The French company Lafarge has been ordered by the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs (MSEA) to halt its preparations to build storage units for fuel coke, according to a statement by the ministry on Tuesday.
The MSEA expects the French cement manufacturer in Egypt to wait for a final decision on the use of coke as fuel in industrial operations.
Coke is a solid fuel derived from coal after removing volatile material.
Lafarge–the largest cement producer in the world–submitted a study to MSEA on the environmental impact of fuel coke in May 2013 and awaits a government decision on its use.
The MSEA does not allow cement factories to import coal, citing hazards to the environment and the economy.
The cement industry consumes nine percent of the total amount of natural gas produced in Egypt, coming in third place after the electricity and fertiliser sectors.
The switch to coal was first suggested as an alternative to gas when the government announced plans to gradually remove gas subsidies.
“Coke is different from coal,” Samar Raouf, communications director at Lafarge Egypt, told Ahram Online.
“Lafarge has an international obligation to gradually transfer to environmentally friendly sources of energy. We have been taking steps towards fulfilling our obligations to the environment since 2010,” Raouf said.