Caribbean Cement mega-expansion project to roll out in October
Jamaica’s sole maker of cement expects to start its big expansion project next month, and is looking towards early 2025 to ramp up the new production capacity. Yago Castro, the managing director of Caribbean Cement Company Limited, says a team of...
Jamaica’s sole maker of cement expects to start its big expansion project next month, and is looking towards early 2025 to ramp up the new production capacity.
Yago Castro, the managing director of Caribbean Cement Company Limited, says a team of 20 engineers from Mexico has been supplied by parent company Cemex for the project.
“We will see civil works starting next month so we are going ahead with the project,” Castro reported to Caribbean Cement’s shareholders.
“It’s a total game changer for the company,” he said.
The expansion initially announced in 2022 will cost US$40 million. It will increase production capacity at the company’s Rockfort, Kingston plant by 30 per cent to 1.3 million tonnes a year.
The investment aims to strengthen Jamaica’s self-sufficiency in cement.
Castro said that while there’s a small single-digit dip in demand for the construction material, it was still much higher than usual when using the 2020 pandemic year as the baseline.
Cement sales for the half-year, January to June, also climbed earning the company six per cent more in revenue at $14.2 billion.
The expansion should finish in about one and a half years, but it requires technical installations to integrate the rest of the plant. The best time to so do would be during routine maintenance which involves a general shutdown.
“The project will be very advanced next year, and we probably have to wait for 2025,” said Castro. “It’s precisely that time that we are going to do the general shutdown of the kiln. So, we are forecasting that the right time to connect the new with the old is in the first quarter of 2025,” he affirmed.
It’s a big project for the company, which Castro said would be financed from internal resources and loans, if necessary.
“The project is quite big,” Castro commented to the Financial Gleaner following the company’s annual general meeting last Friday.
“It implies enlarging different sections of the kiln, a new coal dosing system, an upgraded clinker cooling section and a new design for the clinker transport system,” he said.
The kiln operates as an industrial burner which Caribbean Cement fuels largely with coal and the balance at 5.6 per cent from alternative fuels such as old tyres up from 2.7 per cent a year earlier. Castro wants to grow that figure by looking at other forms of garbage to fuel the kiln.
“The kiln is very controlled where high temperatures are achieved, so we can securely destroy the refuge and it has no negative impact for the environment,” he said, adding that alternative fuels would result in reducing the importation of coal.
The kiln is an oven linked to the towering cylinders at Caribbean Cement’s Rockfort base, but onlookers would not see the kiln’s large torch that heats to over one-thousand degrees to transform raw materials and limestone ultimately to clinker, which is the binding substance in cement. It is also the most energy-intensive and carbon-emitting part of the manufacturing process.
Last year, the plant emitted 688 kilogrammes of carbon for every tonne of cement produced, down from 718kg of carbon dioxide in 2021.
Castro said the company recognises the inherent emissions associated with the business but aims to reduce its carbon footprint going forward. To this end, in February 2022, the company started selling a product called Carib Plus Vertua low-carbon cement, which it said resulted in about a seven per cent decline in net carbon emissions.
The company also introduced a UTIS or ultimate technology to industrial savings system as a means of increasing its fuel substitution rate. UTIS separates hydrogen and oxygen from water and injects the hydrogen gas and oxygen gas directly into the kiln for continuous combustion, the company said in its annual report.