AfriSam views the ‘greening’ of its operations not as a nice-to-have but as a business imperative which has enabled the company to forge ahead with innovative and, in some cases, radical environmental initiatives, setting new precedents for the industry.Claudene Moorgas, environmental manager at AfriSam, says, “We focus on every aspect of our activities to conserve and reduce consumption of natural resources, seek alternative fuel and raw material sources, rehabilitate mined and quarried areas and minimise emissions. This is a demanding agenda, with results which remain unequalled in the industry.
“With all our environmental strategies, we are constantly streamlining existing solutions and examining new possibilities,” she adds.
AfriSam also benefits from its alliance with Swiss stakeholder, Holcim, which has assisted the company to remain abreast of global best practices and trends.
“This is the case with alternative fuels and raw materials technologies,” says Moorgas. “Where, conventionally, coal is used to fire kilns to the intense temperatures required for cement manufacture, AfriSam is currently investigating alternative fuels that could be used to substitute coal. We are already making use of alternative raw materials, including industrial by-products which would otherwise be waste material, to produce cements with a significantly lower CO2 footprint.
To reduce diesel consumption, AfriSam has also improved operational efficiencies on its mines.
Probably one of the best known of AfriSam’s environmental initiatives is its Eco Building Cement, launched in May 2010. This product halves the world average carbon footprint for cement without compromising on the quality required by the SABS for a cement in this strength class. “The cement is extended using slag, which has a far lower carbon footprint than CO2-intensive clinker,” Moorgas explains. AfriSam is now also introducing Eco Readymix Concrete.
In 2010, AfriSam was honoured with the Nedbank Green Mining Award in the environmental category for this initiative and for its CO2 reductions over the years. “We have invested over R1 billion in driving down emissions since 2000,” says Moorgas.
Since 2009, AfriSam has been measuring CO2 emissions for all its cement products, assessing the carbon footprint on all 40 readymix operations and its 16 aggregate plants. This was a world first in the industry.
Particulate emissions are minimised by using bag house filters. The plant at Dudfield, in the North West, was the first in the industry to implement this solution and they are also to be installed at the Ulco plant, in the Northern Cape.
In the rehabilitation of mined or quarried land, AfriSam aims to restore the land to as close to its original state as possible. In many cases, alternative land uses are found, creating reservoirs, dams, or picnic and recreational facilities, or integrating it into commercial or community facilities. ”AfriSam has established a Rehabilitation Trust Fund to ensure that future rehabilitation projects are adequately funded,” says Moorgas.
“We have introduced numerous new environmental benchmarks to our industry,” she concludes. “We believe that it’s not just about complying with legislation, but about going the extra mile now to protect and sustain the environment for future generations.”
Useful links: World Business Council for Sustainable Development and World Resources Institute.