Florence cement plant eyes further expansion

Florence cement plant eyes further expansion
Published: 10 November 2005

A day after a rival touted its proposed Pueblo cement plant, Holcim Inc. on Tuesday disclosed plans to study the possible expansion of its cement plant by 20 per cent Holcim also touted its own environmental upgrades put in place as part of a plant expansion three years ago. The expansion doubled the plant’s capabilities Holcim’s future expansion plans will not impact the proposal for a new plant south of Pueblo proposed by GCC Rio Grande, a Rio Grande spokesman said Tuesday afternoon.

"Our excitement is on moving our new state-of-the-art project ahead, but we wish them luck," GCC Rio Grande spokesman Kristy Bassuener said.

Pueblo County Commissioners have approved tax-breaks and a road improvement plan for the GCC plant, which would get built on Lime Road off Interstate 25 about six miles south of Pueblo. GCC Rio Grande executives say they will now focus on finalizing a deal over electric rates, and also securing the best price they can for the steel needed to build the plant. If all the pieces fall into place, construction could begin by January.

Holcim in the press release made no reference to GCC Rio Grande’s proposal to build a competing state-of-the-art $225 million cement plant south of Pueblo The company focused its comments on its own operations. Holcim said in the press release that a decision to go to cement rationing in late summer was not the result of sustained production problem at its plant.

The plant was hit with a "brief maintenance outage," the company said, but the rationing was the result of both heavy demand and the production problem. The plant continues to produce at its design capacity of 1.7Mta - double the rate of three years ago - and the rationing program ended in mid-October, the company said.

A study now under way by Holcim will focus on whether the Florence plant should expand production by another 300,000tpa or 18 per cent above current levels, Holcim said. "This plant has the ability to increase production well beyond its design capacity in a short time frame," Holcim plant manager Rob Davies said in a statement.

Paul Harrington, senior vice president of the Holcim mountain region, acknowledged in a statement that a brief maintenance outage hit the plant earlier this year However, a surge in demand was the main factor in the cement rationing, Harrington said. "The strength of the market certainly challenged us this year," Harrington said.