Displaying items by tag: Government
Vietnam: Tran Viet Thang, General Director of the Vietnam Cement Industry Corporation (VICEM), has blamed local taxes for increasing the cost of exports from the country. He blamed a government decision to exempt exported cement products from input value-added tax and a 5% export tax, according to the Viet Nam News newspaper. He also said that increasing input material costs and fluctuating foreign exchange rates had caused problems for exporters. Nguyen Quang Cung, Chairman of Vietnam Cement Association, added that cement export volumes had fallen by 5.9% year-on-year in 2016.
Vietnam has set an annual export target of 20 – 35% of the country’s total cement and clinker capacity by the year of 2030. Vietnam’s cement output is expected to reach 120 – 130Mt/yr by 2020 but local consumption is only expected to reach 93Mt/yr, leaving a significant excess.
US: The Portland Cement Association (PCA) has welcomed the confirmation of Scott Pruitt as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by the US Senate.
“We congratulate Pruitt on his confirmation and look forward to working with him in the years ahead,” said PCA president and chief executive officer (CEO) James G Toscas. “His experience and background are strong indicators that we will see a common-sense approach to regulations that protect public health and the environment. We have always believed that the best regulatory solutions derive from adherence to the intent of the enabling legislation, together with an honest consideration of the perspectives and concerns of all involved, including public stakeholders, the regulating agency and the regulated industry. We believe and expect that Pruitt will restore balance to the regulatory process."
France: The European Parliament has voted to approve a proposal by the European Commission to reduce carbon credits by 2.2%/yr from 2021 in its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). This is an increase from the 1.74% reduction specified in existing legislation. It will also double the capacity of the 2019 market stability reserve (MSR) to absorb the excess of credits or allowances on the market.
Members of the European Parliament (MEP) want to review the so-called ‘linear reduction factor’ with the intention to raising it to 2.4% by 2024 at the earliest. In addition MEPs want to double the MSR’s capacity to mop up the excess of credits on the market. When triggered, it would absorb up to 24% of the excess of credits in each auctioning year, for the first four years. They have agreed that 800 million allowances should be removed from the MSR as of 1 January 2021. Two funds will also be set up and financed by auctioning ETS allowances. A modernisation fund will help to upgrade energy systems in lower-income member states and an innovation fund will provide financial support for renewable energy, carbon capture and storage and low-carbon innovation projects.
The draft measures were approved by 379 votes to 263, with 57 abstentions. MEPs will now enter into negotiations with the Maltese Presidency of the European Council in order to reach an agreement on the final shape of the legislation, which will then come back to Parliament.
Environmental campaign group Sandbag has complained that the new proposal fails to hold to the European Union’s (EU) emissions reduction targets by 2030 that were signed as part of the Paris Agreement in 2016.
“Unless the Council intervenes to substantially strengthen the System, the EU ETS will now become simply an accounting mechanism, leaving meaningful climate action to happen elsewhere. The fact that the carbon price is unchanged as a result of the vote, still at a paltry Euro5, speaks volumes. Without being realigned with real emissions levels in 2020, the EU ETS may well end up existing for 25 years by 2030 without giving the any substantial impetus to decarbonisation,” said Rachel Solomon Williams, Managing Director at Sandbag.
Afghanistan: The Afghan government has cancelled a private contract to run the Ghori cement plant citing irregularities in the ownership of the company in 2016. It said it was not properly notified about a change in ownership and the company also owes it unpaid taxes and fees since it was privatised in 2006, according to Reuters. Zabihullah Sarwari, a spokesman at the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, said that the government was notified of the sale of the original shareholding after it had been completed.
Local businessman Javid Jaihoon reportedly purchased the business from Afghan Investment Co (AIC), a group of investors including the brother of the former president Hamid Karzai. Jaihoon told Reuters that he had paid all the government fees relating to the company and that he has invested nearly US$60m in the plant.
Operation at the cement pant is expected to continue for the time being. The government now intends to put the company up for international tender.
Last week’s Global CemFuels Conference in Barcelona raised a considerable amount of information about the state of the alternative fuels market for the cement industry and recent technical advances. One particular facet that stuck out were reports from cement and waste producers, from their perspective, about Morocco’s decision to ban imports of waste from Italy in mid-2016. The debacle raises prickly questions about how decisive attempts to reduce carbon emissions can be.
Public outcry broke out in Morocco in July 2016 over imports of refuse derived fuel (RDF) imported from Italy for use at a cement plant in the country. At the time a ship carrying 2500t of RDF was stopped at the Jorf Lasfar port. Local media and activists presented the shipment in terms of a dangerous waste, ‘too toxic’ for a European country, which was being dumped on a developing one. Public outcry followed and despite attempts to calm the situation the government soon banned imports of ‘waste’.
What wasn’t much reported at the time was that RDF usage rates in Europe have been rising in recent years and that the product is viewed as a commodity. As Michele Graffigna from HeidelbergCement explained at the conference in his presentation, its subsidiary Italcementi runs seven cement plants in Italy but only two of them have the permits to use alternative fuels like RDF. Italy also has amongst the lowest rates of alternative fuels usage in Europe, in part due to issues with legislation. This is changing slowly but the company has an export strategy for waste fuels from the country at the moment. Italy’s largest cement producer wants to use waste fuels in Italy but it can’t fully, so it is exporting them so it (and others) is exporting them to countries where it can.
