Leca, of the Saint-Gobain Group, launched a lightweight expanded clay aggregate plant in Estonia
Production of lightweight expanded clay aggregate resumed in Häädemeeste
Leca Eesti, part of the Saint-Gobain Group, resumed production of lightweight expanded clay aggregate at Häädemeeste Fibo ExClay plant, with an output of 350 000 cubic metres per year. The production is targeted at Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian markets, as well as export. Over 2 million euros was invested in the plant.
Lightweight expanded clay aggregate is a ceramic filling and thermal insulating material produced in the firing process in a rotary kiln. Although Leca lightweight aggregate is a simple product, its application solutions are innovative in many ways. When combining expanded clay granules into an aggregate, the range of possibilities for usage expands – whether it is laying the foundations for construction, building roads and walls, or developing drainage solutions. So far, lightweight aggregate has been most commonly used to make Fibo blocks, but it is increasingly being used in the construction of infrastructure and housing and in water management.
Leca Eesti sales manager in the Baltic states, Mr Eik Erich Tahk says that the demand for construction materials is growing and the plant in Häädemeeste is the only manufacturer in the Baltics of lightweight aggregate of such quality and with such certificates. The primary field of application of lightweight aggregate is construction of housing, but also of infrastructure. It can be used to make construction of roads and railroads more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly. „Lightweight aggregate also plays an important role in making cities greener, since it provides an airy growing environment for plants, helps to drain storm water and prevent flooding. The whole Baltic construction market will benefit from restarting lightweight aggregate production,“ says Tahk.
Eik Erich Tahk points out the growing substrate industry as a new application field for lightweight aggregate. Namely, a Latvian peat producer is interested in mixing lightweight aggregate into peat in order to develop hydroponic plant production.
The Fibo ExClay plant manager, Mr Tormis Vilberg says that half the lightweight aggregate production will be sold as bulk, and export is of great importance – a ship has just left for Sweden, carrying 6,500 cubic metres of lightweight aggregate. The other half will be used for producing Fibo blocks and lintels.
According to Vilberg, the major part of the investment was used for modernising equipment. In particular, he emphasises the acquisition of a new type of burner and a continuous flue gas monitoring system. In the modern burner, five different types of fuel can be used at a time, thus increasing flexibility in the choice of fuels and enabling the gradual replacement of fossil fuels with new renewable fuels. The continuous flue gas monitoring system attached to the chimney provides information about how effective the fuel burning process is and how it should be adjusted, so that it would be even more efficient. We all have a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint and by measuring our actions we can find the best solution for achieving this objective, he adds.
„Production of lightweight aggregate is a smart way of giving back more to the planet than we take from it. One cubic metre of clay excavated here is transformed into five cubic metres of lightweight aggregate,” Vilberg assures us. Häädemeeste is a place where clay for making lightweight expanded clay aggregate is found in abundance, and unlike gravel and sand, it will not run out any time soon.
Resuming production of lightweight aggregate in Häädemeeste created 25 new jobs which were filled by local people who have been employed at the plant since the beginning of this year. Until now, they were making preparations for starting the production process.
Leca is part of the Saint-Gobain Group which is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
Leca International of the Saint-Gobain Group has a local presence in more than 10 European countries, manufacturing lightweight aggregate and construction blocks for the housing market, the infrastructure market and the water management market.