China’s cement sector seeks to accelerate sustainability initiatives

China’s cement sector seeks to accelerate sustainability initiatives

The 2013 China International Cement Conference got underway at the Hotel Nikko New Century in Beijing today, welcoming over 300 senior delegates from the country’s large cement sector.

Opening the meeting, Mr Qiao Longde, President of the China Cement Association, highlighted some of the successes of the China cement industry, which in recent year has made dramatic strides in adopting more efficient production processes while eliminating backward production capacity.

“High-quality dry process cement production now accounts for about 90 per cent of overall cement production, which has been realised through technological renovation and cement plant modernisation over the past 20 years,” explained Mr Longde.

Nevertheless, the industry is still an enormous consumer of energy and because of its scale, responsible for high levels of pollution.

Mr Longde said that the key short-to-medium term objectives of the industry, therefore, will be energy saving and emissions reduction. This will be achieved by driving forward technological innovation and developing a ‘second generation of dry process kiln technology’, he said.

Also speaking to delegates, Mr Jiang Minglin, Consultant to the State Council, warned that in spite of the industry’s noted achievements, its current rate of expansion is unsustainable, and has resulted in conspicuous overcapacity. “In 2012 the annual cement production reached up to 2.18bnt, up 7.4 per cent YoY," he said.

“Even though in 2012, outdated cement production lines amounting to 220Mta capacity were phased out, 125 greenfield lines were built with clinker production capacity amounting to 160Mta. Thus, total national cement production capacity reached 3bnt and capacity utilisation rates slipped to 72.7 per cent,” Mr Minglin highlighted.

Thus, in line with the development goals set out by the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the development mode of the cement industry will be switched from one of “scale expansion” to one which instead promotes technology advancement and prioritises environmental sustainability.

State controls will be actively introduced to resolve the issue of overcapacity: “We will bring market mechanisms in to full play, focus on market demand, strictly control total output and give priority to the resolution of the issue of overcapacity,” said Mr Minglin.

Running in parallel to the cement conference on 24-26 April is the 14th China International Cement Industry Exhibition. Held at the Beijing Exhibition Centre, this cement equipment exhibition includes over 250 exhibitors and an attendance estimated at 5000 visitors over the three days, according to the organisers.