Holcim US Inc. has plans to invest $100 million in a modernization of its Ada cement plant, Robin DeCarlo, vice president of Holcim corporate communications, told The Ada News exclusively Friday.
The company, one of the largest suppliers of portland, blended cements and related mineral components in the United States, submitted an application for a permit to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality earlier this week and expects to begin upgrading its facilities in Ada between October and December 2014.
“We can’t start without a permit from DEQ,” DeCarlo said. She didn’t release many specific details about the modernization but indicated it would include upgrading the kiln line. DeCarlo said the company will release more details once the permit hurdle has been cleared.
“We are expecting there will be approximately 250 temporary jobs during the modernization phase, which will have a direct and positive impact on the Ada economy,” said DeCarlo. “The modernization will increase our plant’s capacity in Ada by about 20 percent.”
Ada business leaders have indicated this will be one of the largest projects — if not the largest — in Oklahoma this year. Holcim US Inc. has facilities across the country, with its corporate headquarters located just outside of Boston, Massachusetts.
DeCarlo noted the modernization of the kiln line will meet “all known environmental regulations and reduce all major regulated emissions,” even with the increased plant capacity. Holcim’s plant in Ada currently employs about 120 people.
State Rep. Todd Thomsen said, “The significance of what Holcim is proposing to do would be a significant long-term investment in Ada and in the state. It would really place Ada in the forefront of their operations for this part of the nation. If they are able to do what they want to do, they would basically restructure, modify and upgrade their system that would make it a state-of-the-art facility.”
Thomsen also noted that the plant would exceed EPA regulations, making it an “environmentally friendly and efficient facility.”
The modernization of Holcim’s kiln line in Ada would make it “one of the key producers of cement in this region and the primary producer of cement in the state of Oklahoma,” Thomsen said.
“Holcim has been a quality employer in Ada and with them making such a significant contribution to the Ada economy, it represents a huge win for Ada, which is already known as a business-friendly community,” said Thomsen.
The Ada area has significant limestone deposits that are used to make the cement. Thomsen said the stone is easily accessible, and “the life expectancy of that natural resource is pretty significant and it’s close by.”
State Sen. Susan Paddack said she was “thrilled about the plant expansion” and that the modernization will be “good for Ada, good for our area and good for the state.” It is one of the most significant investments in the state this year, she added.
Mike Southard, CEO of Ada Jobs Foundation, said, “We’ve been talking about this modernization and upgrading of the Holcim plant since I came here almost seven years ago. I have been to their corporate headquarters three years ago and we talked about it then, and the U.S. head of their operations was here last year. The CEO brought it up at dinner when he was here. A $100 mllion capital investment anywhere in Oklahoma will be huge, from temporary construction jobs to what I take the most pride in — and this is the long-term sustaintability of the facility.”
Southard said if Holcim is going to make that investment, the plant is obviously not going to close in 10 or 20 years.
“Employees and future employees can see this as a stable investment in the community,” Southard noted. “Holcim has invested a lot in the community that is not business related. Holcim on Wednesday nights sponsors an ACT prep course for area high school students. They have been very active in Boys and Girls Club. They are active in the Career Discovery program (for Grade 8-11 students). Holcim has scholarships at East Central University. They work with the Latta DECCA program. Holcim’s footprint is on a lot of things within the community.”
Southard said Holcim projects the quarry, which is located about 15 miles south of town, has about a 100-year supply of limestone. The Holcim plant is located on the west side of Ada where the big smokestacks are.
“For a number of years, the conveyor belt that stretched from the quarry to their facility was the longest continuous conveyor belt in the world,” said Southard.
The Holcim plant reuses more than 3 million old scrap tires a year to power its facility as a supplemental fuel, in addition to coal and natural gas, according to Southard.