HeidelbergCement has committed itself to the goal of mitigating the impact of its activities on natural water resources to the greatest extent possible. We comply with stringent environmental regulations to ensure that raw material quarrying will not damage local bodies of surface water and ground water resources.
In 2013 and 2014, we introduced industry indicators for water reporting at all of our cement plants. We developed these indicators in cooperation with the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI). By 2030 we also plan to introduce these indicators at all of the aggregates and ready-mixed concrete facilities that suffer from water stress. This occurs in regions where less than 1,700 m³ of water are available per person each year. In 2014 we also conducted a global water risk study. It supplied us with fundamental information for the creation of a Group-wide guideline concerning sustainable water management in the cement, aggregates and ready-mixed concrete business lines. The study showed that 14.3% of our plants are located in regions suffering from water scarcity, i.e. where less than 1,000 m³ of water is available per person each year.
In response to this result, we are now aiming to gradually introduce customised water management plans at these 337 locations between 2016 and 2030. These plans will ensure that the scarce water resources are sustainably used. We will begin this process at the locations and in the regions where water scarcity is an especially urgent problem. The management plans include the implementation of concepts and measures for reducing water consumption. In addition, the plans aim to involve external stakeholders from the local area in order to implement sustainable water utilisation concepts that benefit the community so that local water risks can be minimised.
Water Resource Protection and Conservation, Water Consumption and Processing
At all of its quarries, HeidelbergCement collects any surface water that has accumulated and removes it in a way that ensures there is no pollution or flooding of the quarry site or the surrounding area. No water is channelled into existing surface waters in the area without previous approval from the local authorities. Regular training sessions for our employees and external controls ensure that the mandatory procedures are adhered to.
Water is used to clean gravel and sand and to manufacture cement and concrete. We obtain some of this water from the public supply system, but most of it is taken from groundwater or rivers and lakes. Removal of groundwater and surface water is subject to strict governmental regulation worldwide and is regularly monitored.
Some of the water - e.g. the portion used for cooling - evaporates and is thus released into the atmosphere. The production process water that remains is purified and released back into surface waters in a carefully controlled process. Water that is used to clean transport vehicles is recycled. Normal wastewater from company buildings is disposed of via the municipal wastewater systems.
During all of these processes, we continuously strive to prevent pollution. Because the production process in quarries and gravel pits does not chemically alter the water that is used there, these sites contain no pollutants.