Sustainability no elusive quarry for brickmaker

13 March 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201913888

Construction, Civil & Structural Engineering
Green Industries & Renewable Energy
Mining & Quarrying

WHILE many organisations are scrambling to meet increasingly stringent sustainability legislations, Corobrik continues to exceed expectations by implementing advanced technologies and forward-thinking approaches to keep ahead of the curve.

That’s according to Commercial Director Musa Shangase, who cited the rehabilitation of the company’s Rinaldo Road Quarry in Durban as an example of such a sustainable undertaking. He said that in the company’s history, spanning over a century, it had always sought to rehabilitate its quarries, either back to their original use or for other economic activities.

“Land from rehabilitated quarries is used for a variety of purposes, including office space, factories and warehousing – as can be seen at Briardene in Durban North – or retail space as was done at Liberty Midlands Mall in the Pietermaritzburg region. In the Western Cape, one rehabilitated quarry is now a wine farm and upmarket housing estate.”

This practice predates the current the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) of 2014. The Rinaldo Road Quarry, which supplied shale to the Avoca factories and was mined from the early 1990s until 2015. Further examples of this are the old Crown Mines and Effingham factory sites.

Alongside the quarry rehabilitation, the company has invested in green equipment, including extrusion technology at all its factories.This has allowed for enhanced product quality and dematerialisation that translates into significant energy reductions. Savings of 20% in drying and firing energy, reduced diesel use and an 8% reduction in mortar use are some of its sustainable achievements.

Further energy savings have been made following the implementation of advanced robotics at Corobrik’s Rietvlei, Lawley and East Brick factories. Through production flexibility, the company can lower the demand on the energy grid during peak hours while also optimising the amount of energy needed for brick production.Teams working on power correction interventions and modifying shift activities are managing to reduce electrical energy use even further.

Corobrik converted from a coal-fired to natural gas-fired kiln at its Lawley Factory, reducing emissions while also earning the company the Certificates of Emissions Reductions by the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism – a first for any South African company. This decreasing carbon footprint is made smaller by the recycling of burnt brick waste which can be used for road building or the manufacture of concrete products.

“The daily effects of global warming are now impacting the lives of people everywhere, and it is both a moral and legal obligation for companies to implement green practices,” said Shangase.

“Corobrik’s overriding principle has always been to minimise environmental impact wherever possible. This has seen us researching best practices and techniques worldwide, and investing in the latest technology, all to reduce Corobrik’s carbon footprint.”

Shangase said that in July 2018, Corobrik’s KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng factories undertook comprehensive certification audits.

“All of them retained their ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems) and OHSAS (Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems) 18001 certification. We envisage that within the next couple of years, our factories in the Free State and Mpumalanga will also achieve these certifications.” He added that sustainable production process has resulted in a sustainable product. The clay bricks rate highly with respect to their energy efficiency in terms of thermal properties and durability.

“We have adopted the ‘Good Business Framework. This programme broadens the depth of understanding and commitment within the business from a sustainability perspective. We will continue to research and invest in lowering environmental impact in production while creating an energy-efficient product that benefits the consumer.”

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