FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

To keep neighbouring communities informed, Lafarge Exshaw meets regularly with a Public Advisory Committee, hosts a series of open house events and shares updates through its website and newsletter. Lafarge uses these initiatives to answer questions related to emissions, air quality, economics, carbon tax, health impacts, job creation, storage, research transparency and more.

Here are a few of the frequently asked questions:

Is the Government of Alberta carbon tax driving this project?
The carbon tax is a very compelling reason for developing the plan to replace fossil fuels. It is designed to push industry to use lower carbon fuels. But, it isn’t the only factor. Lafarge has made a global commitment to implement measures to reduce greenhouse gases and the use of lower carbon fuels is an important tool to reach this goal. By 2030, LafargeHolcim wants to produce 40 per cent less net CO2 per tonne of cement than we did in 1990, helping us remain the most CO2 efficient global business in our sector. We can help achieve this goal by using more lower carbon fuels and reducing the amount of fossil fuels used — also reducing emissions from fossil fuel mining and transportation.
What is the cost difference between Lower Carbon Fuels and coal or natural gas?
While a lower cost is anticipated over time, significant investment is required to re-tool the plant to use lower carbon fuels. Lafarge and its partners will need to invest over $20 million to build the supply chain and the fuel handling systems required. Investment includes equipment to collect, transport, process and store the fuel as well as the handling and injection equipment. There are also ongoing expenses including maintenance and operating costs, supply chain management, quality control and compliance with permitting and environmental requirements. As the use of lower carbon fuels is more accepted by industry, the demand may exceed the supply for some streams, which may increase prices. This is partly addressed by having a wide variety of fuel categories tested for future use. Additionally, carbon pricing will raise the price of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas) and lower carbon fuels will be more competitive.
Would dust travel to Banff or Canmore with the use of alternative fuels?
No, dust would not travel to Banff or Canmore with the use of lower carbon fuels. Lafarge must comply with emissions regulations established by the Government of Alberta. The authorization to use lower carbon fuels is based on the principle of no significant increase in stack emissions, while continuing to meet the same or more stringent emission limits. This is true for dust and other potential pollutants.
How much will this reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
This is a central question in the research project and the final answers will be published. Earlier work has indicated that some fuels — such as construction, renovation, and demolition materials — can reduce carbon emissions by over 90 per cent for every tonne of coal replaced. This assessment considered reduced emissions from coal mining, transportation, and processing.
If you do not end up burning these fuels, is there no carbon emitted?
If these materials are not used as fuels they may be landfilled or incinerated, producing CH4 and CO2. Replacing traditional fuels with lower carbon fuels produces less CO2 globally.
How difficult it is to burn coal in the facility as opposed to natural gas?
Currently, we are permitted to burn coal on both Kiln 5 and Kiln 6. Burning coal on Kiln 5 is more maintenance intensive than burning natural gas. Kiln 6 would need to be upgraded to burn coal because it is not currently setup to do so. Lafarge has the equipment required and will install it if coal becomes a more economic option. We are permitted to burn both coal and natural gas will keep the flexibility to run both.
Why were these lower carbon fuels chosen?
The fuel categories selected are based on a study of what types of materials are available in Alberta. The fuels chosen are currently in use at other cement plants and are expected to have benign effects on emissions while producing benefits such as lower carbon emissions, less landfilling and new jobs.
If fuel is only half of the carbon, how will you work towards capturing the rest?
Lafarge is exploring a large range of options, including low carbon cements, carbon consuming concretes, energy efficiency and working with our customers to use sustainable building solutions.
What are the health impacts related to the different fuels? Long-term and short-term.
A Human Health Risk Assessment will outline the nature and magnitude of short-term and long-term health risks from the use of different lower carbon fuels. The assessment will be done for inhalation and exposure through food, water, soil and/or skin. The use of lower carbon fuels is not expected, based on earlier work, to result in material changes to emissions from the plant.
Would you be able to create jobs in the Bow Valley processing materials?
There would be 4 to 8 direct jobs at the Lafarge Exshaw Cement Plant involved in the processing of materials. Jobs will be created at all points in the supply chain from collection, processing, equipment sales and maintenance, contractors, management and construction activities.
Why can't the plastic be recycled?
Many plastics are collected and recycled with great efficiency. However, some plastics are comprised of mixed materials that are not economically recyclable. Other plastics are not recycled due to market limitations or other technical and economic factors. Landfill bound plastics are the target fuel supply stream for the Exshaw plant. There are studies that show that the introduction of fuel use to the suite of waste management solutions available supports recycling. An additional factor that generates non-recyclable plastics is contamination of plastic. Recyclers need to meet strict quality standards for resale, plastic that gets impregnated with sand or glass from collection cannot be used and is rejected. Material that cannot be recycled is typically landfilled. For many materials, there is simply no demand for reuse when they reach end of life.

For a full list of questions from the community, click here.