Coal Use in Cement Factories, Egypt

With the support of the EBRD and profiting from the political instability, business tycoons of the cement industry pushed to advance the coal agenda, when the industry enjoys a rather high profit margin


At a time of political instability and energy shortages, the Egyptian government turned to introducing imported coal as an energy source for the cement industry, due to insufficient natural gas supplies. Business tycoons of the cement industry claimed high losses, pushing to advance the coal agenda, when the industry enjoys a rather high profit margin and benefits from subsidised electricity and a strong lobbying power (1). Despite disapproval from civil society, and the industry's track record of causing high pollution, in April 2014 an interim cabinet decision approved the combustion of coal in cement plants in absence of an elected parliament (2,3). Environmental and human rights groups (most outspokenly the grassroots movement Egyptians Against Coal, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), as well as the previous Minister of Environment Laila Eskandar) have been mobilizing against this backward decision on legal, environmental and health premises (4, 3).

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Basic Data
NameCoal Use in Cement Factories, Egypt
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Coal extraction and processing
Specific CommoditiesCement
Project Details and Actors
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population20-40 million (the majority of cement power plants are concentrated in the most populous regions)
Start Date20/11/2013
Company Names or State EnterprisesCEMEX from Mexico
Suez Cement from Egypt
Lafarge from France - In Egypt, Lafarge was the first to adopt the coal policy, and had imported coal for use in its plants even before the cabinet's approval of the practice (7, 9).
Arabian Cement from Egypt - By November, 2014, it had started a gradual switch, and had imported 700,000 tonnes of coal from South Africa, Ukraine and Spain
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Environment

Ministry of Electricity

Egyptian Cabinet
International and Financial InstitutionsThe European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters-Egyptians Against Coal

-The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR)

-The Association of Health and Environmental Development (AHED)

-The Society for Community Development in South Sinai

-The Egyptian Initaitve for Personal Rights

-Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA)

- Egyptian Center for Legislative and Civil Reform

- Tahrir Association of Doctors
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution
Potential: Global warming, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Other Health impacts
OtherRespiratory diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (undecided)
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Cement factories already started using imported coal, with no evidence to suggest improved conditions in transportation or factory practices. Further, the new (anti)protest law in Egypt muffles the once active voices of civil society.
Sources and Materials

(6) ECESR Welcomes Renewable Energy Tariff policy, Condemns Continue of Coal Use
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(2) ECERS:Following Cabinet ِApproval of Coal Use to Generate Energy
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(3) Coal imports approval confirmed
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(4) ECESR Publishes Correspondence with the EBRD About Plans to Finance Egyptian Government’s Use of Coal
[click to view]

(5) Report: Report: Suez Cement begins burning coal in Qattamiya
[click to view]

Is Egypt on the verge of an environmental disaster?
[click to view]

(1) Court hears session in case against coal imports
[click to view]

(7) Egyptian cement companies start coal use
[click to view]

(9) The coal war
[click to view]

Egypt's cement firms overcome gas shortages by importing coal
[click to view]

(8) Alwafd - Egyptians Agains Coal: The Minister of Electricity's decision is disasterous
[click to view]

Other Documents

Western Alexandria cement factory (3)
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Western Alexandria cement factory (1) A cement factory in Western Alexandria starts using coal. Three pictures were taken by a resident of the area on 21 June, 2015 and they were uploaded on Egyptians Agains Coal's facebook page (
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Western Alexandria cement factory (2)
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Coal in Alexandria Port Transportation of coal. Photo from Mada Masr news website (
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJAtlas contributor
Last update29/07/2015
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