Contracts awarded for construction of $900 million cement plant

Tuesday, November 21, 2006
This aerial photo shows the initial footprint of the cement plant. The access road is at the right and leads to the site preparation area. A harbor will also be built. (Photo by Holcim (US) Inc.)

STE. GENEVIEVE -- When Holcim (US) Inc. in 1999 announced its plans to build the country's largest cement plant along the Mississippi River at Lee Island in northern Ste. Genevieve County, the projected cost was $600 million, and company officials said the plant could be operational by the end of 2003.

But due to a protracted permitting process fueled by opposition from environmental groups and the increased cost of building materials, the cost of the plant has grown to $900 million. The operational date has been pushed back to 2009, but the project -- and the 200-some permanent jobs it will create -- is moving forward.

"Continuing the momentum started early this year with our ground breaking and site preparation work, the next three critical packages have been awarded," said project manager Rudy Blum, referring to three construction contracts.

Earlier this year, Bloomsdale Excavating Co. of Bloomsdale in Ste. Genevieve County built a 2.5-mile access road to the plant site off Highway 61. This followed a March ground-breaking ceremony where Rep. Jo Ann Emerson said, "There were times when I thought it wasn't going to happen. But we got through it."

Overall construction of the cement plant is expected to involve more than 1,000 workers and, according to company officials, the plant will have a $10 million payroll and provide about $23 million to the school district and about $12 million to the county in property taxes over 20 years.

Company president and CEO Patrick Dolberg said more than 2,000 acres of the 3,900-acre project, which is rich in high-quality limestone, will be a conservation buffer area.

According to Blum, the project manager, one contract calls for building eight, 275-foot-high silos with the capacity to store 260,000 tons of cement. Five smaller silos will also be built over an 18-month period. At the peak of the construction, about 340 workers will be employed at the site. Completion of the silos is slated for early 2008.

Another contract calls for the construction of the main office building that will include technical and administrative offices, a central control room, central laboratory, parts warehouse, and mechanical and electrical workshops.

Korte Construction Co. of Highland Park, Ill., and St. Louis began work on the office building in September. Blum said as many as 70 workers will be involved in the construction.

The third contract calls for GE Energy to design and construct a fully operational electricity substation to receive and distribute power. The substation is expected to be online by late 2007.

Nancy Tully, manager of public affairs at the Ste. Genevieve plant, said the contract to build the harbor will soon be announced.

"Possible contractors are being narrowed down," she said. "A harbor is part of our shipping plans."

According to a recent press release, the plant will meet one of the lowest emission limits to date for any cement plant in the United States. Also, the plant will produce 4 million metric tons of cement

"Holcim and the community has been very patient over the years," said Albert Fults, Ste. Genevieve County presiding commissioner. "But time has shown us that Holcim will be a good neighbor, and this project will benefit the people of this area for many years."

The Ste. Genevieve County plant is the second Holcim plant in Missouri. The other one is in Pike County. The parent company of Holcim (US) Inc. is Switzerland-based Holcim Ltd.

Photo by Holcim (US) Inc.

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