By Menna Zaki
The Suez Cement Company announced plans Sunday to invest EGP 300m to convert two out of its four plants to use coal rather than natural gas following a controversial government decision to import the pollution-heavy fuel as a means of addressing power shortages.
The conversion process for each plant will cost around EGP 150m, said Mohammed Shanan, the cement company’s business development director.
Another company source estimated the overhaul will take between 6 to 8 months.
The company is still waiting for final approval from the Ministry of Environment to use coal in the production of cement, the company source said.
The production capacity of the Suez Cement Company fell 50% during the first quarter of this year as a result of fuel shortages, which has led to a 50% decline in sales, Al-Borsa reported.
The Egyptian Cabinet approved the use of coal for power generation last month, despite the disapproval of Minister of Environment Laila Iskandar, in response to protests from factories. The Egyptian government had cut natural gas supply to factories in an attempt to conserve energy resources.
A number of nongovernmental organisations, including the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, condemned the decision to use coal in a statement last month, forecasting that it will have “devastating consequences on health and the economy.”
The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, with support from the Doctor’s Syndicate, has filed a lawsuit against interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb, President Adly Mansour, and the ministers of trade, petroleum, electricity, and environmental affairs in an attempt to block the use of coal in Egypt.