It appears that an era is coming to an end at the Istein lime plant, which has been owned by HeidelbergCement (HC) since 1983. Clearly, the HC Group intends to divest itself of its “Lime” business segment. According to an announcement by HeidelbergCement last Monday, Rheinkalk has expressed interest in purchasing the plant. Rheinkalk is a subsidiary company of the Belgian Lhoist Group, which specializes in lime production and has a worldwide workforce of 5600 employees. HC and Rheinkalk are currently engaged in intensive negotiations, stated HeidelbergCement. It is expected that the deal will be concluded in the second half of this year. On Monday, 14.04.22014, the employees of Istein lime plant were informed of HC‘s intention to sell. Peter Leifgen, the Manager of the Istein lime plant, said that the meeting had proceeded “quietly”.
The Istein lime plant obtains its raw material from the nearby Kapf quarry. The limestone is transported to the plant by belt conveyor and then processed into burnt and unburnt lime. The construction industry uses burnt lime as an admixture for plaster and mortar. Unburnt lime is used for foodstuffs and fertilizers. The South-Baden plant produces 175 000 tonnes of burnt lime per year. Its output of unburnt lime amounts to 160 000 tonnes per year. The quarry holds enough reserves of material to last until 2028.
Together with the Bavarian Walhalla Kalk company in Regensburg, the Istein lime plant was outside the mainstream structure of the HeidelbergCement Group. HC now wishes to dispose of non-core business activities. Rheinkalk, with its base in Wülfrath, is seen by HC as a good partner. Both the Istein lime plant and the plant in Regensburg have been comprehensively modernized and equipped with state-of-the-art kiln technology. “The situation is not that we had to sell, but that they really want to buy us”, said Leifgen, who has been plant manager for more than six-and-a-half years.
He went on to say that it is not yet possible to make any definite statement about the consequences that the sale would have on jobs at the South-Baden plant. However, he was optimistic in view of the fact that Rheinkalk had long experience in the lime sector. “Today, we are a business segment of HeidelbergCement and tomorrow we migrate with our entire trove of technical expertise to an established lime manufacturer”, he said.
No details have been given with regard to the possible purchase price. Provided that the Monopolies Commission approves the sale of HC’s lime business unit to Rheinkalk, it is expected that the transaction will be concluded in the second half-year of 2014, states the press release issued by HeidelbergCement.