Boral Cement Works Berrima
The Boral Berrima Cement Works, located in the Southern Highlands of NSW, produces up to 60 percent of the total amount of cement products consumed within the state.
New Berrima NSW 2577
About Boral Cement Works Berrima
The Boral Berrima Cement Works is responsible for the supply of more than 60 percent of cement products in NSW and the ACT.
Construction of the Cement Works began in late 1927 and first operations started in May 1929. The neighbouring town of New Berrima was originally established in 1928 as housing for employees of the site.
Operating with one kiln (No 6), the Works takes limestone delivered by rail from the Boral Marulan South Limestone Mine mine and, after blending with other materials, burns it at high temperature to produce clinker.
The clinker, in the form of pellets, is ground to produce the cement powder and products with which consumers are familiar. The site employs around 115 people in operational and administrative roles.
Boral acquired the Works late in 1987 from Blue Circle Southern Cement, retaining the original owner's name until re-branding to Boral Cement during 2010.
Dust Emissions Management (Aug 2019)
At the end of June 2019, the Cement Works was notified by neighbours of a noticeable increase in dust emissions around the New Berrima community. This feedback prompted an investigation which identified an exhaust outlet 12 metres above ground level on Cement Mill 6 as the cause. The emissions from this outlet were exacerbated by wind and weather conditions across the period which drove the dust toward the village area.
Since the incident, which was reported to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), all dust collection bags fitted as a mitigation measure on Mill 6 have been replaced. The site has also worked with community members whose vehicles were affected by the dust, offering cleaning through a local provider capable of addressing the cement matter within the dust.
A range of further mitigations are now being investigated and implemented to guard against a recurrence, including modifications to exhaust fans, converting maintenance programs from a condition to predictive based approach, devising a Trigger Action Response Plan which will guide faster action if conditions like those experienced in June arise in future, and a trial of 'real time' dust monitoring which will also allow for faster response.
These actions were reported to attendees at the annual Whole of Community meeting held 25 July 2019. During this meeting, residents also asked for advice on how to remove cement-based dust from solar panels and roofs. The Cement Works team has committed to researching this and providing information as soon as it is made available.
As at August 2019, this research is continuing due to the unexpected variables across solar panel types about which we are now learning. Again, once a clear direction becomes known, the appropriate advice will be shared with the community as soon as practicable.
Solid Waste Derived Fuels (SWDF) Project
On 16 August 2019, the Berrima Cement Works Solid Waste Derived Fuels Project was awarded the 2019 Environment Award at the annual Cement Concrete Aggregates Association (CCAA) NSW/ACT Innovation Awards ceremony. Congratulations to the project and site teams on this achievement!
The SWDF Project
The Berrima Cement Works uses Solid Waste Derived Fuels (SWDFs) as part of its 'fuel mix' to provide the energy and heat necessary for production of clinker in the on-site kiln.
The site has had the ability to use SWDFs in blend with coal since late 2018 when commissioning of the $12 million intake system was completed. The implementation of the system, construction upon which began in late 2017 following the achievement of planning approval during 2016, was assisted by a $4 million grant awarded through the NSW Environmental Trust's Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.
At the end of 2018, the SWDF system was functioning at a rate of 55000 tonnes per year, consuming 35000 tonnes per year of refuse-derived fuel (RDF), and 20000 tonnes per year of wood waste-derived fuel (WWDF). To date, more than 8500 tonnes of material has been diverted from landfills around NSW as a result.
During the 2019-20 financial year, the site is aiming to increase its annual SWDF usage rate to 75000 tonnes per year. It is expected that the target 100 000 tonnes per year allowed under the Cement Works' planning approval could be reached by 2021.
To facilitate the increases in intake, work is currently underway to extend the SWDF operating shed to allow for a greater volume of materials to be stored and used. This is expected to be completed by September-October 2019. Beyond this, planning is underway for the future installation of a new chloride bypass which will be required to manage the higher volumes of SWDFs once available. This is expected to take around 18 months to construct once commenced.
What are SWDFs?
SWDFs are typically waste by-products of industry which are given a secondary use as a fuel for energy or heat. In cement manufacturing, they can be used in combination with traditional fuels (mainly coal) to provide the energy necessary for the high temperatures needed inside the kiln.
Use of SWDFs means Berrima is reducing its former total reliance upon coal for its energy needs. In the process, it is reducing its production costs and remaining competitive within the Australian market.
