A world leader in building materials, Lafarge never loses its people focus and applies its unparalleled technical skills to producing sustainable solutions for better cities and a better quality of life in rural areas. However, laying the foundations for a better future in traditional ways is not a viable option and requires innovative thinking to achieve a balance between cost-effective construction solutions and the needs of people and the environment.
Lafarge South Africa, subsidiary of the international Lafarge Group, was well-prepared for the recent difficult period in the local construction industry. The company had introduced a variety of innovative cement and concrete products as well as a fleet of mobile batch plants to enable it to expand its concrete business horizons. Wherever there is a challenge to delivering concrete from existing strategically located readymix plants, the company's solution is to take a batch plant to the site.
Within or beyond its traditional geographic footprint, Lafarge South Africa's readymix team offers contractors rapid establishment of a concrete supply on site, and the assurance of consistent concrete quality with traffic congestion and long haulage distances removed from the performance equation. Combined with its technical strength to offer customised and innovative low carbon footprint extended concretes, the successful business outlook has built an impressive track record.
Solutions for water
Umgeni Water recently implemented a bulk water supply scheme as part of the vision of providing potable water to over 100 000 people in scattered rural and peri-urban communities on the Lower South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. One of the key structures was the R85million Mhlabatshane Dam on the Mhlabatshane River, situated approximately 25km inland from Ixopo.
The biggest challenge facing the project was the mountainous, single-lane access gravel road to the remote site, which made delivery of all construction materials extremely difficult and ruled out supplying concrete from any conventional fixed concrete plant in the region. "We had the right equipment and experience to tackle the job," says Lafarge's Project Manager, Marco Sebastiano. "We established one of our semi-mobile batch plants on site and were ready to produce in no time at all. This versatile unit is capable of producing an average of 450m³/day and reliably delivered the total requirement of 30 000m³ to schedule."
Solutions for durable sports facilities
Lafarge's mobile batch plants provided successful solutions to help the rapid construction of the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums. The contractors for Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium, the Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town and Nelspruit's Mbombela Stadium were able to benefit from the responsive working relationship that is possible with an on-site batch plant. In addition, Lafarge provided a wide range of concrete solutions varying from pumped, precast and post-tensioned concrete designs to the high quality durable finishes achievable with the Lafarge ArteviaTM range of decorative concretes.
Solutions for conventional power
Lafarge has been involved in the supply of the readymix concrete requirements for the construction of Medupi Power Station at Lephalale, Limpopo. It posed the challenges of a location remote from established markets, large continuous pours for the massive foundations and high ambient temperatures. When finished, it will be one of the largest dry-cooled coal-fired power stations in the world and will require over 350 000 m³ of concrete to construct.
Designed for an operational life in excess of 50 years, the use of Ash Resources' world-class Dura-Pozz® classified fly ash is contributing to highly effective concrete mix formulations. In addition, Lafarge mobile plants provided a reliable on-site service using the company's Weathermix grade of concrete, specially developed to offer extended workability in the hot conditions.
Solutions for solar power
The Lafarge mobile plants are playing a key role in developing a significant new business opportunity. Currently, the company's Readymix business line is supplying concrete for major Eskom solar power projects at Khi Solar Farm near Upington and Kaxu Solar Farm near Pofadder in the Northern Cape. "These are challenging desert locations but we had the competitive advantage of being able to deploy our mobile concrete batch plants," says Lafarge South Africa's Dave Miles, Industrial & Performance Manager Readymix. "Each project will require around 30 000m³ of concrete for the foundations and ancillary electrical installations."
Lafarge is supplying the batch plants with its premium technical cement Powercrete Plus 42,5R from the company's flagship cement facility at Lichtenburg in the North West Province, while classified siliceous fly ash is coming from the country's leading fly ash supplier, Ash Resources.
To help control heat of hydration in the mass pours for the large solar array foundations, the Readymix team is supplying its specialty UltraTM Low Heat grade of concrete formulated with 55% siliceous fly ash. The set of the concrete has to be controlled carefully to cater for ambient temperatures varying from 45°C in summer to freezing point in winter.
At the Khi Solar Farm site, work on constructing a giant 235m high solar energy collection tower began in April using 13 500m³ of Lafarge UltraTM Slide concrete in a 24/7 continuous slide.
Solutions for wind farms
In three other exciting Eskom renewable energy projects, Lafarge is deploying mobile concrete plants on site for the construction of wind farms. Work on the foundations for 67 wind turbines at Cookhouse in the Eastern Cape started in March this year and will require 30 000 m³ of concrete. The second project, located at Hopefield near Saldanha in the Western Cape, will need 18 000 m³ of concrete and is due to start in May 2013. The latest project is the Kouga wind farm, close to Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape, which is expected to require 16 000m³ of concrete.
"Our success with the solar and wind power projects, is the culmination of a protracted process that started two and a half years ago to be in the forefront of the country's investment in renewable energy," comments Miles. "We made a concerted effort to understand our customers' needs and demonstrate to them our capability to provide innovative solutions. We are proud to be involved in these renewable energy projects that will transform the lives of the people in these remote rural areas of our country."
A spin-off from the use of mobile batch plants is that they become a nucleus for local employment and skills development opportunities, such as transport requirements for distributing concrete and labour for plant operation and maintenance.
This is particularly beneficial in the isolated non-commercial areas that are the locations for these solar and wind power projects, which have high unemployment. Lafarge has engaged with local business to create jobs by training local people in plant maintenance and quality control. Good relationships have been developed with these communities through Lafarge's willingness to help uplift the local skills level.
Building for people
"Whether operating in cities or rural locations, we aim to apply our skills at being suppliers of products and solutions for sustainable construction," says Lafarge South Africa's Country CEO, Thierry Legrand. "Lafarge South Africa is continually demonstrating its ability to provide customers with innovative concrete and supply solutions, while also showing concern for the well-being of communities around project sites. Projects are for people and we pride ourselves on always creating a legacy of sustainable skills."
NOTES TO EDITORS
Located in 64 countries with 65 000 employees, Lafarge is the world-leader in building materials, with top-ranking positions in its Cement, Aggregates and Concrete businesses. In 2012, the Group posted sales of 15,8 billion Euros.
Lafarge places innovation at the heart of its priorities, working for sustainable construction and architectural creativity to help build better cities around the world: more beautiful cities that are better connected, have more housing, and are more compact and durable. Since 2010, the Lafarge Group has been part of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, the first global sustainability benchmark, in recognition of its sustainable development actions.
In South Africa, the company manufactures and supplies cement, aggregates, readymixed concrete, gypsum plasterboard and interior building fittings. It focuses on providing solutions to help the sustainable development of better cities that benefit the country's people. Through having a strong presence in all of its business lines, it is in a unique position to contribute to urban construction, while also helping to build better rural towns and villages.
Lafarge South Africa also demonstrates active concern for the conservation of the country's wildlife heritage and is a major supporter of the world's first dedicated baby rhino orphanage in Limpopo Province. The Group has for many years been a leader in sustainable development and was the first industrial group to enter into a worldwide ‘Conservation Partnership' with the environmental protection organisation, WWF International.
Additional information is available on the website at www.lafarge.co.za
For further information, please contact:
Country Communications Manager
011 657 0000
Bridget von Holdt
011 646 9992 / 0826100650