"Environmental policy requirements present German cement manufacturers with some major challenges," said Gerhard Hirth, President of the German Cement Works Association (VDZ) on opening the conference. "The current amendment to the Technical Instructions on Air Quality Control, the future limit values for nitrogen oxides and the EU proposals for a structural reform of European emissions trading are just some examples of the extra technological and economic demands we are going to be confronted with in future at national and European level. We cement manufacturers accept these challenges but at the same time we expect a reliable political framework to ensure the long-term competitiveness of cement production in Germany."
On top of this, German cement manufacturers are contending with a subdued market situation at present. "The positive overall economic trend is not yet fully reflected by the domestic market, so that if anything we are anticipating a decline in cement consumption for the current year," according to Hirth. Nevertheless, there are signs of a positive boost to demand in the medium-term from the increasing need for new housing and a higher level of investment by the state in the transport infrastructure.
In the course of the evening ceremony at the annual cement conference, VDZ President Gerhard Hirth awarded the Safety at Work prize for 2014. Out of a total of 24 prize-winners, 13 clinker-producing cement works and 7 grinding works were able to look back on a whole year without any single industrial accident. Since 1977 VDZ has been awarding an annual Safety at Work prize to honour the commitment of its members, to help motivate the workforce and to promote general safety awareness in the various plants. It has led to a more than 70 per cent reduction in the accident frequency rate at the works since 1969.
VDZ is the joint organisation of the German cement manufacturers. The 20 member companies together operate 50 cement works in Germany, employing around 7,900 people and generating an annual turnover of a good 2.5 billion euros. Six German companies and 28 businesses in other countries are also associate members of VDZ. Since the association was established more than 135 years ago, its research work has helped to make cement production both competitive and ecological and contributed towards the development of high-quality concrete construction methods.
The next annual conference is scheduled for September 2016.