A crowd of about 300 participated in the formal grand opening of the Drake Cement plant yesterday, about 35 miles north of Prescott. The shiny new operation is the first new cement plant in Arizona since the Clarkdale plant began in 1959 but the economic downturn means that it may not be going into full production immediately. Workers have been testing components of the complex system for the past few months but a 30-day full-scale run is now scheduled. [right, Drake Cement Chairman Ricardo Rizo-Patron, President & CEO Marco Gomez-Barrios, Yavapai County Commissioner Carol Springer, and COO Cliff Ayers. My photo]
The plant is located at the old limekiln towns of Putenney and Drake, that began in the laste 1800's. The draw is the exposure of Mississippian Redwall Limestone in Hell Canyon. Cliff Ayres, Drake Cement's COO, planned on offering the audience a historical and geological overview of the site but strong winds were drowning out speakers and flapping the screen, so they cut that out of the program. Cliff kindly provided me a set of his slides and handouts.
The plants limestone quarry volumes are calculated for the Redwall's 20-ft thick "Crinoidal" and 95-ft thick "Oolitic" members. They calculate 89.23 million tons in the Oolitic member, with 53.86% CaO, 31.88 million tons in the Crinoidal member with 47.98% CaO, and another 30 million tons in a "Siliceous" layer that is not on their cross section, with 35.35% CaO. [bottom right, end of conveyor belt that brings limestone from the quarry in the background, to the storage building. My photo]. The engineers told us the limestone is running over 95% calcium, so they have to mix some "low calcium" limestone with it to have the right mix. Maybe one of you readers can explain the difference in numbers??
Considering plant production design is 660,000 tons per year, and the limestone is mixed with other components, they say confidently that they have well over a hundred year's supply of raw materials lined up.
Drake Cement is owned by Cementos Lima, the largest cement producer in Peru. The $300 million plant required over a decade to get permits and build, employing 600 construction workers. It has 55 employees now and will ramp up to 100 when they go into full production. One of the engineers told me they expect to ship about 60% of the plants output by rail on the nearby BNSF line, to Phoenix, Tucson, and Las Vegas. The company bought out two cement distributors in Las Vegas that are now branded as Drake Materials, to provide outlets for their type 2 and type 5 cements.