Latin American cement industry confers in Santo Domingo at 31st FICEM

Published 26 November 2014

Tagged Under: Santo Domingo ficem event report 

Technical Conference emphasises cement industry sustainability, safety, maintenance, cement production processes and the environment. By Robert Roy, ROI Economic Consulting, USA.

Some 345 delegates attended the 31st FICEM Technical Conference in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The Hotel Occidental El Embajador in downtown Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was the meeting place for 345 delegates to the 31st FICEM Technical Conference on 8-11 September 2011. Attendees included 113 cement company personnel and 210 vendors.

Monday morning started with welcoming addresses from Gabriel Restrepo and Carlos Emilio González,  who head the Latin American cement producers' association FICEM and its Dominican counterpart, ADOCEM, respectively. Dominican Minister of Public Works and Communcations, Gonzalo Castillo, offered the conference's opening remarks. After a short break, the technical presentations started with sustainability the first major topic of the day and safety the second. Particularly noteworthy presentations included those of Luis DeGarrido, executive president of the International Federation for Sustainable Architecture, who discussed “Advanced ecological architecture in concrete” and of Philippe Fonta, managing director at the WBCSD Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI), who presented an overview of the “CSI responsible concrete sourcing scheme”.

FICEM hosted a conference with a range of interesting papers

DeGarrido began using the example of the hybrid car, its ecological advantages and disadvantages. Next he examined the interaction of the planet’s economic and natural systems, leading to the concepts of artificial nature and green architecture. He defined green architecture as “one that satisfies its occupant(s) needs, in any time and place, without thereby endangering the welfare and development of future generations. Therefore, green architecture implies a commitment to social stability and human development, using architectural strategies to optimise resources and materials; to promote renewable energy; to reduce waste and emissions; to reduce the maintenance and price of building; and to enhance the quality of life of buildings’ occupants.” Next DeGarrido defined the indicators and actions of sustainable architecture and warned about the dangers of some existing evaluation systems. His presentation gave numerous examples of green architecture both realised and proposed with stunning visuals and some humor as well.

Philippe Fonta gave an extended overview of the WBCSD CSI's activities and goals. Primarily a platform of cooperation among leading global cement companies on sustainable cement and concrete, member companies include Holcim, Lafarge, Cemex, Argos, Votorantim, Titan, HeidelbergCement, CRH, Italcementi, Siam City Group, Sinoma and Taiheiyo. The CSI also includes many “communication partners”,  trade associations such as PCA, CPCA, Cembureau, FICEM, JCA, ABCP, Oficemen, CCA, SNIC and CMA. CSI’s goals are “systemic approaches to deliver a more sustainable cement industry in the short and long term. A responsible sourcing scheme is a certification system that: 1) creates transparency on the production of concrete and concrete products regarding environmental and social aspects, 2) promotes responsible sourcing of concrete and 3) improves resource efficiency and social contribution(s) of concrete production, and fosters stakeholder engagement.”  CSI is developing cooperative arrangements with other “green” programmes. Fonta’s presentation ended with a question, “do you want to be involved?” asking the audience if they or their companies want to join the CSI.

DeGarrido and Fonta were followed by Kristtian Rada and Luis Alberto Salomón, both from the International Finance Corp of the World Bank Group discussing “Private-private cooperation mechanisms the sustainable development in Latin America” and “Waste heat recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean”, respectively. In addition, Monday afternoon had presentations on innovation management at Argos, green taxes and co-processing, world class performance at Cementos Progreso, security management at Cementos Pacasmayo, cement industry contributions to community investment and housing access.

Coffee and other breaks offered the opportunity to catch up with existing contacts and make new ones

Tuesday’s sessions focussed on maintenance and the environment. Following four presentations on different aspects of cement plant maintenance, the rest of the day was devoted to environmental issues such as solid waste, alternative fuels for clinker production, scrap tyre co-processing and limestone extraction from prehistoric sites. This last presentation by David Cueto of Unacem discusses how the company in partnership with Peru’s Ministry of Culture jointly excavated an ancient limestone mining site at Cerro Punta Blanca in Lima province. They uncovered skeletal remains, tools, jewellery and other archaeological objects. The findings showed that ancient Peruvians used lime mainly for agricultural purposes as fertiliser for their crops. Such a presentation at a cement industry technical conference is unique in my experience.

Wednesday was devoted to presentations concerning cement plant production processes. Cementos Argos, Cementos Cibao and Domicem spoke about practical experiences at their plants, while several vendors discussed their latest innovations. Among presenters were Panalytical, Aumond, Cemengal, Christian Pfeiffer, PM Technologies, Loesche America, BWF Envirotec, Clarcor, Claudius Peters, Command Alkon, and Magnesita Refractarios. Topics ranged from vertical roller mills and cement grinding to storage systems and dust control, from EN and ASTM resistance tests and resistance-enhancing additives to refractories, dust collectors, power sources, and optimal distribution systems.

An equipment supplier exhibition was part of the event

FICEM XXXI highlighted in particular today's for sustainable development of the cement business, both in terms of making the industry more friendly to the environment as well as assisting social programmes such as housingneeds. Many presentations were concerned with improving living conditions while minimising negative environmental effects. Cooperation in these matters was mentioned far more often than competition. This suggested that a point has been reached where cement companies realise improving the environment and living conditions can be good for business as well as society.