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Date 06/13/2008

Lafarge and Performance Plants Join Forces to Develop Non-Food Energy Crops

BATH, Ontario

 

Today, Lafarge North America Inc., the country's largest cement manufacturer and Performance Plants Inc. (PPI) a Kingston-based biotechnology company, announced a multi-year agreement to grow and develop clean energy biomass grasses and woods for use as fuel at the Lafarge Cement Plant in Bath.

 

For Lafarge, the joint project is part of the company's ongoing public commitment to reduce its carbon footprint including the use of renewable and local fuel alternatives.

 

"The future of the environment, our business and the communities we serve depends on reducing the need for fossil fuels to run our operations," said Robert Cumming, environmental and public affairs manager at the Lafarge Bath Cement Plant. "We're proud to team up with Performance Plants who has extensive knowledge in biomass technology."

 

The companies are also partnering with the Sustainable Bioeconomy Centre at Queen's University and the University of Guelph, Kemptville Campus to further evaluate the program with a special focus on assessing the full potential of non-food plant species as fuel.

 

For Performance Plants, the four-year agreement is an opportunity to create enhanced non-food crops that are able to be grown on less productive farmland. A combination of multiple target crops and PPI's unique trait technologies will allow End-user industries to tailor design optimized biofuel feedstocks for their specific use.

 

"Our challenges with biomass and biofuel energy are maximization of crop yields, crop consistency and cost efficiency," explains Peter Matthewman, president of Performance Plants. "This is where our technology will be instrumental to develop next generation seeds that are customized for specific industrial users looking for alternative clean energy sources. Biomass derived biofuels provide a sustainable and economically viable solution for reducing global carbon emissions."

 

John Gerretsen, MPP for Kingston and The Islands, praised the initiative. "I commend Lafarge and Performance Plants as well and Queen's University and the Kemptville Campus of Guelph University for this innovative research project into sustainable energy sources," he said. "This is exactly the kind of initiative that will contribute to achieving our greenhouse gas reduction objectives."

 

By enhancing a crop's own traits, PPI has a suite of patented weatherproof technologies that deliver more abundant, consistent and cost-effective harvests for farmers and feedstock suppliers. PPI is developing non-food biomass feedstocks that will be grown on land and under conditions less suitable for food or feed production. These optimized feedstocks will provide renewable alternatives for industries producing liquid transportation fuels and biochemicals as well as those seeking solid fuels to replace coal.

 

Non-food grass crops were planted in late May and early June on 25 acres of land adjacent to the Lafarge cement plant and owned by the company. These included the perennial species Miscanthus and switchgrass in addition to non-food, high biomass varieties of sorghum and maize. Local farmer Michael MacKinnon, who leases the land from Lafarge, will supervise the growing and harvesting of the plants. Poplar, Willow and Industrial Hemp will be planted on suitable land later in the season.

 

After MacKinnon harvests the bales, they will be processed into fuel pellets. These pellets will then be used by the Lafarge plant to fire its cement kiln. The company expects to conduct the first trial use in the fall of 2009.

 

 

About Performance Plants Inc.

 

Performance Plants Inc. (PPI) (www.performanceplants.com) is a global leader in agricultural and biofuel technology development. The company's patented technologies weatherproof food and non-food biofuel crops through periods of drought and heat stress resulting in a more abundant, consistent and cost-effective harvests for farmers and feedstock suppliers. The company has licensed its breakthrough Yield Protection Technology® to some of the world's leading seed companies such as Syngenta, Stine, Ricetec and Scotts Miracle Gro. Headquartered in Kingston, Ontario, the privately-held company has research and development facilities in Kingston, Saskatoon, and Waterloo, New York.

Contact:

Kevin Gellatly for Performance Plants

613-545-0390

gellatlyk@performanceplants.com

 

Robert Cumming for Lafarge

613-352-7711

robert.cumming@lafarge-na.com

 

Susan MacDonald

613-966-4969

susan.e.macdonald@bellnet.ca

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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 17.6 billion Euros and net income of 1.9 billion Euros in 2007. Lafarge North America Inc., a Lafarge Group company, is the largest diversified supplier of construction materials in the United States and Canada. Its materials are used for residential, commercial, institutional and public works construction.

 

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.

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