At Berrima, two SWDFs were added to the site's planning approval in 2016 for use - WWDF and RDF. The site already had previous approval to use rubber tyre 'chips', although these have not been used since the late 2000s.
WWDF consists of the off-cuts and leftovers of processes working with wood, such as furniture manufacturing. It does not contain any commercial or native forestry material.
RDF is produced by processing combustible materials found in construction and demolition waste to a strict specification. It's important to note it is not simply made from any waste, including those from domestic collections (home 'wheelie' bins).
Typically, SWDFs are made from materials which would have been destined for landfills, space for which comes at a premium in the populated areas of NSW.
Proof of Performance Trials (2018)
Planning approval for the use of WWDF and RDF at Berrima, as well as the associated plant and equipment, was granted by the then NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) in October 2016. The approval followed a four year process of studies, planning applications and community engagement.
Construction on the SWDF plant began in the last quarter of 2017 and was completed by June 2018. 'Dry' commissioning (running of the plant and equipment without the use of SWDF material) took place the following month, while the first SWDF material was introduced in mid-August 2018 for 'wet' commissioning.
In December 2018, the site reported results of these trials to the community. These indicated the transition to regular SWDF usage had been highly successful, with the systems performing well within expectations for production, as well as the tighter air quality emission limits tied to SWDFs.
Despite the positive outcomes, there were two minor occasions where the program did not go to plan. They were:
- On 20 September, the site's electrostatic precipitator system was 'tripped' when carbon monoxide levels started to increase. This caused a very brief rise in dust and some metal emissions. The cause was identified and a solution implemented via the installation of a new pump on the plant calciner. There was no risk to health or safety as a result of this brief issue.
- On 19 November, the ongoing 'real time' monitoring of stack emissions at the plant indicated an elevated level of hydrogen chloride. The cause was identified as a faulty valve and subsequent water supply failure - the valve was replaced, and a second water pump system installed as a failsafe. Again, there was no risk to health or safety.
Both incidents were reported to the DPE and NSW EPA as required under the terms of the site's approvals.
Find out more
The path to establishing the SWDF Project was a long one and involved many hours of planning, studies and community engagement. As a result, a large amount of information was generated for the local community which remains available for review. If you would like a copy of any of this information, which includes newsletters, advertisements and so on, please send us an email.
Planning and Project Initiatives (Aug 2019)
HiCal 50 as energy fuel
Aside from Solid Waste Derived Fuels (SWDFs), the Cement Works' planning approval provides for other 'non standard' materials to be used as fuels for the kiln as well. One of these is a substance called HiCal 50 - a carbon anode used as part of aluminium smelting.
HiCal 50 is very similar to coal in its make up. It consists of carbon bound with bitumen and can be combusted in a similar way to coal. If not used for fuel, it becomes a landfill waste as with SWDF products.
Last used at Berrima in 2008, the site has imported around 15000 tonnes of HiCal 50 for use in production from a redundant Hunter Valley smelter. The current planning approval only allows it to be used when the kiln is running, but not during 'start up' or 'shut down'. We've applied to the NSW Department of Planning, Infrastructure and Environment (DPIE) to modify our consent to allow us to do so.
Isotainer Handling Activities
As part of ongoing efforts to improve logistics associated with the Cement Works, we're looking at increasing usage of isotainers at both our Berrima and Maldon Cement Works.
An isotainer is a tube-like structure set within a rectangular frame with a capacity of up to 28 tonnes - the same as a road-going tanker. Isotainers can be transported via rail, road or shipping.
At Berrima, we've applied to the DPIE seeking permission to establish isotainer handling activities on the northern side of the Cement Works site. Once established, the site plans to load three trains per week with up to 56 isotainers each, meaning between 150 000 and 200 000 tonnes of cement transferring from road to rail. This equates to about 148 trucks per week being taken off the road.
Planning and Approvals
General operating approvals
The Boral Berrima Cement Works was commissioned in 1929 and has been operated continuously ever since. During the course of its history, the site has hosted six different kilns and a wide variety of infrastructure.
For many years, the Cement Works was reliant upon 'continuing use rights' as the basis for operating approval. Today, two main approvals inform the site's operating conditions.
- DA 401-11-2002-i, issued by the then NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure on 12 May 2003 for the upgrade of Kiln 6, and
- DA 85-4-2005, issued by the then NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure on 16 August 2005 for the establishment of Cement Mill 7.
These approvals have been subject to a number of modification applications which have subsequently been approved.
Berrima Cement Works - Mill 7 Consent
The site also holds several development application (DA) approvals issued by Wingecarribee Shire Council for a number of the smaller buildings and structures on site.
