Only three months after announcing that third-largest coal producer Alpha Natural Resources had acquired 10.3% of its business (with an option to increase the stake to 28.3% under certain future terms), Ceratech Inc., Alexandria, Va., has accepted another strategic equity investment from Colombian cement giant Cementos Argos, the fourth-largest U.S. concrete producer. The buy-in follows Argos' recent expansion of its U.S. presence through a $760 million purchase of Lafarge North America's Southeastern assets. The two companies will cooperate to develop and distribute Ceratech binder products through Argos’ Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Southwest markets.
With Ceratech's pioneering of ekkomaxx, a high-performance, sustainable cement alternative to traditional portland cement, Argos views the strategic move as a means to meet its goal of building a competitive advantage using a process that produces technologically advanced, sustainable product, using 95% waste fly ash generated by electric utilities. With a product positioned for adoption by contractors, distributors, and companies looking to better comply with green building initiatives, Ceratech estimates that one ton of its cement eliminates about 1,900 lb. of landfill waste, and production does not generate any CO2 emissions.
Jon Hyman, Ceratech’s CEO said, "This technology makes concrete that is more corrosion resistant and durable than portland-based concrete, is more cost effective, and provides tremendous environmental benefits."
Ceratech announced ekkomaxx in late January at The Precast Show in Charlotte, N.C. Billed as a “Carbon Neutral Cement System,” the technology combines Class C ash with varying doses of five proprietary liquid or powder admixtures and is said to yield concrete binding agents with performance characteristics reportedly matching ASTM C150 Types I–V powder.
In April, Ceratech also launched Kemrok, a high-performance cement with superior chemical resistance for petrochemical, industrial, and heavy commercial applications, joining the company’s line of portland cement-free binders. Rounding out Ceratech brands are Firerok high-temperature concrete and GreatWhite rapid cement.