Here Comes the Cement

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Plans are at an advanced stage to establish Namibia’s very own cement factory, nine years after the closure of the first one at Otjiwarongo. By the end of 2007 or early 2008, Namibia’s own cement plant will be in full production. Farm Cleveland in Otjiwarongo, where ARDEA Investments (Pty) Ltd plans to establish a quarry and cement plant, has 40 years’ worth of supply of raw materials to produce between 750 000 and 900 000 tonnes of cement per year. Brazilian CP Cimento and Whale Rock cc of Namibia have teamed up to form ARDEA Investments and establish a multi-million-dollar cement factory 200 metres from the quarry in the Exclusive Prospecting License (EPL) covering 1003.5 ha of marble deposits on the farm. A draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the proposed quarry and plant says raw materials that will allow Namibia to produce high quality cement are available and have been investigated, adding that Namibia’s geographical setting and its infrastructure strongly favour a sustained cement industry in the country. The plant will cost the company around N$350 million for two to three years and employ approximately 700 people during the construction phase, with 300 new jobs on site and at the plant. Many other people are expected to be employed through short contracts and services. There has been no cement production in Namibia since the closure of the one and only cement factory that was also located in Otjiwarongo in 1999. Since then, a number of studies have been carried out regarding the development of a cement factory, following which, ARDEA Investments has identified the potential for a new plant and implemented pre-feasibility studies. In keeping with government requirements, the company contracted Risk Based Solutions (RBS) to conduct an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), which is at the moment available for public review and comment at several offices. RBS will hold the first meeting on Monday, August 21, at the Otjiwarongo Municipality. After the EIA has been approved, construction of the plant will start in time to have it ready for production at the end of 2007. Since three years are needed to design and to get cement manufacturing, the company is now in its first phase where it imports and sells bagged cement from Brazil. The other phases will be packaging and manufacturing plants in Walvis Bay and Otjiwarongo. The company is also looking at markets to export the approximately 300 000 tonnes of excess cement considering that Namibia consumes 600 000 tonnes of cement every year. The draft EIA lists a number of negative impacts that the plant is likely to cause on air quality, the environment, health and safety, and surface water, as well as how the impacts could be mitigated. Due to fears that localised impacts such as dust are likely to have an overall moderate influence without mitigation, the report recommended the adoption of cleaner production, production and control practices that will reduce the likely impacts. Although negative impacts on the fauna and flora of Farm Cleveland are also inevitable, the report says the farm has been inhabited for a long time with an impact already caused by increased human activities. Communities resettled on the farm will be relocated to the two farms Marbug No.1 and Okorusu No.88, which lie within an 80 km radius from Farm Cleveland. Good planning prior to development, however, will minimise the overall effect on the local flora on the farm, it adds. Other likely negative impacts include noise pollution arising from crushing, grinding and heat stress likely to be generated as workers will be exposed to the heat from the kilns, as well as possible spillages of fuel or oil in underground water reserves. This, according to the report, will require ongoing training of employees and contractors and the use of protective clothing, which should form part of the company’s environmental awareness strategy. The report says the plant will need 130 MW of electricity, with other options being coal and other alternative fuel sources such as old tyres, and chemical waste such as used oil.