Environmental Management Plans
The Boral Berrima Cement Works has developed a set of Environmental Management Plans (EMPs) over many years to guide site environmental management.
The suite of management plans assist the operations to meet the terms of its environment protection licence (EPL) and planning approvals.
You can read each of these plans below:
Annual Environmental Management Reviews (AEMRs)
The Cement Works is required to compile an Annual Environmental Management Review (AEMR) at the end of each reporting year, capturing information about operations and performance against a range of criteria. The reviews can be found below.
Combined Kiln 6 and Cement Mill 7 Reviews
Kiln 6 only
Cement Mill 7 only
Environmental Audits - External
The planning consents for both Kiln 6 and Cement Mill 7 at the Berrima Cement Works include a provision that a tri-annual environmental audit be undertaken as a verification of compliance.
You can read the latest audit report below:
Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2011
The Berrima Cement operation, as well as many other Boral sites, has obligations under the Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2011.
These obligations include providing public access to pollution reporting data. You can find out more about the Act and the results for the Berrima site here.
Pollution Incident Notification Register
Under the NSW Protection of the Environment Act 1997, Boral is required to develop procedures for the notification of neighbours in the event of a 'pollution incident'.
Examples of pollution incidents include (but are not limited to) significant oil or hydrocarbon spills; release of large volumes of high pH (alkaline) water; and fires or significant smoke.
The procedure requires the establishment of a secure register of neighbour contact details which can be used for notification. This register was started in 2013.
If you live within a one kilometre radius of the Cement Works, you can register your details directly via email. Phone and mobile numbers, email addresses and so on can be included depending on your contact preference.
Public Feedback Register
Receiving feedback is an important part of maintaining successful operations. Under the Berrima Cement Works' planning approvals, a register of complaints and their resolution is required to be made available for public review. You'll find the latest version of this register here.
Community Liaison Group (CLG) and community meetings
The Boral Berrima Cement Works has a long tradition of arranging community meetings to share information about the operations, review their performance with neighbours and stakeholders, and to gather feedback.
The Cement Works operates a Community Liaison Group (CLG) as a requirement of the site's planning approval. The CLG, which re-formed in June 2019 to replace a series of regular open community meetings held between 2011-18, meets quarterly as a primary communication channel between the site and local residents.
As described in the planning approval, the CLG consists of community representatives, an appointed representative of Wingecarribee Shire Council, and Boral personnel. The current community and Council members are:
- Clive West - Berrima resident and Berrima Resident Association representative
- John Barrett - Burradoo resident and Berrima Resident Association representative
- Andrew Woods - New Berrima resident
- Barry Arthur - Environment Manager, Wingecarribee Shire Council
You can review the presentations and meeting notes for the last three years of CLG sessions below. If you would like to review documents from earlier meetings, please send an email.
The next meeting of the CLG is scheduled to take place on Thursday 26 September 2019 at the Cement Works. If you have any matters you wish the representatives to discuss, please send an email.
To ensure the wider community remains 'connected' to the Cement Works, we also organise annual Whole of Community (WoC) Meetings. These sessions are usually held at the end of each financial year and act as a 'report back' on the previous year's activities.
WoC meetings are also organised if any significant changes are planned at the Cement Works, or if there has been a major issue or topic needing broad communication. You can also view the presentations from these sessions below.
The next WoC meeting is scheduled to take place in July-August 2020 unless matters require its organisation prior to then.
CLG Meeting Presentations and Meeting Notes (2019-)
- Boral Berrima Cement CLG Meeting Presentation - 27 June 2019
- Boral Berrima Cement CLG Meeting Notes - 27 June 2019
WoC Meeting Presentations (2018-19)
- Boral Berrima Cement WoC Meeting Presentation - 25 July 2019
- Boral Berrima Cement 'Special' WoC Meeting Presentation - 6 December 2018
- Boral Berrima Cement WoC Meeting Presentation - 2 August 2018
These are the latest newsletters and publications issued by the site. If you'd like access to older issues and information, please send us an email.
The Berrima Cement operation has made significant contributions to the Southern Highlands community over many years through supporting activities and participating in events.
During this time, the site has employed generations of local people, providing a cornerstone for the economic and social development of the region.
Since Boral's stewardship of the site from the 1980s, this tradition of working with and contributing to the community has continued.
