This year the annual conference of the Federal Association of the German Lime Industry (BVK) took place in Bremen as the meeting of the German, Austrian and Swiss lime industries. The president of the association, Dr. Thomas Stumpf, member of the management of the Goslar-based Fels-Werke GmbH, explained the annual motto of the Day of the Open Quarry 2015 “Lime industry - local industry” and not only underlined the value creation, workplaces and apprenticeships of the corresponding regions, but also the varied local, social and cultural commitment of the lime producers.
In his lecture Stumpf dealt with the enormous international challenges. As regards the German challenges, he particularly dealt with the decided change in energy policies, which, especially regarding the points supply securing and affordability, lags considerably behind the targets.
He explained that the industry in Germany - far more than in comparable countries - is the basis for growth, prosperity, jobs, social security and education. For this reason, a creeping deindustrialisation due to increasing energy prices, lacking planning security and the worldwide highest labour costs is very alarming. The power costs for the industry are already 26 % higher than the EU average. Meanwhile, the difference to the USA amounts to 150 %. Therefore, energy-intensive sectors are continuously shifting their capital spending to abroad. Thus, the industrial core in Germany is being gradually reduced in size.
The president expressly welcomed the foundation of the alliance “Future of Industry” by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the Federation of German Industry and the trade unions. He underlined the importance of a clear industry policy that is equal to the climate policy and strengthens the business location. He appealed to the audience: “Let us struggle together more strongly for an industry acceptance in politics and civil society.”
Certainly, the economic development in Germany has grown strongly after the turn of the year 2015/2016. However, the most important customer of the lime industry - the steel industry - is characterized by a slump in demand and dumping imports from China. Also the chemical industry as another purchaser of lime products sees the year 2016 as clearly more restrained than should be expected due to the overall economic situation.
The president presented the current figures of the lime industry. In 2015 the market sales of products of unburnt lime amounted to more than 18 million tons, which was a decline by 3.5 % as opposed to the previous year. As regards the burnt products, they are satisfied with an increase of 1.7 % to 6.5 million tons. Regarding the unburnt products, the BVK represents about 15 % of the German lime industry. As regards the burnt products, it represents almost 100 %.
There was a decline of the supply of unburnt lime products for environmental applications by 2 %. With 2.2 million tons, the sales to this consumer segment would correspond only to those to the building materials industry. The supplies of unburnt products to the industry are also in the red by 2.2 %, i.e. close to 4.5 million tons compared to 2014.
As regards the burnt products, it was possible to increase the supplies to the iron and steel industry by 3.5 %, i.e. to a total of 2.3 million tons. The development of the supplies to the field of environmental protection, however, continued to be negative. Again they were below the sales of 2014 by 5.4 %. For instance, only 863 000 t could be sold for the purpose of air pollution abatement. This is a clear deficit of 5.6 %. They were more satisfied with the supplies to the building materials industry. In this field there was a plus of 5 %.
Contrary to the positive overall economic development, for the year 2016 the president expects a deficit of 5 % regarding the burnt products to amount to only 6.2 million tons taking into account the weak figures in the field of steel. He does not see any improvement regarding the environmental application either.
Therefore, it is indispensable to push research, development and innovations. The joint research of the German lime producers is well on the way. At present, there are many more research projects than there had been for a long time. The president also welcomed the new team “Innovations” with the European Lime Association EuLA. Amongst other things, this team deals with the topics of recycling management and storage as well as recovery of CO2.
The deputy president Moritz Iseke presented the prevention strategy “VISION ZERO. No accidents - work healthy!” that was called into being by the Professional Association Raw Materials and Chemical Industry (BG RCI) and announced that recently the executive board of the BVK had concluded a cooperation agreement with the BG RCI to contribute to the success of the prevention strategy and to a further improvement of labour safety in the facilities of the lime industry.
Since, at his own request, Moritz Iseke was no longer available for the position of deputy president for the next term of office Dr. Kai Schaefer from the Diez-based SCHAEFER KALK GmbH & Co. KG was elected new deputy president.
The general manager of the federal association, Martin Ogilvie,
presented the business report 2014/2015 to the general meeting and explained the current core activities of the association: commitment in Berlin and Brussels, emission trading, climate protection plan, energy services law, clean air standard, activities in the field of road construction as well as in the field of agriculture and forest management and many other things.
In particular Ogilvie described the knowledge network of the German lime industry that had been presented comprehensively to the facilities and started in October 2015. This was the leap taken by the industry into Web 2.0 regarding the training and further training. It combines online courses, reference work and team work functions at one joint Internet platform. Alone the field of qualification offers 80 hours of training and further training along the complete production chain. The field of references offers a central reference work regarding the topic of lime that so far has not been available to the industry in this complexity. More than 1000 pages of specialist knowledge regarding the topic of lime are included in the database “lime knowledge”.
Finally, the journalist and TV anchorman Markus Gürne of the financial department of the ARD (working pool of the broadcasting corporations of the Federal Republic of Germany) gave the official lecture with the topic “Stand up to the greatest pressure - and work”. He described very clearly political and economic connections including their consequences. In particular he also dealt with the current development in Europe and in the European Community and the resulting worldwide impacts. He showed how outstanding personalities deal with pressure and under what pressure a government must function during difficult political decisions.