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Conserving Biodiversity

Environmental Impact of Our Operations


Environmental Impact of Our Operations

Cement production starts with quarrying limestone, the primary raw material for cement. We also quarry many mineral resource products used as aggregates and industrial raw materials.

Since quarrying involves the removal of topsoil to expose the required ore, it inevitably impacts the environment and biodiversity of the area being developed. However, the limestone, rocks and sand we quarry only require crushing for particle size adjustment and sorting, and do not require any refining processes. Consequently, our operations are unlikely to cause chemical contamination to surrounding areas. In addition, we minimize the amount of waste stones generated during our limestone quarrying by using them as construction materials.

Limestone Quarries of the Group

The group operates 17 major limestone quarries around the world, which are located near to our integrated cement plants. The total site area* of the quarries is 4,269 ha (Japan: 2,608 ha; USA: 1,281 ha; other regions: 380 ha).

*Site area: The extent of the area where we conduct quarrying operations ,as measured by our in-house criteria

Limestone Quarries of the Group
Region Quarries Site area (ha) No. of quarries that require special care*
Japan 11 2,608 1
USA 3 1,281 0
Other 3 380 0

*“Require special care” refers to quarries that fall under Category IV or higher in terms of IUCN Protected Areas

Using the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) provided by BirdLife International, we checked whether any of our group’s limestone quarries are in any of the protected areas defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). We found that none of our quarries are within or adjacent to Protected Area Category III or lower category areas. However, in Japan, one quarry is within a Category IV area and two are adjacent to Category IV areas.

All these quarries have obtained the necessary licenses from their local governments and conduct environmentally sound quarrying operations. They have no pending litigations concerning biodiversity or other environmental issues.

Outline of IUCN Protected Area Categories
IUCN Categories Outline
Ia:Strict Nature Reserve Areas that have outstanding or representative ecosystems or have geographical or physiological features or characteristic species.
Ib:Wilderness Area Large unmodified or slightly modified areas that retain their natural character.
II:National Park Areas set aside to protect the environmental integrity of the ecosystem.
III:Natural Monument or Feature Areas that have outstanding natural features or natural features of cultural value.
Management Area
Areas that require active interventions to maintain habitats or address the requirements of particular species.

Activities to Reduce Environmental Impact

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Throughout the group we believe that balancing the conservation of ecosystems in local communities and development of the communities themselves is important in quarry operations. With this belief, we hold discussions with local governments, local communities and academics while operating quarries. This helps to ensure we not only prevent pollution but also conserve biodiversity and water resources while minimizing our environmental impact.

Environmental Impact Assessment

In developing quarries we conduct ex-ante assessments of environmental impact of the development of quarries based on environmental research of the development area such as on biodiversity and water resources. We then discuss the results of the research with local governments, local communities, academics and other stakeholders before finalizing a development plan. Moreover, we regularly monitor the surrounding environment during the development and operations of quarries, and report to our stakeholders on the environmental impact that the quarries have in their areas.
For instance, in the new development of a quarry in the Ofunato Quarry, Iwate Prefecture, we conducted environmental assessment for approximately ten years. We focused on preserving rare wildlife species in cooperation with external experts and local residents. Furthermore, we minimized noise and vibration during the development work and also limited the traffic hours for trucks used in construction work. In addition, even after development work begins, we carry out regular assessments and implement environmental protection measures.

Raptors survey (Ofunato Quarry)

Raptors survey (Ofunato Quarry)

Biodiversity Protection

When environmental impact assessments determine that protection is required, we protect rare species and the like via measures such as installing protective equipment, transplanting and restricting development work.
Since 1972, at the Minowa Quarry of Chichibu Taiheiyo Cement Corporation, we have been protecting and nurturing rare species of native plants on Mt. Buko, which is located in Chichibu City and Yokoze Town in Saitama Prefecture. We created a botanical garden at the quarry and, together with local experts and other people, we preserve 68 native plant species there while increasing the plant population. Additionally, our Central Research Laboratory continues to research and develop ways to protect and propagate plants, and to verify the genetic diversity of wild specimens using biotechnology. Since 2016, in the course of developing the Ofunato Quarry, we have been working with experts to protect and propagate various rare plant species in their native biospheres by creating a botanical garden on the side of the office of Ryushin Mining Co., Ltd.

Protecting the natural habitat of rare plants (Ofunato Quarry)

Protecting the natural habitat of rare plants (Ofunato Quarry)

Greening Quarries

Rocks and soil are exposed in working quarry areas, and no vegetation is left. However, if no quarrying work is expected for some time we strive to green such areas as soon as possible. We also plant vegetation in excavated topsoil stockyards and in places where the contours of the soil will remain unchanged for a while. At some quarries, at the request of the local community, we restore greenery if operations have been suspended for several months.
We basically plant vegetation that is native to the region. In our greening of quarries in Japan in FY2021, we scattered seeds over a total area of 26,294m² and planted 3,944 saplings.
Other efforts include participating in an annual tree planting campaign with contractors and local residents to improve awareness of quarry development and greening activities.

Greening quarry slopes (Buko Quarry)

Greening quarry slopes (Buko Quarry)

Water Resource Conservation

In quarrying we also pay close attention to protecting not only terrestrial plants but also water resources such as rivers and natural springs in an effort to contribute to biodiversity. From the perspective of conserving water resources, spring water discharged from quarrying and rainwater is directed into retention basins to minimize impact on the environment outside of the quarrying area. In some quarries we drill wells for domestic water and supply this water to local communities for everyday use.

Use of Old Quarry Sites

We reuse old quarry sites where operations have completely ended after consultation with the local community. When greening a site we strive to restore the original vegetation.

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