SPRING TOWNSHIP — Graymont could begin construction within the year on a low-emission and energy-efficient kiln at its Pleasant Gap plant, at 965 E. College Ave.
Designers are in the finalization process of the kiln blueprints, said John Maitland, eastern U.S. health and safety manager at Graymont.
The company’s kilns take limestone that is mined on-site, heat it, and alter the lime product chemically. Maitland said the kiln will support the company’s environmental efforts through its desulfurization process and by using natural gas.
“This is something that’s lining up with our commitment to increase performance and focus on sustainability and environmentally friendly production,” Maitland said.
The goal, Maitland said, is to begin construction by the end of the year and have the kiln up and running in the next three years. The kiln won’t be seen from the road, but it fits into the grounds of the current facility.
The kiln expansion project was proposed in 2012, said Mathieu Bouchard, vice president of corporate affairs, and environment and sustainability at Graymont’s Canadian headquarters in Richmond, British Columbia.
Maitland said as other manufacturers are thinking green, the demand for limestone products is on the rise.
Limestone mined and processed by the Pleasant Gap plant is used by clients to scrub emissions in facilities. The limestone helps pull pollutants out of production processes, Maitland said.
Graymont applied to the state Department of Environmental Protection for the necessary air-quality permit and completed initial engineering and design work for the new kiln about two years ago. On Nov. 19, 2012, the project was approved by DEP, Maitland said.
The addition of the kiln will increase production capacity by about 25 percent, Bouchard said.
“This latest investment reflects our continued confidence in the economic future of Pennsylvania and neighboring states and will further enhance our ability to support the success of lime customers in the region” Graymont President and CEO Stéphane Godin said in a statement.
While the expansion of the kiln project will create few new jobs in the area, Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte said the project will have a ripple effect on the state economy.
“I think they’ve been a good employer locally and, more importantly, they’re a supplier of products that help boost the economy elsewhere,” Benninghoff said. “They’re not just keeping and creating jobs here, but contributing in jobs across Centre County and across the state. They have been careful to come up with a plan to use God-given resources, and they’re careful in how they produce and manufacture the limestone. They’ve consistently been good stewards of the environment and as an employer.”
Spring Township Manager Bill MacMath said road improvements will be made along state Route 64, which he said would make travel safer, and allow trucks to have easier access in and out of the plant.
Graymont opened the Pleasant Gap site in the late 1990s.
Graymont employs about 1,400 people, including 194 in Centre County, according to first-quarter data.
Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.