Alternative products, partnerships may underpin industry?s survival

While emissions intensive industries like coal and cement seek exemptions from the new tax regime, other suppliers are not deterred by the tax.
One such supplier is Volvo Group Australia. Appearing on Sky Business News in May, CEO Arne Knaben remarked that while no one could predict how a carbon tax would impact on the transport industry, Volvo was confident that it would not be disadvantaged. ?We?re not worried because we know our products are already way ahead and are setting the standard internationally,? he said. Volvo has pledged, for example, that its on-road and off-road trucks manufactured between 2009 and 2014 will emit 13 million less tonnes of carbon dioxide than the equivalent 2008 models.
Arne Knaben added that rather than viewing a carbon tax as a negative, it was important to ?look for the opportunities [it presents]. Schemes like this will drive innovation ??
A carbon tax notwithstanding, is there any reason why businesses of all stripes should not already be embracing innovation? After all, cleaner, efficient technologies and leaner methodologies should be the name of the game. In the quarrying industry especially, who wants to pay more in diesel costs if you can maximise your fleet?s load and haul duties? And no one wants downtime ? if you can avoid pegging in the processing circuit, why wouldn?t you invest in improving your output?
This issue focuses on recycled aggregates as a substitute for virgin rock in construction applications. While the recycled aggregates market has traditionally been a competitor to the quarrying sector, it can also be a vital ally ? and innovator.
The quarrying sector already experiences pressures in justifying the extraction and transportation of A-grade, non-renewable rock deposits. Blending recycled aggregates ? concrete, brick, recycled glass, asphalt, excavated rock ? with lower quarry by-products can produce quality products for sub-base materials on construction ventures while saving primary quarry deposits for important infrastructure projects. Further, if Australia enters a period of macroeconomic reform that may require major industrial restructuring, the recycling market could be pivotal to quarrying?s sustainability.
Quarry regularly runs news items about alternative products in concrete applications, including commodities like sugarcane bargasse, soybean oil and even seashells (see page 11). These stories seek not to disenfranchise the quarry market but to encourage producers to keep an eye open to the possibilities for innovation. With pressure on them to prove their environmental credentials, quarry businesses into the future may find that alliances with recyclers are only the tip of the R&D iceberg. Imagine a quarrying operation collaborating with a shellfish industry producer to mix seashell waste with cement for a stronger concrete? Or working with the ethanol industry on sugarcane bargasse to compensate for sand reserves? Or the soybean industry to improve curing properties in concrete? These notions may seem farcical now, but who is to say that in 20 years such alliances won?t be necessary for the industry?s survival?
The brilliant thing is that municipal, State and Federal Governments are open-minded to unconventional partnerships. If a project can be shown to be sustainable and benefit multiple industries, then why wouldn?t a Government agency provide financial support? Indeed, Enterprise Connect encourages members of the quarrying industry to engage in new, innovative projects. A partnership with non-quarrying partners is not as ?farcical? as it seems.
Carbon tax or not, now is not the time for retreat or idle posturing. If the quarrying sector is to survive the ever-tightening thumbscrews of regulation, then innovation and sustainability must be priorities for the future.

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend