Cemtech travels to Thailand

Published 05 August 2019

Over 200 delegates converged on the Avani+ Riverside hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, to participate in this year’s Cemtech Asia conference and exhibition. At a time when global regulations on emissions are tightening, the conference programme considered pathways to a low-carbon future for the Asian cement sector.

The presentation programme featured an extensive range of regional cement market reports

Thomas Armstrong, managing editor of International Cement Review, began the Cemtech Asia proceedings by welcoming delegates to Bangkok. Introducing the conference title, ‘Pathways to a low-carbon future’, Mr Armstrong explained that with regulatory frameworks such as emissions trading schemes being put into action across the sector, it is important that South Asia, a region that represents six per cent of global cement consumption, matches its high pace of capacity growth with strategies to reduce carbon emissions.

Global and regional overview

To set the scene for the rest of the event, Paul Roger of Exane BNP Paribas (UK) updated delegates on the demand and pricing scenario for global cement markets in the remainder of 2019 and 2020. Exane BNPP has forecast global cement consumption to grow 2.9 per cent in 2019 and 3.8 per cent in 2020. Mr Roger noted that “demand has been very strong in Europe” in 2019, while mixed results were recorded across the emerging markets. “We expect good growth here in Asia to continue” said Mr Roger, referring to the rest of 2019. Considering the conference theme, he stated that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) could result in a major shake-up in Europe, particularly amongst smaller producers.

Martin Wilkes (Indonesia) refined the scope of the global market outlook and looked at ASEAN countries in further detail. Recent notable developments include the “LafargeHolcim ASEAN black-out”. Before the Lafarge and Holcim merger, both companies had a combined 60Mta capacity in the region. However, LafargeHolcim is soon expected to have no operational manufacturing capacity in the region after selling assets in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and is awaiting a sale in the Philippines to the benefit of regional players.

Martin Wilkes reviewed the ASEAN cement markets

On a country-by-country basis, the programme then picked out several growth markets in Asia to explore the supply-demand dynamics at a deeper level. Prolonged overcapacity in Indonesia has created a highly-competitive market landscape for the coming years, according to Rahman Kurniawan of Semen Indonesia. However, cement demand growth of 4.1 per cent is still projected for 2019 with potential for further consumption provided by a housing backlog of 11m homes and a steadily increasing budget for infrastructure projects.

The recent explosion of activity in the Philippines was explored by Manas Tamotia of LEK Consulting (Singapore). A considerable growth in infrastructure projects has and will continue to support demand, with consumption from the infrastructure sector forecast to show a CAGR of 17 per cent between 2018-21. As a result, capacity is expected to increase from 35Mta to 57Mta in 2018-21 through new entrants and expansion projects.

Since 2010 demand in Nepal has more than doubled to 9Mta, according to Dhruba Thapa, Cement Manufacturers’ Association (Nepal). The three main reasons for this surge are the considerable number of planned infrastructure projects, reconstruction work from the 2015 Gorkha earthquake and a new governmental constitution created in 2015 which has provided stability. While imports are expected to completely cease from this year, an anticipated surplus capacity of around 8.5Mta of cement in 2021 will likely open up the possibility for exports. 

Field trip – SCG Kaeng Khoi

Cemtech Asia 2019 delegates had the opportunity to visit SCG Cement’s Kaeng Khoi operations in Saraburi province. The company has divided its operations throughout Thailand into three sections: the north section features one 1Mta plant, the central section has three plants with a total capacity of 14Mta and the south has one 7Mta unit. The 7Mta Kaeng Khoi plant is one of the three facilities that make up its central operations.

Consisting of three parts, the tour allowed delegates to view SCG’s quarry restoration project, solar plant and innovation centre. When in operation the quarry uses the company’s sustainable mining practices via a semi-open cut design with a buffer zone to reduce the environmental impact of mining on the local ecosystem. Furthermore, the restoration project, which started in 2003, is now in its fourth phase. A total of 73,477 trees have been planted in the 15-year period, with the fourth phase expected to continue until 2022.  

The facility has several solar power projects, with its largest 10MW plant delivered by REC Singapore and its slightly smaller 9MW unit from a German supplier.

The company’s innovation centre showcased several revolutionary products, such as concrete fabric and 3D-printed concrete.

