Displaying items by tag: Alternative Fuels
Spain: Cementos Cosmos has stopped exports from its Niebla cement plant due to an increase in the price of petcoke. The subsidiary of Brazil’s Votorantim has also implemented a Temporary Regulation of Employment from June 2017 to May 2018 that will enable it to suspend workers or reduce working hours, according to the Huelva Información newspaper. The cement producer says it is waiting for planning permission to install a dosing system for waste fuels that will cut it fuel bill. However, the local community has opposed attempts to use alternative waste fuels previously.
Lots of fascinating information has been emerging in recent weeks about changes in the Chinese cement industry as the larger producers have published their annual financial results. One example is the focus on using alternative fuels to fire up kilns. As explained below, the spotlight on co-processing is state-mandated and this is why the producers are now keen to promote their adherence. Even so, as ever with China, the scale of the change is staggering.
For example, Anhui Conch reported that it had completed 15 waste treatment projects and one sludge treatment project in 2016. In addition it had three projects still undergoing construction at the year-end. The group said that it co-processed 600,000t of domestic waste in its cement kilns in 2016. All of this was achieved by a company that says it only started co-processing municipal waste from its first project in 2010. China Resources Cement’s (CRC) progress was slower but it managed to start a co-processing project at its plant in Binyang County, Guangxi in December 2015 and a sludge project in Nanning City, Guangxi in July 2016. New projects at Tianyang County, Guangxi and Midu County, Yunnan are being built at present, with completion expected by the end of 2017.
Long held rumours about production overcapacity in China came to head in 2015 with the National Bureau of Statistics in China (NBSC) reporting that sales dropped in 2015 following a decade of steady growth. Then the results of most of major producers followed this by falling in 2015. CRC presented a good history of what happened next in the Chinese cement industry in its results report [LINK]. In brief, in 2016 the Chinese government implemented supply-side structural reforms focusing on production efficiency, reiterating attempts to stop new production capacity being built and pushing environmental reforms. Throughout the year various government offices released guidelines to encourage market consolidation, cut obsolete production capacity, increase co-processing rates and decrease the energy needed to produce each tonne of clinker.
Graph 1: Cement sales in China, 2012 – 2016. Source: National Bureau of Statistics in China.
Whether or not any of this has helped the Chinese cement industry to overcome the problems it faced in 2015 is unclear. As Graph 1 shows, Chinese cement sales started to rise again slightly to 2.35Bnt in 2016 from 2.31Bnt in 2015. Sales revenue from some of the major cement producers presents a more varied picture as can be seen in Graph 2. Anhui Conch’s revenue rose by 9.7% year-on-year to US$8.12bn in 2016, China National Building Material Company’s (CNBM) revenue rose by 1% to US$14.8bn and CRC’s revenue fell by 4.2% to US$3.3bn. CRC may have suffered here from its relative business concentration in southeast China. Both Anhui Conch’s and CNBM’s results seemed to look patchy in mid-2016 when they released their half-year reports, but both sales and profits seemed to pick up sharply in the second half of the year.
Graph 2: Sales revenue from selected major Chinese cement producers. Source: Company annual reports.
As the current set of structural reforms kick in within the Chinese cement industry it will be interesting to see what happens next. From plans to cut 10% of local clinker production capacity by 2020 to ambitious environmental aims the sector barely has time to catch its breath. The question is whether the major producers balance sheets are being helped more by a recovering local market or by the reforms. Either way the uptake of alternative fuels is encouraging.
China: Huaxin Cement’s sales revenue rose by 1.9% to US$1.96bn in 2016 from US$1.93bn in 2015. Its cement and clinker sales rose by 5% to 52.7Mt and its net profit rose sharply to US$65.6m from US$14.9m. It attributed its result to following government-promoted supply side reforms such as cutting production costs. The cement producer noted that its had increased its usage of alternative fuels in the second half of the year following an increase in the cost of coal.
During the reporting period Huaxin Cement put its 3000t/day Tajikistan Sughd clinker production line into operation. It also purchased 15 cement plants from LafargeHolcim, including four grinding plants, located in Yunnan, Chongqing and Guizhou provinces. Altogether the new cement and clinker production capacity is expected to reach 10Mt and 15Mt respectively. The company also added that it had 25 alternative fuels co-processing projects operating or under construction with a capacity of 5Mt/yr.
Ireland: Residents of Limerick protested on 10 and 11 March 2017 against Irish Cement’s plans to burn waste solvents and used tyres at its plant in Mungret. In response, Irish Cement stated that it is the only cement plant left in the country that uses solely fossil fuels and that it needs to use waste fuels to reduce costs if it is to keep the 84 jobs at the plant.
Canada: Lafarge Canada has started a partnership with Dalhousie University researcher Mark Gibson to test tyre-derived fuel on an industrial scale at the Brookfield cement plant in Nova Scotia. Working under a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant, this initiative will research the adoption of low carbon fuels in the cement industry. The research will continue the partnership between Lafarge Canada and Dalhousie's Faculty of Engineering.
