Essroc’s $500 Million Upgrade Nearly Complete

(Martinsburg, West Virginia) — A $500 million upgrade at Essroc Cement Corp, the fifth largest cement producer worldwide, is likely to be completed later this year.

The project commenced in 2006 and is the largest financial investment in North America for Essroc Italcementi Group. Essroc, headquartered in Nazareth, Pa., purchased the local facility from Capital Cement in 2002.

Derek Nicholls, corporate vice president of operations, declared the investment as beneficial for the local plant and its employees as well as the community. Because of the modernization, the South Queen Street facility also will be the company’s flagship plant in North America, Nicholls said.

The new plant’s mechanical construction is 80 percent complete, while the electrical and communications component is about 50 percent complete. The dominating features of the new plant will be the pre-heater tower, which will be 500 feet tall when it’s completed in August, and the neighboring kiln feed silo, which is 260 feet tall and was constructed of concrete.

The project will create an influx of an additional 700 to 1,000 contractual workers, depending on specific construction needs.

Even with the technological improvements, the plant should have from 125 to 150 full-time equivalent positions when work is completed later this year, Nicholls said.

“As a result, these are good jobs for people for the next several decades at least,” he said.

Plant Manager Paul Biel said the timing of the company’s investment was just perfect. “This has been a nice big influx of money into the community when it has been at this low economic point, so even though it wasn’t planned that way, the timing has been good,” Biel said. He praised how Essroc’s efforts at assisting local employees make this transition.

Technological advancements also have a major impact on the plant’s cement production process, because it will employ all state-of-the-art technology, Biel said.

“This is a three-kiln line operation currently, which means it takes three complete sets of equipment to produce a single clinker (an ingredient used to make cement). The new system is a single-kiln line, so you’re reducing huge amounts of equipment within the plant,” he said.

“The footprint of the new plant is much smaller and much more efficient,” Biel said.
It is anticipated that plant output will double from 650,000 tons of clinker annually to 1.6 million tons, which will be ground to produce 1.8 million tons of cement annually.

By:  Rashmi Kalia [ARIC- News]

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