ForumMIRO – Meeting place of the German rock industry, part 2

Workshops on the topics gravel, sand and natural stone

During the event, current issues and problem solutions were discussed and presented in eight workshops. Renowned experts from associations, scientific institutions and, most of all, from the industry presented their opinions as lecturers and were available to answer questions. It was noteworthy that the program was designed in such a way that there was enough time after the lectures for an animated exchange of ideas.

- Germany – a country rich in raw materials

The presenter Michael Schulz (Fig. 7) from the Hülskens Holding GmbH & Co. KG based in Wesel, pointed out in his introduction that the precautionary securing of raw material clearly lags behind the predictions of demand. It is true that Germany is lacking in metallic raw materials, but rich in building raw materials. However, that alone is not enough. The availability has to be ensured. The society of the future has to be characterized by a conserving and efficient extraction of raw materials. At the same time particular attention must be given to the raw material securing taking into account the economic growth. It is true that the use of secondary raw materials is an important mainstay of growth, but it is also necessary to maintain a sense of proportion and not to assume an unrealistic use of recycling material. Unrealistic assumptions regarding raw material securing mean that not enough areas are designated and possible deposits have to be re-planned. This, in turn, may lead to the fact that raw materials which are actually available in abundance may suddenly become scarce.

The experts at this workshop (Fig. 8) essentially agreed  with these core ideas. While Dr. Simone Röhling briefly provided information about the situation in the field of rock and associated products referring to the monograph “Raw materials for rock and associated products in the Federal Republic of Germany” of the Geo-Centre Hanover, Prof. Dr. Josef Klostermann gave an insight into the work of the Geological Service of North-Rhine Westphalia. He underlined the political importance of the raw material areas and praised the mineral raw material industry: about 30 % of the dredged areas are already bird sanctuaries.

Under-Secretary Dr. Helge Wendenburg talked about “Resource efficiency between claim and reality” from the point of view of the Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, and Under-Secretary Werner Ressing tackled the same problem from the point of view of the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Labour. Both lecturers addressed the issue of the future challenges, i.e. to achieve quicker growth and increasing prosperity with fewer raw materials. Resource efficiency can only be achieved by taking into account the chain of events: raw material extraction – production – consumption – recycling management, explained Dr. Wendenburg. Under-Secretary Ressing underlined the importance of raw material partnerships, e.g. with China or Mongolia. He flatly refused a raw material tax. In connection with the European Strategy 2020, which includes the guidelines for resource efficiency in the EU, he mentioned three theses of resource policy:

• To use more resources does not automatically mean less sustainability, because to use more today could mean a reduced use of resources tomorrow.

• Resource indicators give an orientation but are not the reason for political measures.

• Market-oriented solutions are to be preferred as opposed to government intervention.

Dr. Paul Páez-Maletz from the Quarzwerke GmbH based in Frechen, investigated the topic of the rock and associated products industry in the age of civic actions. The branch increasingly suffers from protests by citizens and still has to justify its actions. The lecturer showed a strategy of how to face the protests: primarily, by competence, but also by public relations and lobbying with regular political contacts at the state and municipal level, and by networking with local and regional stakeholders, and amongst other things, by optimizing communication behaviour. His conclusion: the branch can only be secured in the medium and long term by transparency as well as by the collection of data and add-on projects.

After an animated discussion regarding the issues of the sustainability, the lecturer was asked if Germany would still have raw materials in 50 years. Even if everybody is convinced that this will be the case, there were restrictions giving cause for doubts: “Elect the right party, then yes” or “If we are still an industrial nation, yes!”

- Innovative conveying technologies

The contributions in this workshop showed that a lot of innovation may happen in the field of material movement (conveying or transportation) – a proven technology for decades, if not for centuries. Above all, belt conveying, which is attractive due to its high profitability, experiences developments showing the innovation potential in the traditional field of continuous conveying. However, there are also innovations in the field of discontinuous conveying, e.g. versions with heavy-duty lorries and dumpers, which, based on the first individual experiences gained, are worthy of note due to new engines with reduced emissions of pollutants in connection with the entire drive concept. Partners in this workshop were Thomas Jung, Mitteldeutsche Baustoffe GmbH, Petersberg, (Ropecon, not only an “Cempty vessel”), Hans-Jürgen Duensing, ContiTech Transportbandsysteme GmbH, Northeim (belt conveyors, “Greentech” and technologies), Matthias Heimroth, C. Christophel Maschinenhandel + Vermittlungen GmbH, Lübeck (“Telestack”: an economic alternative?) and Thomas Stemper, Volvo Construction Equipment, Eskilstuna/Sweden (“New engines – first experiences”).

- Places of extraction: hotspots of biodi­versity

To link the aims of protection and raw material supply has been an objective of the extraction industry for quite a long time, so as to meet its ecological responsibility. Already today there are many abandoned quarries where rare animal and plant species have settled and where populations as well as appropriate living conditions for rare representatives of fauna and flora are being created. The lecturers of this round of talks showed exactly these types of examples. For example, Dirk Lüngen, Münchner Kies Union GmbH & Co. Sand- und Kieswerke KG, Unterschleißheim, addressed the “Ecological management planning without any adverse effects for the company”. “Protection of the species as a chance” was the topic of Jochen Roeder, Heidelberger Cement Technology Center GmbH, Leimen. Jörg Andreas Krüger, Federal Office of the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union Germany (NABU), explained what is in store for the companies taking into account the aspects mentioned.

