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Sector overview

The manufacture of cement involves a number of highly polluting activities, from the mining of raw materials such as limestone, to the use of extremely high temperatures to produce cement powder, and the waste products generated by this process. The vast global demand for cement means that the scale of these activities has serious environmental implications. The cement industry requires high energy consumption to mine, manufacture and transport cement. These activities result in the release of carbon dioxide, dioxins, NOₓ, SO₂ and particulates, all of which are dangerous air pollutants. The cement industry now also increasingly makes use of hazardous waste – including used solvents, spent tyres and sewerage sludge – as fuel for cement kilns.

Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC), Afrisam and Lafarge control the largest shares of the cement market in South Africa.1 PPC is the only one of these three companies which features on the JSE SRI.

Primary legislation

National Environmental Management Act
National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act
National Environmental Management: Waste Act
National Water Act
Environment Conservation Act

Pursuant to these pieces of legislation, cement companies are required to obtain licences to carry out various regulated activities, including, inter alia, environmental authorisations, atmospheric emission licences, waste management licences and water use licences.  The mining of limestone and other raw materials used in cement manufacturing also requires mining and associated licences, governed by the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

Voluntary guidelines have also been published by the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI). The CSI is “a global effort by 24 major cement producers with operations in more than 100 countries who believe there is a strong business case for the pursuit of sustainable development”.2 According to the CSI’s website, the purpose of the CSI is to:

  • Explore what sustainable development means for the cement industry;
  • Identify actions and facilitate steps cement companies can take, individually and as a group, to accelerate progress toward sustainable development;
  • Provide a framework for other cement companies to become involved;
  • Create the content and context for further stakeholder engagement.3