22 October 2019

A tiny French cement company sold shares on
the Paris exchange with a big promise: to shake up global production and reduce
carbon emissions.

Hoffmann Green Cement Technologies pitched to
investors a “disruptive” manufacturing process based
on changing the composition of cement so that it no longer
contains clinker, the main source of carbon-dioxide emissions. This helps to
lower the carbon footprint by a factor of five, the company says. The stock
rose on its trading debut on Monday.

Hoffmann’s climate-focused business model is
a response to the concern raised by policy makers and investors about
greenhouse gases coming out of the building and construction industry. 

Cement makers are responsible
for about 7% of world carbon emissions, more than all the trucks on
the road, and some industry giants
like LafargeHolcim have also pledged to lower their output of polluting gases.

Hoffmann’s market capitalisation of €236-million is
tiny compared with LafargeHolcim’s €30-billion.

Hoffmann plans to use the IPO proceeds to accelerate
development, notably with the construction of two new
production sites in France. The company aims to raise annual capacity 11-fold
to 550 000 t by 2024, which would generate sales of about €120-million and give
it 3% of the local market.

The stock rose as much as 2.4% from its listing
price of 18 euros and traded 2% higher at 11:42 a.m. in Paris.

LafargeHolcim, Europe’s largest cement maker, is
spending 160-million Swiss francs on 80 projects across
Europe to cut annual emissions from its cement manufacturing processes, Marcel Cobuz, the company’s head of
Europe, has said.

LafargeHolcim also plans to use materials other
than clinker to make cement. Clinker comes from baking
limestone until carbon is released, leaving a material chemically known as
calcium oxide. Substitutes can include fly-ash, which comes from the chimneys
of factories that burn coal, or slag from steel-making blast

Cement is a focus because its carbon footprint is so big — and use of the material is rising along with development, especially in Asia and Africa

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