A $90 million upgrade to the GCC Dacotah Cement Plant in Rapid City will increase cement production to 1.3 million tons per year and switch part of the operation to burn materials other than coal.
The fuels will likely include forest waste such as slash piles, trees killed by the mountain pine beetle or trees too small for lumber that have been cut down to thin the forest. Officials say the new kiln is expected to go online in 2018.
The upgrade was announced in March with a groundbreaking ceremony at the plant, in West Rapid City. Gov. Dennis Daugaard was on hand for the ceremony, and he praised the company for its forward-thinking leadership.
“This new facility represents more than a capital investment; it’s the foresight to prepare for our future infrastructure needs, it’s the commitment to creating jobs, and it’s the responsibility in operating a company that’s sustainable and environmentally conscious,” Daugaard said.
The cement plant, which dates back to 1923, was owned by the state of South Dakota for decades, but in 2001 the state sold the facility to Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua. The planned upgrade is one of several investments GCC has made in operating capacity and environmental controls since 2001.
U.S. demand for cement is rebounding after the Great Recession of 2008, and industry experts predict that demand will surpass U.S. production capacity in 2017.