AfriSam working to keep ‘planet’ front-of-mind

AfriSam composite cements contain not only clinker but other cementitious materials, such as fly ash from power stations and ground granulated blast-furnace slag (GGBS) from steel-making plants. (Image Supplied.)

As the first cement manufacturer in southern Africa to publish an environmental policy – as early as 1994 – environmental concerns are a central mandate for the AfriSam management team.

Managing water

Water is a key focus for the company across its cement, readymix concrete and aggregate divisions. At the cement operations, considerable water volumes are required for dust suppression and other purposes – so rainwater is collected and stored in sumps, as well as in the mining areas. This is used to meet many of the plant requirements, to the extent that the Ulco plant near Barkly West in the Northern Cape does not rely on municipal water supply. Drawing a limited volume from the Vaal River, the operation treats water for its own use, including potable water, thus reducing reliance on the already stressed municipal system.

Emissions

As part of the global effort to reduce carbon emissions and put the brakes on climate change, AfriSam has taken several approaches over the past 20 years to reduce its carbon footprint. These range from the development of composite (or extended) cements to ongoing energy-efficiency initiatives at its cement plants.

The company has for many years been a leader in the development of composite cements. These cements contain not only clinker but other cementitious materials, such as fly ash from power stations and ground granulated blast-furnace slag (GGBS) from steel-making plants.

In addition to essentially reusing waste products from other industries, this process also reduces the amounts of limestone that AfriSam has to mine and clinker it has to produce, again reducing carbon emissions from those processes, as well as reducing waste to landfill.

Less waste

AfriSam has established more aggressive recycling targets, encouraging all operations to increase their reuse and recycling of general waste and thereby reducing the amount of waste destined for landfill.

At the readymix concrete sites, for instance, unused concrete that is returned from construction sites is taken to the nearest AfriSam quarry to be re-crushed and reused at a later stage. This recycled aggregate and crushed cementitious material can then – in consultation with the customer – be used to augment aggregate orders.

This process reduces the amount of aggregate that needs to be mined and crushed, saving energy and reducing associated dust and carbon emissions. It also removes unsightly waste concrete from the surface environment and again reduces waste to landfill.

Environmental stewardship is today an integral part of any responsible business, representing the seriousness with which AfriSam views its role as custodians of our overburdened planet on behalf of future generations.

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