coke plant / Anderlues / 1903 - 2002 / 2009
This tiny coke plant was established by Société Anonyme des Houillères d'Anderlues, a company formed in 1894 by the merger of some local coal mines. Between 1903 and 1904 the first coke oven battery was put in operation, with an annual capacity of 90000 t of "foundry coke" (high calibre coke used in cupola furnaces). A coal tar recovery unit, an ammonium sulphate plant and a power station were built too. In 1908 two more coke oven batteries were added, each one provided with 26 Coppée furnaces. Several improvements occurred in the 1920s, such as the installation of a benzene distillation plant and the complete refurbishment of the ovens. During the Second World War the company proceeded to update coal mining and treatment facilities. As result, employees reached the 2000 units - of which about 1/4 in force at the coke plant. That was renovated between 1956 and 1958: both the old batteries B1-B2 were provided with 10 Coppée/CEC furnaces each, while a third battery (B3) of 18 Coppée ovens was created. Despite those investments coke production remained a secondary business until 1968, when coal mining was suspended. Therefore, coal began to be imported from Spain and North America.
In 1971 the company changed its name into Société Anonyme des Cokeries et Houillères d'Anderlues, usually shorten in Cokeries d'Anderlues to highlight the core activity. Side by side with the usual foundry coke, "Cokan" metallurgical coke (for blast furnaces) was manufactured too. By-products gained also importance in that period: 2590 t/y of tar, 627 t/y of benzene and 33 millions of cubic meters of gas were sold to other companies. In 1988 battery B3 was revamped, leading to a general capacity of 120000 t/y of coke - 83% foundry and 17% metallurgical. No further improvements were done during the 1990s. The plant reached the threshold of the new millennium as a run-down, heavily polluted site. For this reason in 1999 the regional permit to operate was denied. Too heavy costs of recovery plus the increasing competition with emerging countries forced the company to close down the plant.
Documentary project by Vincent Duseigne.
Last days of production, photographies by Gilles Durvaux.
Last days of production, photographies by Harald Finster.