Environmental minister slams plans for cement industry to rely on coal
Minister of Environment Laila Iskandar - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Minister of Environment Laila Iskandar criticized Friday statements by Minister of Industry Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, who said that Egypt’s cement companies would use coal instead of natural gas within the next six months to forestall the energy crisis.

“Allowing factories to run on coal would need years and not just six months” Iskandar told Youm7 Monday.

Iskandar stressed  also that cement plants which are operating using natural gas do not abide by the imposed environmental criteria, and that with changing the current energy mix, new criteria should be applied, to focus on renewable energy.

Member of Building Material Chamber at the Federation of Egyptian industries Ahmed Shebl told The Cairo Post Friday that the shifting process from natural gas to coal would take between one and two years in order to find a suitable port for cement factories and the factories suggested to finance the port and transport the coal on trucks to the factories.

Officials have been warning for months that domestic supplies of oil and gas are insufficient to cover the needs of industry and household consumption.

Egypt has witnessed drop in production of almost 20 percent, as it was experiencing a fuel crisis particularly in cement factories, Shebl said.

Shebl added that many factories stopped operating last summer due to the lack of gas, stressing that “Egypt is facing now a huge energy crisis”.

“We have to encourage the shifting process from gas to any alternative source of energy” Shebl stressed, saying that there are several industries that could use coal instead of gas and this could solve the natural gas shortage in Egypt.

“The decision to switch to coal would benefit the cement industry as well as the consumer” Shebl stressed.

The use of coal, its cost as well as environmental impact, have been controversial in a number of countries. At a convention by the World Coal Association in Warsaw in November 2013, Ms. Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said that “we now know there is an unacceptably high cost to human and environmental health.”

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