In the Waste Hierarchy, using waste as energy fits in the ‘other recovery’ section near the bottom of the inverted pyramid, but it is still preferable to disposal. Waste fuels may be smelly, unsightly and have other concerns but they are a better environmental option than burning fossil fuels. HeidelbergCement engaged locally with media and local authorities to try and convey this. It also arranged visits to RDF production sites in Italy and German cement plant that use RDF to present its message. Looking to the future, HeidelbergCement now plans to focus on local waste production in Morocco with projects for a tyre shredder at a cement plant and an RDF production site at a Marrakesh landfill site in the pipeline. Graffigna didn’t say so directly, but the decision to focus on local waste supplies clearly dispenses with historical and cultural baggage of moving ‘dirty’ products between countries.
In another talk, at the conference Andy Hill of Suez then mentioned the Morocco situation from his company’s angle. His point was that moving waste fuels around can carry risks and that a waste management company, like Suez, knows how to handle them. It is worth pointing out here that Suez UK has supplied solid recovered fuel (SRF) to the country so it has a commercial interest here. He also suggested that despatching a bulk vessel of waste to a sensitive market did not help the situation and that it heightened negative publicity.
Morocco’s decision to ban the import of waste fuels in mid-2016 is an unfortunate speed bump along the highway to a more sustainable cement industry. It raises all sorts of issues about public perceptions of environmental efforts to clean up the cement industry and where they clash with commercially minded attempts to do so by the cement producers. A similar battle is playing out in Ireland between locals in Limerick and Irish Cement, as it tries to start burning tyres and RDF. These are not new issues. Meanwhile in the background the amendment to the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme draws close with a vote set for mid-February 2017. It could have implications for all of this depending on what happens. More on this later in the month.
Belgium: Environmental campaign group Sandbag says that research it has conducted has shown that proposed tariffs can protect European Union (EU) cement from ‘dirty’ competition and reward EU companies that produce low-carbon cement. It has released its data ahead of the a vote by the European Parliament in mid-February 2017 to decide on whether to adopt a new border adjustment mechanism (BAM) proposed by the Parliament’s Environment Committee.
The non-government organisation says that a BAM would require importers of cement and clinker into the EU to surrender emissions permits corresponding to the embedded carbon in their products, in the same way that domestic EU cement manufacturers are required to do at present. At the same time, cement, would no longer receive free allocation.
Previous research carried out by Sandbag suggests that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has driven cement emissions higher, whilst other European and national regulations and product standards discriminate against low-carbon cement companies. Over the last decade, the EU carbon market may have delivered more than Euro4.7bn in ‘windfall’ profits to cement companies. However, Sandbag say that border taxes could set cement producers on a level playing field by harmonising incentives to reduce product emissions within the EU.
“The EU can now implement a pragmatic and politically feasible solution for boosting low-carbon cement in Europe, and ending the scandal of enormous windfall profits to cement companies. However, this isn’t simply about cement. In a world of developing carbon markets with no unified set of rules, it is necessary to account for discrepancies in order to avoid offshoring of production,” said Wilf Lytton, an analyst at Sandbag.
Australia: Adelaide Brighton has raised concerns about a South Australia state plan to build housing and tourism facilities near to its Birkenhead cement plant in Adelaide. At a public meeting held by the Development Assessment Commission, a local planning body, the cement producer expressed its concerns that building more housing would create more complaints about the plant’s activities, according to the Portside Messenger newspaper. It added that the government should consider building buffers to reduce noise and dust pollution from the site. The local government wants to build a tourism development near Cruickshank’s Beach and the cement plant.
India: The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, a corruption body in the state of Kerala, has arrested Prakash Joseph, a legal officer at Malabar Cements, in relation to a loss of US$0.4m. The state-owned cement producer signed a contract with a company owned by businessman VM Radhakrishnan to sell cement, according to the Hindu newspaper. Staff at Radhakrishnan’s company withdrew a deposit for the deal without the knowledge of Malabar Cements. Prakash Joseph allegedly misinformed his employers about the location of the court handling a legal challenge to the withdrawal. Radhakrishnan has previously been investigated by police in connection to corruption charges at Malabar Cements.
South Africa: The Congress of South African Trade Unions, a federation of unions, has publicly complained about government permission granted to China’s CBMI Construction to bring workers into the country. CBMI Construction was awarded a tender for a US$90m upgrade project at PPC’s Slurry plant in 2015 and the union says it was allowed to import 242 Chinese workers to work on it. It is alleged that these workers have been working in the country since October 2015 and will continue to do so until 2018. The federation has asked the Department of Labour to look into the issue.
Canada: The Champlain Township council in Ontario has voted against planning changes to allow Colacem to build a cement plant in nearby L’Orignal. However, the United Counties of Prescott and Russell have voted in favour of the project, according to the Review newspaper. The cement producer requires approval from both bodies in order to proceed with the project. It wants to build a 3000t/day cement plant at the site next to a limestone quarry it already operates.