"My students and I are very pleased to see this work enter the real world. Based on our research, we expect to see significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the Brookfield cement plant and thereby help Nova Scotia move one step closer to a low carbon economy," said Gibson. He added that the use of tires will also reduce NOx emissions. In 2015, Gibson and his team published a report entitled ‘Use of scrap tyres as an alternative fuel source at the Lafarge cement kiln, Brookfield, Nova Scotia.’
Due to different initiatives including previous work with Dalhousie's Faculty of Engineering, the Brookfield plant has substituted alternative fuels for conventional ones by using front-end burner injection in its kiln. The plant is expected to reach a substitution rate of up to 30% by the end of 2016. Following the test using tyres the cement producer expects to use 15% of its fuel requirements from 450,000 tyres per year, or just under half the amount of tyres generated in Nova Scotia. The project proposal will be explained in further detail at a Public Meeting planned for 20 October 2016 in Brookfield.
Update on Oman
It’s been an interesting month for the cement industry in Oman with the announcement of various producer projects and a recent market report predicting steady growth in the country.
A late August 2016 sector report from Al Maha Financial Services concluded that government-backed infrastructure projects in the country have pushed cement demand over the production capacity of the two leading local cement producers, Oman Cement and Raysut Cement. The report tempered the good news though with fears that excess production capacity from neighbouring producers in nearby countries would continue to lower prices in Oman. This matches the situation Global Cement found when it visited Oman Cement’s plant in early 2015. Such was the demand-production gap that this producer sometimes imported clinker to keep its supply constant when it shutdown its kiln for maintenance.
Cement production capacity in Oman currently stands at 8.81Mt/yr according to Global Cement Directory 2016 data. The major cement producers hold most of the local market with Oman Cement’s 4.2Mt/yr plant at Rusayl and Raysut Cement’s 3Mt/yr plant at Salalah.
Raysut Cement has announced progress on a number of local projects throughout 2016 including launching a new 20,000t silo at Salalah in May 2016, building a new terminal at the Port of Duqm due to open by the end of the third quarter of 2016, installing a new 150t/hr rotary packing plant with auto truck loader for expected commissioning by the end of October 2016 and it is currently upgrading its gas supply station at Salalah, also to give cement production a boost.
This last project is of particular interest because when Global Cement visited Oman Cement the staff at the Rusayl plant were concerned about the rapidly rising price of natural gas. The plant used gas as its primary fuel and at the time of the interview in January 2015 they were considering diversifying into alternative fuels such as a tyres or using local coal instead. The issue also received a mention in the company’s first quarter report, where it attributed the rise in gas prices to a 26.8% hit in its operational profit taking it down to US$15.6m in the first quarter of 2015.
Meanwhile, both Raysut Cement and Oman Cement are in the process of building a cement plant together at Al Duqm. The latest news on this joint venture emerged in mid-August 2016 when the companies announced that they had registered Al Wusta Cement as the company designated to carry out the project. So far the plant is at the feasibility study stage with further progress to be released at a later date.
Operating in a full-capacity environment will be a dream to many cement producers around the world. However, it is not without its pitfalls from input issues such as gas supply or fighting off external competition who may want a piece of the pie. Oman's construction industry is expected to see growth of 3.4% to US$5.74bn in 2016 backed by government spending. It is there for the taking for the local producers.
US: The Essroc cement plant in Speed, Indiana has lots its appeal to burn alternative fuels. Local government officials have decided that the plant will have to apply for rezoning to order to burn hazardous waste, comprising solvents, paints and other chemicals along with coal, according to the Washington Times newspaper.
“I’m disappointed in the decision, but I’m confident that we’ve got other means to obtain the required authorisation to continue with the project,” said Jeremy Black, the plant manager.
Local residents who are suing the plant have accused Essroc of misleading them regarding which fuels the company intends to burn. Essroc have denied the claim.
Ireland: Irish Cement’s plans to use used tyres as an alternative fuel at its plant in Limerick, Munster, have been delayed, after more than 1000 local residents signed a petition to present to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Local Labour councillor Joe Leddin said the sheer number of submissions is, ‘testament to the huge anxiety and worry of residents.’ An EPA spokesman confirmed it is one of the highest responses it had ever received for any application. The petition now means that no decision is likely to be made on the plans until the start of 2017.
Irish Cement has previously stated that the public’s concerns are disproportionate. The tyres will be burnt at such high temperatures, that the tyres will be completely consumed and pollution will be minimal.
Portugal: Cimpor has appealed a judgement by the Supreme Administrative Court cancelling permits to burn alternative fuels at its Souselas cement plant. The North Central Administrative Court cancelled the environmental licences, originally granted by the former Environment Minister Nunes Correia, in March 2016.
Ireland: Irish Cement is planning to cut the amount alternative fuels it intends to co-process at its Limerick cement plant to 90,000t/yr. The cement producer withdrew its initial planning application in March 2016 but has resubmitted a new application with a lower amount of alternative fuels, according to the Limerick Leader newspaper. It now aims to burn half of the original amount that was originally requested.
It originally announced its Euro10m plan to co-process alternative fuels including tyres at the plant in December 2015. The investment is intended to create 40 jobs. However, local citizens have opposed the plans with over 450 people signing a petition against the development.