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President of the WCA encourages carbon neutrality efforts and digitalisation in the cement industry

Published by , Deputy Editor
World Cement,

Song Zhiping, President of the World Cement Association (WCA), has urged the global cement industry to continue its efforts towards carbon neutrality, but also to advance digitalisation, in a keynote speech at the WCA Open Day this month.

Mr Song looked to the future, identifying two overriding priorities for the industry, with the first being carbon neutrality. As he explained, CO2 emissions can be reduced through three key measures: reducing clinker factor, and decreasing fuel and power consumption.

“I call on cement plants in all countries and regions, all WCA members including cement manufacturers, design and research institutes to make joint actions to reduce carbon emissions. The task is challenging, but I am confident that we can do it well.”

With regards to decarbonisation, Mr Song drew attention to WCA member Anhui Conch, which has installed CCUS facilities at its Baimashan plant near the Yangtze river in eastern China. The project separates and purifies 50 000 t of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year, which Conch then sells to industrial consumers. In addition, CNBM started recently to use CO2 emitted from cement plants to nourish plants in greenhouses, as an alternative way to cut CO2 emissions.

As a second industry priority, Mr Song emphasised the importance of boosting the application of digital technologies. Implementing digital and smart technologies has undoubtedly helped to decrease manpower, improve quality but also lower costs.

“The second priority for the industry is to advance digitalisation […] Thanks to the ongoing technological progress, the cement industry has transited from automation to digitalisation. Application of digital and smart technologies has helped to decrease manpower, make operation more accurate, improve quality and lower costs.”

Mr Song highlighted CNBM’s operations in Tai’an, Zunyi and Zhejiang, where the company has applied new technologies that contribute to CO2 emissions reductions for three newly built lines. He also noted that digitalisation has transformed sales, which are increasingly on-line, for example CNBM’s ‘On-line Drive Platform’ initiative, demonstrating that the cement industry is in step with the global digitalisation trend.

Reflecting on what has been a very difficult year for the economy, Mr Song highlighted global cement volume, which stands at 4.1 billion tons, nearly equal to that of 2019. China’s cement industry performance was also good, selling 2.4 billion tons of cement, up 2.5% YoY. WCA in turn made progress, welcoming more members and climate partners over the past year, furthering the development of the association and launching a number of new digital initiatives including networking, webinars, knowledge sharing and member forums.

Mr Song also praised WCA members for coming together during the pandemic, including donating masks to cement companies in the most affected countries, showing unprecedented solidarity.

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European cement news