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



    BATH, ON, June 11 /CNW/ - 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. By combining crop types and PPI's unique trait technologies, fuel
users will be able to create a customized biomass fuel to meet their specific
needs.
    "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 Lafarge North America Inc.

    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.
    For more information about Lafarge in North America, go to
www.lafarge-na.com.

    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(R) 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.

    B-roll news footage and photography

    To download b-roll footage related to the announcement, please go to
ftp://ftp.corusent.com (USERNAME ckws PASSWORD ckws_91g)
    For photo images of biomass grasses, laboratory testing and biomass
pellets, please contact Susan MacDonald (susan.e.macdonald@bellnet.ca).





For further information:

For further information: 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

Organization Profile

PERFORMANCE PLANTS INC.

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Lafarge Canada Inc.

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