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China to back Kampot power plant

120619_07

A Buddhist monk walks past an electrical power plant in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district last month. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

An unnamed Chinese investor will put nearly US$400 million into a 300-megawatt coal-powered plant in Kampot province, officials said yesterday.

The plant, slated for a November groundbreaking, will provide power for the Kampot Special Economic Zone, the nearby Prey Nob oil-refinery in Preah Sihanouk province and rice mills after a 30-month construction period, said Vinh Huor, president of Kampot Port.

He refused to name the Chinese party that planned to invest. China – or at least investment dollars from several of its state owned firms – has been instrumental in funding power facilities in Cambodia.

In December, Sinohydro Corp completed the Kamchay hydropower dam, the country’s first large-scale power facility.

A Chinese company is also behind a coal-fired plant near Sinhanoukville.

Last week, Cambodia approved a $102 million loan from China for the construction of a new dam in Battambang province.

“This is important and we want such investment,” said Kampot Provincial Governor Khoy Khunhour. “China completed the Kamchay hydropower dam project nearly one year sooner than expected, even as the world faced the economic crisis in 2008. Other investment in Kampot left but China did not go anywhere. What China says, it does.”

When completed, a 1,800-megawatt coal-fired plant in Koh Kong would be the Kingdom’s biggest power generator, the Post reported in March.

The plant, a $3 billion joint venture between tycoon Ly Yong Phat and a Thai company, will sell the vast majority of the electricity to Thailand.

“The proposed Kampot plant would cost $270 million with an additional $100 million for secondary buildings and the construction of an access road, the total cost will be about $370 million,” Vinh Huor said, adding that the investment came in two parts, as a loan and a joint investment by his unidenitifed Chinese partner.

A total of 1,000 hectares is being provided for the project, 600 hectares for the power plant and 400 hectares are for tourism, business and housing with the aim of creating more jobs for people in the area to help reduce emigration.

“The more electricity, the better, because the price will drop and it is a part attracting investment, such as the Chinese metal company, which is conducting a feasibility study on constructing a smelter in the area that could smelt more than five million tonnes of metal per year,” Vinh Huor said.

Suy Sem, Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy, told reporters that the plant will generate power for Kampot’s special economic zone.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at reuy.rann@phnompenhpost.com

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