Biomass Fired Kiln Planned At GCC Cement Plant

Mar 21, 2016

Company officials with GCC Dacotah joined state and local officials for a groundbreaking on Friday.
Credit Charles Michael Ray

GCC Dacaotah in Rapid City plans to start using bio-mass fuel.   The company is referred to by many locals simply as the “Cement Plant.”   

Last week the GCC announced a new $90-million expansion of the facility that boosts annual output to 1.3 million tons of cement per year.

It takes lots of heat to make portland cement.   Steve Post the Manager of the GCC Dacotah plant says the new biomass filed kiln can make that heat from timber slash left over from thinning and logging operations in the Black Hills.  

“It’s fuel that everybody uses for their fire place etcetera and rather than having all that burned in slash piles we can use that here in our product,”  says Post.

Currently there are thousands of piles of slash stacked in the Black Hills in areas that were harvested for timber, hit by pine beetles, or treated for fuel reduction.   Those who represent the timber industry call the move by GCC Dacotah a win-win.   Tom Troxel is with the Black Hills Forest Resource Association.

“One of the things I hate to see is the big slash piles burned in the wintertime.  And, if there is any way we figure out a way to  utilize them then there is a benefit to that. Plus we don’t have the smoke, it’s burned much hotter and much cleaner and less smoke from that (kiln) so I think it’s a win all the way around,” says Troxel.  
The new kiln is set to come on line by 2018 as part of GCC Dacotah’s expansion plan.  Company officials say they also hope to burn other types of waste in the new kiln including old tires.  They say the new kilns produce fewer emissions than older coal and gas fired models.