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15 Jan 2024

UK energy minister visits cement works to explore decarbonisation

The UK Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance Lord Callanan visited Rugby cement works in Warwickshire on Friday 12 January to gain an insight into the actions needed to decarbonise the UK’s ‘dispersed’ cement plants.

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) and operators of Rugby cement works Cemex, hosted the visit to highlight the challenges and opportunities for decarbonising dispersed plants like Rugby, which are located too far from other large production plants to be included in one of the net zero industrial clusters.

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Being part of an industrial cluster allows plant operators to work together, pool resources and pitch for the available Government funding to support decarbonisation. Yet only half of the UK’s 10 cement plants are currently within clusters and some, like Rugby, are too isolated from other industries to be part of a cluster. Decarbonisation at dispersed plants is just as vital as those within clusters if the UK is to meet its net zero ambitions.

The Government recently published its vision for an industry-led carbon capture sector in the UK and is already funding studies into on-site carbon storage through the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund. A formula for low-carbon cement is also under development, with £3.2m Government funding provided to the MPA to undertake this work. The Minister and MPA discussed the need to keep working together with manufacturers to deliver net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said:

“We have a strong cement industry here in the UK which is vital to our infrastructure, housing and urban regeneration. The Government has recently published its blueprint for a carbon capture industry, to assist important sectors such as cement manufacturing to reach net zero while supporting our construction needs. It was excellent to hear from leaders here in Rugby, a cement heartland in its own right, about the impact of this work and I look forward to continuing this dialogue with UK cement producers.”

Dr Diana Casey, MPA’s Executive Director for Energy and Climate Change said:

“Global cement companies are taking decisions on long-term investments now and the UK needs to attract that investment to ensure we have a secure supply of low carbon cement for future construction and infrastructure needs. The visit was a welcome opportunity to show the commitment of the UK cement sector to decarbonising dispersed sites and to press on the Minister the urgent need for enabling policies, like a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and a longer-term business model for carbon capture including viable transport and storage options suitable for dispersed sites like Rugby.”

Lex Russell, MPA Chair and Managing Director of Cemex UK Materials said:

“Net zero is achievable in our industry. It is fantastic to see the progress that is being made on the MPA UK concrete and cement industry’s roadmap to beyond net zero; however we need Government to support with policies that ensure ongoing investment is possible and operators are able to meet their targets to support a net zero economy.”

Cemex’s Rugby cement works has pioneered the use of alternative fuels, including a multimillion pound investment in 2022 to eliminate fossil fuel use in favour of waste derived alternatives, a key part of the firm’s efforts to decarbonize its operations and achieve net-zero CO2 cement and concrete by 2050.


About the Mineral Products Association:
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is the trade association for the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and industrial sand industries. With the merger of British Precast, and affiliation of the British Association of Reinforcement (BAR), the British Calcium Carbonate Federation, the Cement Admixtures Association (CAA), CONSTRUCT, Eurobitume, MPA Northern Ireland, MPA Scotland and the UK Quality Ash Association (UKQAA), it has a growing membership of 520 companies and is the sectoral voice for mineral products. MPA membership is made up of the vast majority of independent SME quarrying companies throughout the UK, as well as the 9 major international and global companies. It covers 100% of UK cement and lime production, 90% of GB aggregates production, 95% of asphalt and over 70% of ready-mixed concrete and precast concrete production. In 2021, the industry supplied £22 billion worth of materials and services to the Economy. It is also the largest supplier to the construction industry, which had annual output valued at £178 billion. Industry production represents the largest materials flow in the UK economy and is also one of the largest manufacturing sectors.

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