PPC has released a final Environmental Impact Report, the next step in a process that could see it invest more than R4bn in a new cement factory with a capacity of around 1.3Mta to both replace and expand its aging plant at Riebeeck in the Western Cape.
The existing plant which dates back to 1959, produces around 550 000t of cement a year and is reaching the end of its economic life. Orrie Fenn, PPC’s Chief Operating Officer, says that with the strong growth in South African cement demand, which has grown by nearly 60 per cent over the past five years, coupled with Government’s focus on infrastructure development, the Western Cape could face a shortage of cement in the next five years if production capacity is not increased.
“Cement is a strategic commodity and if there is a shortfall it will have to be imported to the Western Cape from overseas, which would drive up the cost. The new factory will ensure that there will be sufficient supply to meet projected demand into the future.”
The plant will employ the latest technology, making it considerably more efficient than the existing facility, using less water, energy and 30 per cent less coal per tonne of cement produced. Bag filters will control dust emissions from the kiln stacks limiting dust concentration in the cleaned gas to well below the level of 50mg/m3 required by International and European Standards, thus comfortably meeting the expected requirements of the new South African Air Quality Act.
The estimated project cost includes R20m predominantly aimed at uplifting the quality of life for the Riebeek West and Riebeek Kasteel communities, and up to R100m in a Public Private Partnership with the regional authorities for a possible much-needed upgrade of the existing road system to alleviate traffic flow through both towns.
“Every effort has been made to minimise the environmental impact of the new factory on the surrounding area, ranging from positioning of the factory to reduce its visual impact, to capping PPC’s heavy vehicle traffic through both Riebeek West and Riebeek Kasteel at current levels,” says Fenn.
The environmental impact assessment has been conducted by independent consultants Ninham Shand and is the culmination of more than two-and-a-half years of intensive consultation and research. The 1 200-page report includes the results of 14 specialist studies into aspects such as noise, air quality, traffic, social impacts, water, visual impact and health.
The public has 60 days to comment before the report is presented to the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Planning.
If the project is approved, construction will start mid-2009 and will take approximately three years to complete.