Materials

Upstream and downstream of road construction and maintenance projects, Colas runs a major production and recycling business for construction materials, mainly from its quarries and gravel pits (aggregates, ready-mix concrete, precast concrete). The Group also transforms and recycles asphalt mix (emulsions and binders, hot and cold mix, bitumen) and operates in bitumen distribution and transformation. These materials are consumed by Colas companies or sold to third parties.

Aggregates and bitumen are key resources and controlling their supply is essential in the road construction and maintenance business. Over the years, the Group has built strong footholds in aggregates by expanding its portfolio of quarries and gravel pits. 

In addition, it has continued to grow in the bitumen storage and distribution business around the world. Colas' objective is to better control availability and quality of its aggregates and bitumen supplies, to better control the safety and environmental conditions in which these industrial activities are carried out, and to boost its competitive edge. Supported by a series of groupwide operational excellence programs, Colas is setting its sights on becoming a leading player in industries.  

Colas operates in Materials segment across its entire worldwide network.  

In 2020, revenue from the sales of construction materials to third parties totaled €2.2 billion, or 18% of total Group revenue. 

A global production network

Colas operates via a dense international network consisting of:

  • 478 operating quarries and gravel pits 
  • 151 emulsion and binder plants
  • 538 asphalt plants
  • 192 ready-mix concrete plants
  • 1 bitumen production plant (Malaysia)

In 2020, the Colas share of sales of construction materials amounted to:

  • 89 million tonnes of aggregates (excluding Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement)
  • 2.1 million tonnes of emulsions and binders
  • 35 million tonnes of asphalt mix
  • 2.6 million cubic meters of ready-mixed concrete

Bitumen production totaled 1 million tonnes.

The Group’s global authorized reserves of aggregates (Colas share) are estimated at 2.7 billion tons, i.e., 30 years of sales (Colas share), to which an additional 1.3 billion tonnes of potential quota share reserves is to be added. 
 

The production of aggregates and ready-mixed concrete

After water, aggregates are the second most used raw material in the world, and a key resource for Colas’ construction and maintenance activities. Thanks to an international network of 500 quarries and gravel pits and 4,000 experts, Colas is positioned as one of the world leaders in the production of aggregates. This activity is an industrial sector in its own right since among the 91 million tonnes produced in 2020, at least 70% is sold to third parties. The Group also has 200 concrete plants, which enabled it to produce 2.4 million m³ of ready-mixed concrete in 2020. This activity is carried out sustainably and responsibly, with a simple ambition: one action in favor of biodiversity in each quarry and each gravel pit across the Group. 

Recycling and Reusing Materials

Colas is one of the world's leading recyclers, all sectors and materials combined, thanks to more than 800 recycling units across the world. As part of its road construction and maintenance projects, the Group recycles and reuses waste and materials from deconstruction as well as waste from other construction professionals and other industries (waste mirrors, broken porcelain, shoe soles, etc.), thus offering a range of recycled materials to its teams and to third parties.  

Colas operates as part of a genuine circular economy. In 2020, the total amount of waste and materials recycled by Colas was 17 million tonnes, which led to the production of 7.8 million tonnes of materials, or the equivalent of 9% of the Group's total aggregates production. This amounts to savings equivalent to the production of 28 medium-sized quarries.
 

In addition, recycling asphalt pavement saves bitumen (a non-renewable petroleum product). In 2020, 16% of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) was incorporated on average in Colas' global asphalt mix production: around 309,000 tonnes of bitumen were thus recovered, the equivalent of the bitumen production of a large refinery. The gain obtained by recycling is threefold: reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions; saving resources by reusing a non-renewable raw material (bitumen) and aggregates; savings for the customer, thanks to lower cost for identical performance.

A bitumen distribution activity

Today, a leader in bitumen transformation with some 151 emulsion and modified binder plants, Colas has a foothold across the entire value chain for bitumen, a key resource for the Group. As the world's largest buyer, the Group stores, transports and markets this raw material using a network of 71 bitumen storage terminals and a fleet of 8 bitumen tankers, 2 river barges and 200 railcars.

Colas operates in this segment in Asia (through the Thai subsidiary Tipco Asphalt, in which Colas holds a 31% stake), in Australia, in North America, and more recently, in Europe, Africa and the Middle East with the creation in 2020 of Continental Bitumen Ltd.

To secure its bitumen supplies and expand its bitumen distribution and trading business, Colas relies on Continental Bitumen Ltd, which supplies bitumen to Group units in its geozone (1.5 million tonnes of bitumen per year). Continental Bitumen boasts a network of 14 bitumen storage terminals and aims to expand its logistics network with 5 to 7 new terminals by 2025.