The Cemtech Asia 2019 field trip took place at SCG’s Kaeng Khoi operations

Sustainability and low-carbon solutions for Asian producers

Building on the conference theme of low-carbon solutions for the Asian cement industry, several presentations looked at sustainable plant practices and carbon-reduction strategies. SCG Cement’s keynote speaker, Wachirachai Koonamwattana, head of the company’s Living Solutions business (Thailand), examined the model of the global circular economy and how it can be applied to assist resource management in the Asian cement industry. The company’s own sustainable mining practices include zero-waste mining by recycling byproducts from the aggregate process and technology for efficient mine planning to effectively use its material resources. As part of the programme, delegates had the opportunity to visit SCG Cement’s operations in Kaeng Khoi, Saraburi province, to see these mining practices in action (see box story).

SCG’s Wachirachai Koonamwattana gave

a keynote address on the circular economy

While highlighting the successful start-up of Chip Mong Insee Cement Corp’s 5400tpd plant, Aidan Lynam (Cambodia) discussed how future plans for the company include reducing CO2 emissions to 675kg/t of cement from 776kg/t by 2022 and becoming net water positive in the same period.

Laurent Grimmeissen of Cementis (Switzerland) outlined the benefits of LC3, a limestone calcined-clay cement. The product facilitates the production of cement with as little as 50 per cent clinker content at a comparable compressive strength to CEM I/OPC, while achieving a 35-40 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions. As demonstrated by Matthias Dietrich, Sika (Switzerland), supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) are another method to reduce the clinker factor.  However, depending on the percentage of clinker replaced by SCMs, additives may need to be used to maintain the strength or quality of the cement.

Meanwhile, the average clinker factor of Indian cement fell to 0.71 in FY17-18 from 0.74 in FY16-17, as the utilisation of both slag and fly ash increased. The cement industry is the largest consumer of fly ash generated by the country’s thermal power plants, currently using 26 per cent of the total fly ash created from thermal power production. Aparna Dutt Sharma, secretary general, Cement Manufacturers’ Association (India) highlighted this development as part of an overall look at the country’s roadmap to sustainable growth. As challenges to sustainable growth remain, such as logistical issues, policy uncertainty and the availability of input materials, the continued development of new carbon-reduction technologies and key sustainability models like the circular economy are essential.

Cemtech Asia Awards

The Cemtech Gala Dinner included an award ceremony to celebrate several outstanding contributions to the event. Chip Mong Insee Cement was awarded with Cement Plant of the Year 2019 after Aidan Lynam’s presentation on the subject. For more information on the plant, please see the ‘Bright start, bright future’ article in ICR January 2019.

Inform also received an award for best exhibitor after hosting a workshop for optimising cement and ready-mix logistics, which noted record-breaking attendance levels. Held by Paul Flachskampf and Stefan Jollet, the 1.5h workshop provided detailed business case studies for the applications of digital logistics in both sectors.

Finally, SCG Cement received the award for the best presentation following their low-grade lignite gasification technical paper. Featuring a case study from a plant in Lampang province, Thailand, Kriengkrai Suksankraisorn looked at the utilisation of low-grade lignite as a fuel. Normally, the material is a waste product as it has a lower calorific value than standard-grade lignite and a higher ash content. However, after the installation of a crusher and gasifier, the project was a success and has since been applied in other facilities.

Chip Mong Insee Cement won the award for Asian Cement Plant of the Year

Extended programme

Outside of the conference programme, delegates had the opportunity to directly interact with world-class equipment providers in the sold-out exhibition.

The Gala Dinner celebrated the conclusion

of another successful Cemtech Asia event

Elsewhere, the Cemtech Asia Technical Workshop was held alongside the main conference programme. Led by Dr Michael Clark, the workshop explored the progressive levels of optimisation of the cement manufacturing process. Participants also had the chance to explore the exhibition during breaks in the programme, which covered everything from raw materials to milling processes. As a result of the new, concise two-day format, they were also welcome to attend the trip to SCG’s Kaeng Khoi operations on the third day of the Cemtech proceedings.

The event concluded with a Gala Dinner, featuring an outstanding regional menu and entertainment programme.

Cemtech Europe 2019

Cemtech Europe will be held at the InterContinental Hotel in Berlin, Germany, on 30 September – 2 October. For the latest speaker and exhibition updates, please visit www.Cemtech.com/Europe2019.

The ICR Cement Industry Awards will be held alongside the event to honour the achievements of a range of cement sector activities.

This article was first published in International Cement Review in August 2019.