Determining the possibilities for using large amounts of the mineral part of oil shale has long been one of the development priorities at VKG. It was very important to find a solution that would enable us to use spent shale and oil shale ash, residual by-products of the oil production process, which are not in dozens of tons but rather in hundreds of thousands of tons.
In 2006, the Austrian engineering company Austroplan was contracted to define a process of cement production using oil shale processing residues and by-products as a raw material and for utilising oil shale gas and heavy shale oils as fuels. A description of the process and technology was drawn up, the first economical calculations of possible plant efficiency were developed and the investment cost and project feasibility were established.
At the beginning of 2007, VKG shareholders approved a further action plan, according to which an advanced market research and economical analysis were implemented, and engineering works started to draft documentation for an international technology tender. Also, the assessment of the environmental impact from the cement plant was conducted. The chosen plant with a capacity of 2,500 tons of clinker per day produces over one million tons of cement per year, while the investment amount is estimated to be 2.5 billion Estonian kroons. In 2008, an international tender for plant technology took place, in which there were three tender world-leading participants – FLSmith from Denmark, and Polysius and KHD from Germany. Within the tender process, all three participants worked out a reliable process for cement production based on VKG’s raw materials and made an offer for engineering works, equipment production and plant start-up. At the same time, a domestic Estonian tender was held to find a contractor for the civil engineering and erecting works.
In view of the drastic changes in the financial market and construction materials market, VKG made the decision at the beginning of 2009 to temporarily suspend most of the activities related to the building of the cement plant until the situation would change. The only activities in progress are those connected with authorisations and supply of resources. The cement plant project will most likely be realised between 2015 and 2020. Also, at the beginning of 2009, VKG decided to temporarily freeze most of the activities related to the construction of the cement plant until the economic situation changes. The activities related to authorisations and recourse assurances are still ongoing.