- Screening and separation technology for special ­requirements

Irrespective of the plant concept of an extraction operation, screening has a key position as a process step regarding the overall profitability. It is especially important if high-quality products are desired, with a high purity and fineness or a narrow particle size range, respectively. Also goods difficult to screen, such as moist, sticky or winding materials, make high demands on an effective separation. Oliver Schüngel, Siebtechnik GmbH Mühlheim/Ruhr, dealt with innovations in this field and presented an electronically controlled, elliptically vibrating screen. Dirk Reibling, Anlagenbau GmbH Günther GmbH, Wartenberg, showed the separation of a material difficult to screen using a splitter, i.e. a separator with a spirally wound shaft for the particle size range from 4 to 400 mm. Fine and very fine screening were the focus of the lectures given by Dr. Helfried Gschaider, Binder+Co. AG, Gleisdorf/Austria (airborne fine classification of fillers up to 63 µm) and by Jürgen Witter, Quarzsand GmbH Nudersdorf, Wittenberg (screening plant for material of 0 to 3 mm with cuts at 1 and 2 mm using high frequencies and low amplitudes as well as sandwich screen surfaces, but also screening of ultra-fine particles using PU screen surfaces with opening widths of 106 µm for dry screening and of 125 µm for wet screening).

- Chain reaction: The building materials industry as key factor

A sufficient and consumer-conscious availability of mineral raw materials will have a key position in connection with the initiated energy turnaround. This applies both to the traffic infrastructure and the electricity highways as well as the “side streets” of the future power supply. The lecturers at the workshop (Fig. 9) described the order of magnitude of the projects, the building materials requirement and the contribution of the companies in the building materials industry. One of the most important economic tasks is to ensure mobility.

Robert Scholl presented figures showing that the current situation is extremely unsatisfactory (about 2 billion € missing capital per year). However, there are solutions. With almost double the goods traffic in the future, it is a must to build further highways and bridges and to extend or upgrade the existing ones.

Frank Dupré also made it quite plain that an extension of the European interconnected power system is required. He showed alternatives for the problematic of overhead lines, e.g. buried cable installations in tunnels. The use of in-situ concrete (Innovation Award 2005), where no reinforcement is required, leads to a more clearly reduced landscape consumption than the laying of conventional buried cable. Although problems are connected with the new technologies, the new approaches offer a scope of options for perspectives and the future need for mineral raw materials.

Hartmut Koch-Czech a small company for limestone products, reported on an interesting project. A storage possibility had to be created to make the use of wind energy independent of the weather conditions. The lecturer described the long and laborious method of setting up a pump-fed power station, from the first concept ideas up to social acceptance. Now the zoning case is scheduled for 2014. In 2019 the pump-fed power station is to be commissioned.

Peter Röhm presented an innovative approach for preparing an after-use concept in three parts for a former gravel deposit. The goal was to combine the compatibility of ecology and economy. The concept – a photovoltaic system, a wildlife reserve and an ecologic camping ground or housing area, respectively, – should be added to an already existing after-use recultivation plan, which included the creation of a lake and the afforestation of the shores. With the participation of the local councils and a lot of public relations, they succeeded in drawing up the development plan in 2004. In 2006 they started to set up the photovoltaic system that went on stream in December 2006 feeding 1.2 MW into the mains. This is a good ­example for a reasonable utilization of former extraction areas.

The other workshops also dealt with important topics. However, they should only be mentioned here without further details:

• Germany on the way to the energy turnaround

• Data management in the company: lost in translation

• Antitrust law: Correct behaviour in associations and companies.

Innovations in a tactile trade exhibition

The comprehensive accompanying trade exhibition gave participants the opportunity to inform themselves, to take a closer look at innovations on the market or, at least, to have them explained in detail and to discuss them (Fig. 10). Close to 70 companies from the extraction, conveying and processing sector exhibited their products in Dresden. Among them were renowned companies such as AKW Apparate + Verfahren GmbH, Hirschau, Siebtechnik GmbH, Mühlheim/Ruhr, Liebherr France SAS, Colmar or Atlas Copco MT GmbH, Essen. However, minor companies, associations and consulting firms were also represented to inform the visitors.


After two busy days, Prof. Dr. Hahn (Fig. 11) was able to give a positive summary both regarding the general meeting and the forum including the trade exhibition. Approaches were shown in all four workshop categories about how the branch should act in the years to come. The main topics can be summarized as follows:

• The raw material situation is well known. The recycling potential can never be so large that it would be possible to do without the extraction of primary raw materials. As regards environmental protection, the member companies have understood the message and they know that much still needs to be done.

• As regards the extraction and processing technology, with the level reached no quantum leaps should be expected. Nevertheless, there is still enough innovation potential that should be used.

• The energy turnaround offers a great opportunity to the companies in the branch, though considerable confrontations should be expected as regards costs. Only an energy mix may be a reasonable solution. The chances for the companies are to set up photovoltaic systems or pump-fed power stations, but also a corresponding infrastructure. All this will involve increased costs.

• There are first approaches as regards the interesting topic ‘data management/antitrust law’. However, there is still a lot left to be done to get the avalanche of data under control. Issues of the antitrust law have a high degree of current relevance, e.g. the problem of joint ventures. However, the association pays strict attention to compliance with the admissible aspects.

The next ForumMIRO will take place in Aachen from 6. to 8. November 2013.

Autorin/Author: Dr. Brigitte Hoffmann, Fachbüro für ­Abfallberatung und Umweltschutz, Oberschöna/Deutschland

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