China embraces alternative fuels

Lots of fascinating information has been emerging in recent weeks about changes in the Chinese cement industry as the larger producers have published their annual financial results. One example is the focus on using alternative fuels to fire up kilns. As explained below, the spotlight on co-processing is state-mandated and this is why the producers are now keen to promote their adherence. Even so, as ever with China, the scale of the change is staggering.

For example, Anhui Conch reported that it had completed 15 waste treatment projects and one sludge treatment project in 2016. In addition it had three projects still undergoing construction at the year-end. The group said that it co-processed 600,000t of domestic waste in its cement kilns in 2016. All of this was achieved by a company that says it only started co-processing municipal waste from its first project in 2010. China Resources Cement’s (CRC) progress was slower but it managed to start a co-processing project at its plant in Binyang County, Guangxi in December 2015 and a sludge project in Nanning City, Guangxi in July 2016. New projects at Tianyang County, Guangxi and Midu County, Yunnan are being built at present, with completion expected by the end of 2017.

Long held rumours about production overcapacity in China came to head in 2015 with the National Bureau of Statistics in China (NBSC) reporting that sales dropped in 2015 following a decade of steady growth. Then the results of most of major producers followed this by falling in 2015. CRC presented a good history of what happened next in the Chinese cement industry in its results report [LINK]. In brief, in 2016 the Chinese government implemented supply-side structural reforms focusing on production efficiency, reiterating attempts to stop new production capacity being built and pushing environmental reforms. Throughout the year various government offices released guidelines to encourage market consolidation, cut obsolete production capacity, increase co-processing rates and decrease the energy needed to produce each tonne of clinker.

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