operation started. The CCBM's medical personnel treated the injured workers at the scene and then transported them to the city hospital in Altamira. Pará State police are investigating the collapse of the 500t capacity silo. The consortium's management will cooperate with the investigation 'with all the effort possible,' said the CCBM.
Construction of Belo Monte, a controversial power project in the middle of the world's largest rainforest, has been halted several times due to strikes by employees unhappy with working conditions and protests by groups opposed to the hydroelectric plant. Work on Belo Monte, which will be the world's third-largest hydroelectric power plant, started in March 2011 in Altamira, Pará, despite opposition from farmers, fishermen and environmentalists, who fear the project's impact on the Amazon. Between 16,000 and 25,000 people had to be moved to make way for the US$10.6bn project, according to different estimates. Belo Monte is being built on the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon and will flood 506km2 of jungle. The hydroelectric power plant will have an average generating capacity of 4571MWhr and will reach peak production of 11,233MW in the periods when the river rises.