PPC will source waste tyres from the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of SA for use in its factories. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Roy Cokayne

PPC HAS concluded an agreement to source waste tyres from the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (Redisa) for use at its De Hoek cement factory in Piketburg.

The cement and lime producer is also investigating the possibility of using waste tyres in some of its other plants, Azola Lowan, the executive for investor relations and strategy, confirmed this week.

Redisa is the only waste tyre management plan approved by the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs and is involved in the collection and processing of waste tyres.

Lowan said the use of the waste tyres in the kilns at the De Hoek factory would be introduced from the middle of next year and indications were that the tyres could replace 10 percent of its coal usage.

She confirmed there was a cost benefit from using the waste tyres instead of coal and also a carbon advantage because of the reduced use of coal.

However, Lowan said some investment was required in the feeder system to use waste tyres, which meant this initiative would only generate a return over a few years.

She stressed this was one of several environmental and alternative energy initiatives being undertaken by PPC.

Lowan said PPC had already commissioned the use of carbonaceous spent pot liner, a waste material from the aluminium industry, at its Dwaalboom cement factory in Limpopo.

“We basically get paid to use that product and again it replaces some coal – about 5 percent,” she said.

Lowan added that PPC was also doing a feasibility study on a waste heat recovery system at its Dwaalboom factory, which involved using waste heat and converting it into electricity.

On the alternative energy front, PPC had an agreement with Innowind, which was constructing a 60 megawatt wind farm in the Eastern Cape to provide electricity to their Grassridge quarry.

Lowan said PPC was also actively engaged in environmental upgrades at some of its other factories.

A bag house filter was being installed at the De Hoek factory to reduce dust emissions, while similar air quality upgrades were taking place at its Slurry factory and Limeacres lime factory.

Lowan said all these initiatives were aimed at ensuring that PPC was compliant with environmental legislation and regulations by 2020.

Lowan said PPC had two strategies – expanding into the African continent and keeping the home fires burning, which meant the company continued to invest in and modernise its existing infrastructure – but environmental issues were also a key theme.

She said PPC was uncomfortable with the management of its input costs in South Africa.

Lowan said on a rand-for-rand basis PPC input costs were fairly flat, but had increased 8 percent a ton because of its contraction in volumes.

Energy-related costs, which include diesel, coal and electricity, constitute about 30 percent of PPC’s total input costs.

Lowan said electricity had a weighting of 11 percent in PPC’s input costs, but about five years ago that weighting was about 5 percent, which meant the proportion of electricity costs in the overall cost of sales had doubled in a very short space of time.

Distribution, which included fuel costs, accounted for 28 percent of PPC’s cost of sales and increased by 11 percent in the year.

However, Lowan said coal costs had declined by 6 percent, which was related to coal prices and PPC reaping the fruits of its three mega-plant strategy involving using its most efficient kits to reduce its thermal costs.