Holcim Looking At Westport Geological Reserves

25 July 2007

Holcim New Zealand, as part of its work on its Westport new cement plant option, is investigating the energy, geology and limestone reserves required as well as the port operations and logistics.

"As we announced in May we have one medium-term and two long-term options to meet the projected growth in demand for cement in New Zealand," says Paul Commons, General Manager, Strategy and Development for Holcim New Zealand.

"While the existing Westport plant is running well it is unable to meet this projected demand."

The medium-term option is to continue with the existing Westport plant, with an appropriate maintenance and capital works programme, in combination with supporting imports on a bulk basis.

The two long-term options are either a new plant at Westport or a new plant at Weston, near Oamaru.

"We are working on narrowing the three options to two, which will be put forward to our parent company, Holcim Ltd, to decide. A decision is not expected, however, to be made before 2008."

"At Westport we are investigating and estimating the volume of raw materials that would be required to support a new cement plant.

"While there is a lot of information as a result of the 50-year operation of the existing limestone quarry, we need an accurate understanding of the geology of the wider area in order to provide robust and accurate estimates of the volume of limestone and other materials that would be available to support a long-term cement operation."

The investigatory work includes: raw material sampling; investigatory drilling programmes; computer modelling; quarry planning; restoration plans, as well as tapping the practical experience of Holcim staff and consultants.

"Part of the work involves looking at the geochemistry of the raw materials, as cement-making requires specific chemical components."

Some chemicals and compounds naturally contained in raw materials enhance the cement-making process, while certain chemicals or elements can hinder the process. Limestone and other materials must therefore be tested for their geochemical composition which includes measuring alkali metal contents, moisture levels, iron, alumina, silica, as well as other elements and compounds.

"The physical properties of limestone and other materials are also being assessed, as this will affect how the raw materials can be mined, including the stripping of overburden, stockpiling, material crushing, restoration of mined areas and mitigation measures."

For more information contact:
Gerald Raymond
Phone 027 443-7253