ASCOM Calcium Carbonate Plant, El-Minya Industrial Zone, Egypt


ASCOM Carbonate and Chemical Manufacturing (ACCM) unveiled plans for production at its calcium carbonate plant in El-Minya, Egypt on 9 April 2009.

ACCM's €20m calcium carbonate plant has a production capacity of 180,000t per year. Located in the El-Minya industrial zone in the El-Metahra area of Egypt, the plant is ACCM's first foray into raw materials manufacturing.

The first phase of the plant is expected to generate 180 direct jobs and another 1,000 indirect employment opportunities.

Construction

Construction of the plant began in October 2006. The company partnered with Hosokawa Alpine to construct the plant. Hosokawa Alpine will provide German grinding technology for manufacturing calcium carbonate.

"The plant is ACCM's first foray into raw materials manufacturing."

The main contractor for constructing the plant is ASEC Manufacturing & Industrial Projects (ARESCO), a subsidiary of Arab Swiss Engineering Company (ASEC) based in Egypt. The company is a key contractor serving the cement, power, petroleum and infrastructure sectors and other heavy industries.

Technology

Spread across an area of 17,000ft² the plant is expected to produce calcium carbonate in 3-30-micron specifications. The calcium carbonate produced by the plant is commonly used as a filling material in the production of products such as paper, ceramics and rubber.

The plant is equipped with two mills, two classifiers, two superfine mills, crushers, a coating machine for treating with stearic acid and packing machines. Using the grinding technology provided by Hosokawa Alpine, huge blocks of calcium carbonate are put through a complex grinding procedure to produce a powder uniform in particle size.

The plant produces coated and normal types of calcium carbonate. Coated calcium carbonate powder is produced by spraying it with stearic acid at an elevated temperature. This is done in a specially designed machine.

The calcium carbonate produced will be of a whiteness degree of 95.5%, one of its kind in the world. ACCM expects the purity of the deposit and the technology used in grinding to provide the company with a competitive edge. About 50% of the plant's production will be exported to the European and Gulf markets, while the rest will be sold in the local market.

ACCM's operations in El-Minya will provide it with access to one of the biggest calcium carbonate deposits in the world. The quality of the deposit is considered second only to that in Italy's Carrara region.

ACCM has also begun operations at a calcium carbonate quarry spread over 330,000m². It is located 25km from the plant. Calcium carbonate treatment results in a natural by-product of limestone. Since it is a natural material the waste is dumped in a specially agreed dumping site provided by the local municipality.

Owners/financing

The Egyptian government has recently stressed on the importance of creating investment opportunities and generating employment in the Upper Egypt area.

"The calcium carbonate produced will be of a whiteness degree of 95.5%."

The new plant is one of the many projects that have the government's support. The Egyptian government has been encouraging companies to set up facilities in the country's industrial zones. Projects set up in these zones are given high importance to enable transfer of technology and innovation. These zones also support the creation of clusters of an industry.

The El-Metahra industrial zone is one of the 39 different industrial zones. These zones are located within 19 governorates.

Spread across an area of 160 million square metres, land in these zones is apportioned free to companies for new projects. However, the companies have to accept the condition that they will complete the work on the projects and begin production.

Future plans

To explore Egypt's rich natural resources ACCM is planning to start additional plants in Egypt and the MENA regions in the future.

The company has secured an initial approval for 10,000m² of land to set up a second calcium carbonate plant. The second plant is projected to exceed the production capacity of the first calcium carbonate plant.