The South African cement industry is set to embark on a multi-million rand project to systematically replace some of the coal used in its kilns with alternative, waste-derived fuels. The first waste material to be targeted is scrap tyres – regarded as a major environmental problem by the government, where it has been estimated that more than 22-million scrap tyres are now stockpiled in one region alone. The cement sector’s plans to locally implement the global trend of partially firing kilns with scrap tyres has been welcomed by the government with the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, recently announcing that government was already formulating scrap tyre regulations.
Executive director of the Association of Cementitious Materials Producers (ACMP) Naude Klopper said about 10-million scrap tyres were generated in South Africa every year – with only about 30 per cent being reused. Many countries have introduced legislation to ensure the safe disposal of scrap tyres. Using
scrap tyres to fire cement kilns is a win-win situation for all: the country is rid of a major environmental problem while the cement producers reduce their reliance on coal – a non-renewable source of energy”. Klopper said 1.2Mt of coal were consumed by the cement industry every year – and the Department of Minerals and Energy has indicated that the known coal reserves would last only another four decades. “Apart from the thousands of tons of scrap tyres produced in South Africa every year, the cement industry will in future also consider the use of other acceptable waste-derived fuels,” he added.