Boral Cement Berrima has forged strong links with a variety of community partners over its decades of operating. Current examples of our partnerships include:
- Wingecarribee Shire Council - Jobs & Careers Expo
- Rotary - Southern Highlands Schools Science & Engineering Challenge
- Southern Highlands Business Excellence Awards
- Harper's Mansion Berrima - Plant & Garden Fair
Boral Corporate Partnerships at Berrima
Communities around the Berrima Cement Works also benefit from Boral's partnerships at the corporate level.The most significant of these is with Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) which has been in partnership with Boral since 1988.
Over the years, CVA has delivered its Biodiversity Classroom and Connected Communities programs at Berrima, mainly through the Berrima Public School.
Each of these programs, delivered on behalf of Boral, has assisted in enlightening both students and staff about their local environment, as well as delivering improvements to the school grounds.
In 2016, CVA also assisted at the Tudor House School, Moss Vale, creating a new 'bush tucker' vegetable garden and greenhouse spaces.
Berrima Cement is also a focus of Boral's partnership with Outward Bound Australia (OBA). The site co-supports a Youth Leadership Program with Boral's two Marulan South operations which is aimed at Year 9 students attending Moss Vale, Goulburn and Mulwaree High Schools.
The Program consists of an educational camp followed by the development and delivery of projects by participants which are designed to benefit their local community.
Leaving a legacy for Berrima
The Berrima Cement Works has also contributed to numerous community building and infrastructure projects which remain in active use today.
Some of these projects include:
- Mittagong SES - new Operations building (2013)
- Berrima Public School - Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Project (2012)
- Bundanoon Public School - garden seating project (2017)
- Mittagong Rugby League Club - cement for pathway and accessibility improvements (2015)
- Living Green - Revegetation along Wingecarribee River, Berrima and Cosgrove Park, Moss Vale (2011)
Find out more about Boral's Community and Corporate Partnerships on our corporate website.
A Brief History of the Berrima Cement Works
- 1926 - Arthur Stanley Taylor decides to build the Cement Works for processing limestone from his Marulan South mine.
- 1927 - The Cement Works site is purchased and Southern Portland Cement formed. Equipment begins arriving at site for construction.
- 1928 - Subdivided land in New Berrima is offered for employee housing.
- 1929 - (24 May) Production starts with Kiln 2. Kiln 1 comes online later in the year.
- 1935 - Production of the first 'low heat' cement for the Sydney Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board.
- 1948 - Supply of 'low heat' cement to the Warragamba Dam construction project begins.
- 1954 - Kiln 3 comes online, lifting annual plant capacity to 260 000 tonnes. A decision is made later in year to commence Kiln 4, triggering a major site upgrade including a new raw mill, two new cement mills and a coal mill.
- 1964 - Kiln 5 begins production as the largest of its type in the British Commonwealth. It has a capacity of 435 000 tonnes per annum. A new cement mill, three 2000 tonne silos and a new coal mill are also built in support. Kiln 4 and 5 capacity is now 600 000 tonnes per annum.
- 1974 - Berrima becomes part of the Blue Circle Southern Cement group. Kilns 1-4 are gradually phased out of production through the early 1970s.
- 1978 - Kiln 6 is commissioned, producing 750 000 tonnes per annum.
- 1987 - Blue Circle Southern is acquired by the Boral Group, but the business retains Blue Circle branding.
- 1998 - $36 million upgrade increases Kiln 6 capacity to potential output of 1 million tonnes per annum.
- 2004 - A further $94 million upgrade to Kiln 6 and ancillary plant incorporates new technology and increases output to 1.35 million tonnes per annum.
- 2007 - Cement Mill No 7 is commissioned to cope with increased demand.
- 2010 - Blue Circle operations convert to the Boral brand.
- 2011 - Removal of Kiln 5 and other structures as part of a major site overhaul.
- 2016 - Approval received from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for site to begin using Solid Waste Derived Fuels (SWDFs) as part of the energy mix for the kiln.
- 2017 - Construction begins on the plant and equipment needed to integrate SWDFs into production.
- 2018 - SWDF system completed and Proof of Performance Trial successfully executed.
- 2019 - SWDF feed system extended to allow greater intake of materials into energy mix.
Built with Berrima Cement
Some of the best known public infrastructure built in NSW and the ACT has included cement produced at the Berrima Cement Works:
- Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme
- Sydney Opera House
- Federal Parliament House
- High Court of Australia
- National Art Gallery, Canberra
- Anzac Bridge, Sydney
- Sydney Harbour Tunnel
- Motorway sections of the Hume, Pacific and Federal Highways.