Ohorongo Rotary Kiln Fired Up

Two months ahead of schedule Ohorongo fired up the rotary kiln and produced the first clinker in Namibia’s only cement factory. This milestone heralds the beginning of the cement production process and Namibia’s independence from cement imports.

In a record time of 22 months the investment in access of 2.5 billion N$ by Schwenk Zement KG to construct Africa’s most modern cement plant was brought to a success ahead of schedule and, according to Ohorongo management, the first cement may be expected early next year.

The raw materials limestone, shale and marl mined at the Ohorongo quarry, are burned in the kiln at temperatures exceeding 1.500 degrees Celsius to produce clinker, the intermediate product to the final product. Together with gypsum that is sourced at a mine close to Swakopmund the clinker granules are milled to manufacture cement.

The composition of the raw material mix is carefully monitored to ensure a high and consistent quality of the cement, the main priority of Ohorongo. To guarantee quality, Ohorongo invested in an ultra-modern laboratory that allows the analysis of raw materials.

Plant Manager Jürgen Hilger indicates: “Controlling the quality of our product is a central part of the cement production process. The quality of our product is monitored continuously which is the responsibility of the quality assurance department, one of the largest divisions in the company.”

According to Hilger, samples of raw material mixes and clinker are analysed on a continuous basis to ensure the highest quality of the end product.

The commissioning of the kiln is only the latest step in a long line of achievements, starting with the Groundbreaking in February 2009, the first blast at the Ohorongo quarry in March 2010 and the arrival of the first 40.000 tons of coal on site to fuel the kiln.

The plant will use a total of 70.000 tons of coal during the first 12 months after which it will start loo kingat environmentally friendly alternatives for fuel. Schütte said: “To confirm that our plant is running at the performance specified by our main contractor Polysius, during the period of production we will only use pure coal in our rotary kiln. After that, we plan to follow the example of our mother company who has replaced more than 80% of coal with alternative fuels such as plastics and municipal waste. At this point, for Namibia we are especially investigating the use of wood chips as coal replacement.”

“It is a very exciting time for us, being ahead of schedule in commissioning Africa’s most modern cement plant,” said Managing Director of Ohorongo Cement, Mr Hans-Wilhelm Schütte, “the production process has started and we can continue to build on the already strong foundations.”

The plant, currently Namibia’s only cement plant, will be inaugurated by President Hifikepunye Pohamba during an official ceremony on the 3rd of February 2011.

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