UK: Hanson Cement set to expand Padeswood

UK: Hanson Cement set to expand Padeswood
Published: 26 November 2014


Having staved off closure, Hanson Cement's Padeswood plant is now looking to expand with a rail link and additional cement capacity in a new GBP1.2m investment project.

The scheme will see staff numbers at the Flintshire site double to nearly 100 staff at Padeswood and the nearby Cefn Mawr Quarry. The turnaround has occurred after an increase in local house building and other construction activity has improved cement demand.

Work is underway on a new cement line and the plant is also considering opening a disused rail link and installing additional equipment to increase output further. The producer is also putting in a planning application for a solid recovered fuel facility.

Spokesperson David Weeks said: “This will enable us to bring in paper and plastic waste from local authorities that cannot be recycled. We will then burn this waste to power the kiln, this is cost effective for us as it is cheaper than gas and also the price is not as volatile. It helps make the plant more competitive and we are also getting rid of this waste.

“We had six years of misery but now finally things are looking up,” explains David. “We did think long and hard about the future of Padeswood. Kilns are output driven and when they are not operating anywhere near to full production they end up very costly. We had a situation when we had three kilns in the UK and really only the demand to keep two going,” he said. “Closure was an option but we knew at some point the recession would end and Padeswood was our most modern kiln and strategically a very important site for us.

Partial shutdown of the plant was not really an option explains David: “Mothballing a plant is very expensive because of the cost of bringing the site back into production so we had the kiln at a low wick and staff numbers were cut, and workers put on part-time hours. We went down to 50 staff from a peak of more than 100.”

The construction sector now looks in better shape. “This has really changed in the last 12 months, we were worried initially about whether this would continue but now we are seeing sustainable growth that we believe will continue for the next two to three years as the construction sector starts to grow again,” said David.

“Now we have invested GBP1.2m into the site in a new plastic packaging production line because of the demand from the building trade for this. This is being constructed at the moment. This is seeing 17 people taken on as staff numbers increase.”

With demand expected to steadily rise so is output and staff numbers. One possible investment would be to revamp the existing rail tracks and also bring in equipment to get the cement into rail freight carriages.
“Staff numbers are now back up to 91 at Padeswood (with an additional seven at the quarry) and we intend to increase output in the future and are looking at a number of options,” said David.

“A rail link would increase the output of cement from the plant, with product taken direct into markets in London and Scotland. This is something we are considering at the moment, but we need to ensure the market is there before we make the investment. We are also looking at increasing the grinding capacity at the plant which would again increase output and increase jobs at the site.

“The investment the company is putting in at Padeswood shows the commitment it has to the site for the future,” he added.