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OPTERRA outlines its ‘Future cement from Wössingen’ project

Published by , Deputy Editor
World Cement,

Extending the existing and examining new deposits – this is what the planning of the OPTERRA cement plant is all about, in order to ensure medium to long-term continuity. Both the expansion of an active quarry and the development of new deposits are complex processes with numerous participants. Long-term planning is essential. On 23 March 2021, OPTERRA presented the project to the public for the first time.

With the ‘Future cement from Wössingen’ project, OPTERRA lays the foundation for ensuring that short distances will still be one of the advantages that the building material offers in 20 to 30 years' time. Transporting limestone, the most important raw material for cement, over long distances is neither ecologically nor economically sensible. A quarry must therefore be in the immediate vicinity of the plant.

The Lugenberg quarry, which has been active since the late 1980s, has reached its approved limit in the east. As part of the project presented, the Wössingen cement works is aiming to expand the mining area. For this purpose, the border is to be moved by a strip about 150 m wide with an area of around 11 ha.

In the first step, the area must be designated in the regional plan as a priority area for the extraction of mineral raw materials. This is followed by the approval process, in which the framework conditions for the dismantling are specified. Only then – in about ten years – could the expansion begin.

A second focus of the project includes exploratory drilling in the vicinity of the plant. The boreholes in the forests of the Am Sulzweg and Grundreisig tubs are intended to provide information on whether the quality of the limestone beneath these areas is suitable for cement production.

In particular, the exploratory drilling requires the approval of the licensing authority. If the evaluation shows that mining in the affected areas would be economically feasible, a large number of steps are still necessary: In addition to considering a possible new mining area in the regional plan, the municipality of Walzbachtal must also approve the project.

A possible approval procedure also defines the framework conditions for the protection of people and nature. The re-opening of a quarry would then be possible in around 20 to 30 years.

After the project was presented to the local council on 23 March 2021, residents will now be informed in a special edition of the neighbourhood newspaper ‘Dialog’. As soon as possible, there will also be live events such as factory tours, tours through the quarry or information stands, where interested parties can talk to representatives of the plant about the project in person.

It is important for the management and plant management to communicate openly and transparently with all those involved from the start, both about the planned expansion and about the exploratory drilling. “We are aware that this is a very complex process. It is therefore our aim to explain the individual steps in a timely and comprehensible manner. We welcome the constructive dialogue with everyone involved and rely on trusting cooperation,” says Plant Manager Stephan Schenk.

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