Dream job in the desert – a cement plant of special magnitude

It is currently one of our biggest projects: Yamama Cement's cement plant 80 kilometers east of Riyadh. One of at times more than 3,500 workers involved in the construction of the huge production plant is Antony Maria John, Civil Quality Control Engineer at thyssenkrupp.

The project, which was launched in 2016 – in the middle of the desert – immediately captivated the young engineer. “I’ve been involved since January 2017. I especially like the truly unique design of the plant. The mobile crushing plant is particularly impressive,” enthuses Antony. Thanks to plants like this, 20,000 tons of cement can be produced per day at the Yamama cement plant. An unimaginably large amount of the grey building material.


The Yamama Cement production plant appears as an imposing steel construction in the middle of the desert east of Riyadh.

The importance of cement in times of urbanization

Cement is a tried and tested material, but is it also sustainable? The answer is: Yes, and it is sustainable wherever construction is taking place – and there is a lot of building going on, indeed: For the first time since the beginning of mankind, more than half of the global population is living in cities. Due to the continuous advance of urbanization, the number of urban dwellers will increase by a further 2.8 billion by 2050.

The population is increasing, especially in urban agglomerations: This is exactly where a lot of construction is taking place – with cement, among other things.

By 2050, the proportion of the urban population is predicted to be 70 percent. Steel and concrete ensure sufficient residential and commercial space as well as functioning sewage and transportation systems. Antony Maria John explains the continuing success of cement in the context of urbanization as follows: “The country’s infrastructure plays an important role when it comes to urban development. I firmly believe that the value of cement is higher today than ever before and will increase in the future as urbanization progresses”.

A project with enormous scale – How to keep the overview

As a Civil Quality Control Engineer, Antony is part of the Civil Quality Team and responsible for the quality control of the cement plant, including the associated inspections – to ensure that the plant runs smooth and no one is harmed during operation. Currently, more than 40 engineers work in the cement plant. The Civil Quality Control and Occupational Safety and Health Team Work together to ensure work safety according to high standards. Antony’s team usually has around 50 inspection assignments per day within the plant.

Some figures on Yamama Cement’s giant plant: An annual capacity of 6.6 million tonnes of clinker and 7 million tonnes of cement from two production lines; 68,000 tonnes of deliveries; 43,500 tonnes of structural steel, 305,000 m3 of concrete and a 13.8 km long fence around the plant.

“The nature of the tasks in a plant of this size is actually not that much different from those that have to be carried out in smaller projects. At the Yamama cement plant, the challenge is the sheer size of the plant. The number of inspections per day alone is an organizational challenge,” Antony emphasizes.

Less dust emissions through cement production

Cement production generates dust, including fine dust, which has a negative impact on air quality. In order to make production more environmentally friendly, great importance was attached to an effective filter system at the Yamama cement plant. “Duct fans are installed to collect the dust – free of pollutants. We also have large filter systems installed for the same purpose,” says Antony.

“Actually, I always wanted to become a priest”

High-performance plants and ambitious steel constructions: Antony seems to have found his dream job. But the civil engineer originally had completely different, somewhat less “earthly” ambitions: “Actually, I always wanted to become a priest,” says the son of a fisherman with a smile. “But during my time at university I saw many videos of high-rise buildings and large constructions. I’ve dreamt of being part of such a project one day. And that’s exactly what I am now,” says Antony happily.

“My motto is: Work hard and with dedication, then you can achieve anything,” reveals Antony, for whom hard work and passion for the job have already paid off. At some point in the future, the ambitious engineer would also like to work as a site manager to take on even greater challenges and manage major projects on his own responsibility.

Antony Maria John, Civil Quality Control Engineer, on site at the Yamama Cement plant: A project as huge as this plant can only run smoothly if all teams work closely together, such as the Civil Quality Team, which ensures the necessary safety on site.

That’s #together: A major project with team spirit

“For me, the identity of thyssenkrupp is described very specifically by the word together. The coordination and support of our colleagues is really very important. I have experienced this myself on site. There are over 20 nationalities working hand in hand here. And that’s because they have understood the meaning of together. That’s why I’m especially happy to be part of thyssenkrupp.” The cohesion and professional expertise make our teams strong. #together is exactly the attitude that has also contributed to the successful commissioning of a huge plant like the Yamama cement plant.