Innovation 3/14/07 #41

LafargeHolcim: Building North American Cities with Marine Transport

LafargeHolcim provides the building blocks of our cities – the construction materials used in everything from buildings to bridges, roads and sidewalks to airport runways. And if you live in the eight states and two provinces that border the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River waterway – it’s likely those materials were transported at some point by ship.  

“We use Great Lakes-St. Lawrence ships to transport cement and aggregates to many major cities on the Great Lakes, from Superior, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo to Windsor, Hamilton, Toronto and everywhere in between,” says Chuck Hriczak, Marine Operations Manager, LafargeHolcim U.S.

“Many of our products are used in the nation’s largest infrastructure projects. For example, our company transported aggregates by ship that were used to build the bridge bases in Canada and the United States for the Gordie Howe International Bridge. We also plan to supply cement for the bridge deck.”

LafargeHolcim owns a small fleet of cement ships (which are managed by a third-party operator) and also contracts with ship operators to transport aggregates from its four stone quarries in the region.

Without marine shipping, adds Hriczak, LafargeHolcim would need to use rail or truck which is less environmentally friendly and significantly increases cost – affecting the company’s competitiveness. Its four stone quarries are completely reliant on water transportation with no rail access.

“Marine for us is the most costeffective way to get our quality products to market. It also has the least environmental impact of all transportation modes. That also aligns with our environmental objective to be environmentally conscious,” says Hriczak. “Research studies show ships are more fuel-efficient and produce less carbon emissions per ton-kilometre than rail and trucks.”

Since 1990, LafargeHolcim has decreased its net carbon emissions per tonne of cement by 25 per cent and continues to reduce its footprint by using lower carbon-producing materials, using alternative fuels during production and improving the efficiency of its operations.