Belarus, China negotiating investment for cement production upgrade

Belarus, China negotiating investment for cement production upgrade
Published: 28 September 2007

Belarus is currently in talks with China over drawing investments for upgrading Belarusian cement plants, Alexander Pankevich of Belarus’ Ministry for Architecture and Construction told reporters.  
“At the moment, a ministerial delegation is on a visit to China negotiating the prospects of channeling Chinese investments in retooling projects at Belarusian cement-producing companies, and the terms of machinery supply,” said Pankevich, who is head of the Department for science and technology with the ministry. He accentuated the point that Belarus is interested in purchasing equipment for burning coal and used car tyres in cement production.  
In his words, there is a plan to retool Belarusian cement plants in 2008-2009, with a simultaneous switch from natural gas to coal. It will take an estimated 4-5 years to pay back the investment, he mentioned.  
The ministry representative attributes the switchover to alternative energy sources to the necessity for diversifying energy resources. “Financially, there won’t be much to save here. Coal, however, is always cheaper than gas and there are alternative suppliers. We are just resolving the problem of giving up the critical raw material, which is constantly growing in value,” Pankevich said.  
The Ministry of Architecture and Construction has estimated that by switching from gas to coal cement producers would save 20% of energy expenditures. Besides, alternative energy sources prompt an easy solution to recycling used tyres. Belarus is set to adopt a standard European practice paying bonuses to tyre recyclers, the ministry official said.  
According to the cement production retooling program, which spans a period till 2010, Belarus is expected to adopt a new dry-process technology, vice head of the ministry’s construction materials department Georgi Puntik told reporters.  
In his words, at the moment Belarus mostly uses the wet technology, with the basic materials’ humidity levels totally 28-35% against 5-7% elsewhere in Europe. The new technology is expected to cut energy intensity in cement production by 20-25%.  
Three Belarusian cement-producing companies are set to boost cement production in 2008 by 21.6 per cent up to 4.5Mt.  
It was formerly reported that the President of Belarus instructed agencies concerned to triple cement production by 2011 to 9.5-10Mt.