For the 6th year running, Lafarge has joined forces with the City of Paris to transform the banks of the Seine for the summer period, as part of the operation Paris-Plages 2008.
For the purpose, Lafarge has supplied the 2,000 tonnes of sand needed to create the stretches of beach along the Voie Georges Pompidou and at the Bassin de la Villette, shipping this in by river from its quarry at Sandrancourt, located west of Paris.
Through this partnership, Lafarge, world leader in aggregates and the Paris region's main producer, is making its contribution to the life of the city, while at the same time demonstrating the benefits of sand, an essential material for urban development.
Lafarge's sustainable development strategy is emphasized not only by the choice of river transport for this operation but also by the expertise developed by the Group to rehabilitate its quarries, transforming them into veritable reservoirs of biodiversity.
Aggregates - an essential material for the city
With more than 400 million tonnes produced every year in France, aggregates (sand and gravels) are the third most commonly used raw material worldwide, after air and water. They are one of the key components used in concrete and play a fundamental role in urban development and construction. In Paris and the surrounding area, more than 12 million tonnes of aggregates are used every year in the construction and renovation of housing and infrastructures.
Within Paris, aggregates produced in Lafarge quarries located in the Parisian basin are for the most part transported by water, on the Seine and its navigable tributaries. This choice makes it possible to use an environmentally friendly, safe, economical and punctual means of transport, causing neither noise pollution nor traffic congestion.
The delivery of the 2,000 tonnes of sand for Paris-Plages in a single river convoy saves the equivalent of around 100 lorries.
9 million tonnes of aggregates transit every year via the Seine, for construction work in Paris and the surrounding area, thus avoiding some 600,000 lorries on the streets of the French capital. Nearly 2 million tonnes are transported by Lafarge, which owns France's biggest private river fleet, comprising 7 pusher-tugs and 140 barges.
From the city to the quarry, the common challenge of biodiversity
To meet the increasing need for aggregates, it is necessary to have extraction sites located near Paris. From these quarries, located along the Seine and its tributaries, aggregates can be delivered to the very heart of the city.
However, the impact caused by a quarry must be taken into account, even if it is limited in time and space. The influence of human activities on biodiversity must be harnessed, ensuring a second life for the sites once extraction work is over. For this reason, at each of its quarries, Lafarge establishes a rehabilitation plan, in coordination with the extraction operations, following consultations with local authorities, associations and administrations. With over 35 years' experience in this domain, Lafarge can offer innovative and varied rehabilitation plans. Once extraction is over, its quarries thus become forest, agricultural or leisure areas. The Group also proposes ecological rehabilitation plans, with the creation of dry and wet zones. These sites, managed over the long term by Lafarge, offer significant potential for biodiversity, thanks to the specific wildlife and plant life that develop in them.
The Grenelle de l'Environnement (Grenelle Environment Round Table) highlighted the benefits of quarries as reservoirs of biodiversity. For the French number one in aggregate production, biodiversity in its quarries is an important challenge and Lafarge was very involved in Grenelle discussions on this subject. Many of Lafarge's quarries aim to increase biodiversity and the Group has worked with W.W.F. to develop an index to measure the biodiversity in its quarries and develop their potential.
A concrete example: Sandrancourt (Yvelines)
Located in a hollow of a large meander on the Seine, the Sandrancourt quarry is in the very heart of the Vexin Regional Park. This rural, natural landscape is thus protected just 60km outside Paris. Lafarge has operated the site for some forty years, producing nearly 700,000 tonnes of aggregates every year to meet local and regional needs. The 2,000 tonnes of sand for Paris-Plages are shipped by river from Sandrancourt right into the heart of the French capital.
To protect the region's major natural resources (varied natural environments, specific landscape, water preservation...), Lafarge has worked alongside local stakeholders on the overall development of its extraction sites, favoring long-term management and thus contributing to the creation of a 200-berth marina at Ilon, over 100 hectares of reforested land, and 80 hectares of grassland, lawns, heath land and wetland. These rich and varied environments are regularly adopted by remarkable animal species, such as the Eurasian thick-knee (also known as the European stonecurlew). Moreover, in partnership with the Ile de France Regional Grasslands Agency, Lafarge has contributed to the development of the 35-hectare "Flicourt Regional Domain", which currently houses over 300 plant species and more than 160 breeds of birds, including 43 remarkable species and 10 red-listed as endangered species in France.
Notes to editors
Lafarge is the world leader in building materials, with top-ranking positions in all of its businesses: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete and Gypsum. With 90,000 employees in 76 countries, Lafarge posted sales of Euros 17.6 billion and net income of Euros 1.9 billion in 2007.
Lafarge is the only company in the construction materials sector to be listed in the 2008 ‘100 Global Most Sustainable Corporations in the World'. Lafarge has been committed to sustainable development for many years, pursuing a strategy that combines industrial know-how with performance, value creation, respect for employees and local cultures, environmental protection and the conservation of natural resources and energy. To make advances in building materials, Lafarge places the customer at the heart of its concerns. It offers the construction industry and the general public innovative solutions bringing greater safety, comfort and quality to their everyday surroundings.