MCINNIS CEMENT ORIENTS GREENFIELD PLANT TO BROAD GREAT LAKES AND ATLANTIC COAST MARKET FOOTPRINT
By Don Marsh
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois and business leaders convened in late-January to outline a financial structure for an export-driven start up, McInnis Cement. The company will commence spring 2014 construction of a “shovel ready,” $1 billion project: An advanced portland cement mill with ultimate annual capacity upward of 2.5 million tonnes (2.75 million tons), plus marine terminal equipped to load 2,000 tonnes (2,200 tons)/hour.
Assembling near an extraordinary 850-acre greenfield in Port-Daniel-Gascons—located in the province’s eastern reaches—the government and business leaders capped permitting, environmental review and financing measures for what is poised to be the decade’s most ambitious cement capacity undertaking in North America. McInnis Cement officials plan a two-year construction phase, initial powder deliveries projected by summer of 2016. Along with preliminary site work this spring, they intend to announce major construction and equipment contracts by mid-year.
The project leader is Beaudier Inc., the investment arm of the Beaudoin family, a majority shareholder in two of Quebec’s preeminent corporate brands: Bombardier (business and commercial aircraft, and trains) and Bombardier Recreational Products (Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo and Can-Am). “For more than two years, Beaudier has invested its time, energy and resources to ensure the McInnis Cement plant goes ahead,” said Beaudier Chairman Laurent Beaudoin. “A partnership with experienced private investors, public pension fund and the Quebec government will allow it to go forward.” Leading the equity side, Beaudier is teamed with pension fund La Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec through a $100 million stake, matched by natural resource development-geared fund within the Quebec government’s investment arm. “The McInnis Cement project is fully aligned with the international export activity that remains the driving force of Quebec economic growth,” noted the pension fund’s CEO Michael Sabia. “I am convinced that with the excellent management team recruited by Beaudier and U.S. market proximity, this project is a sound investment.”
Financing is completed through a guaranteed loan structure of senior debt from a National Bank of Canada-led banking syndicate, plus junior debt in the form of a $250 million Quebec government loan at a 3 percent premium rate over the senior debt.
Port-Daniel-Gascons’ location along a Gulf of St. Lawrence inlet affords a load out operation to dispatch deep-water cement vessels through the St. Lawrence Seaway or down the Atlantic Coast with two to four days’ “ship time” to existing eastern Great Lakes, New England and Mid-Atlantic terminals, plus additional distribution facilities central to the McInnis Cement business plan. “The location will make us highly competitive in the East Coast and Canadian markets,” affirms CEO Christian Gagnon, whose track record has spanned Lafarge Group mill expansions and greenfield projects from British Columbia to Greece.
“One of our main selling points is that we are not importers. We have a model similar to legacy Great Lakes cement mills that were remotely located but capable of serving multiple big markets. “Port-Daniel-Gascons is excellent in all regards: Good virgin material and power sources for cement production. Strong local community support and labor force. And, a location capable of serving captive terminals in a market radius with approximately 30 million tons of clinker capacity.”
“Many concrete producers and contractors in Northeast and Great Lakes markets are sourcing cement from dated mills,” adds Senior Vice President, Commercial and Logistics Jim Braselton, who joined McInnis following a long Lafarge North America tenure in cement and cementitious materials sales and marketing. “Nearly 25 million tons of the capacity in our market radius is from plants 50 years or older. When weighing the aged mill factor, along with projected growth in U.S. cement consumption, and uncertainty surrounding overseas imports, buyers will need to reevaluate supply chains over the next three to five years.”
Carbon Dioxide Emissions
(CO2 kg/cement tonne)
Northeast Market Plants
McInnis Cement officials view the environment as “central to our vision.” Port-Daniel-Gascons will harbor what they see as one of the world’s most efficient and environmentally responsible cement operations, owing to such features as indoor warehousing of all raw materials and finished products for optimal dust control; primary and extensive secondary dust control measures; shipping and handling of raw materials by sea or rail to reduce the environmental footprint associated with road transportation; and, carbon dioxide emissions factor of about 745 kg/tonne (1,490 lbs./ton) cement shipped—about 100 kg/tonne (200 lbs./ ton) below the average of 15 Northeast market mills listing kiln construction or upgrades from 1955–2009. Contributing to the lower CO2 factor will be kiln fuel
options other than coal, plus hydroelectric power for most plant processes, including energy-intensive clinker grinding.
The company also cites special consideration of appearance and architectural elements to ensure optimal facility integration with the surroundings. “Cement Plant Development Project in the Territory of Port-Daniel-Gascons,” the final report to the Québec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks, stipulates preservation of a wooded, 35-metre buffer strip between the cement plant’s 90-acre operating footprint and public road right-of-way in any area within 100 metres of Highway 132, coastal Quebec’s circumferential route. Taking a page from California regulators, the report also notes among many construction and operating phase pollution controls: “Concrete mixers used during the construction phase will be cleaned systematically on an impervious surface so the water can be collected and treated as needed.”