Texas Industries, Inc. plans to add at least 600 temporary workers as part of a $350-million expansion and modernization of its Oro Grande cement plant, officials said Thursday. The additional workforce will remain during the two or three-year construction project, said Frank Sheets, communications and government affairs manager for TXI in California. But once the modernization and expansion are completed, Sheets added, there will be an expected reduction in the approximately 300 employees who work at the Oro Grande facility today.
Mel Brekhus, the company’s chief executive officer, said the changes to the plant will allow it to increase its capacity dramatically and make the company more competitive in California -- the nation’s largest cement market. Currently, the plant manufactures 1.2 million tons each year, Sheets said, and will expand to 2.3 million tons a year after construction -- almost a 92 percent increase.
The existing facilities will continue to operate as the new plant is built on the same property, Sheets said. TXI will bring in new equipment to increase its capacity, he added. Among those, Sheets said, will include a rotary kiln system, new raw and finished grinding equipment, state of the art pollution control equipment.
The modernized plant will include a preheater/precalciner tower -- a heat-exchange system used for preparing the raw material for making cement. The tower will be close to 400 feet tall, making it by far the tallest structure in the Victor Valley. "The facility will have no (adverse) impact on air quality or traffic," Sheets said. "From an environmental consideration, this will be a real plus." TXI doesn’t yet have a construction start date, Sheets said. The company hopes for a groundbreaking sometime soon, he added.