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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Leading cement maker to expand production

Leading cement maker to expand production

PG13,-story-1.jpg
PG13,-story-1.jpg

$200m investment hoped to decrease Cambodia's reliance on expensive

imported construction materials, as building boom continues to create

demand

VANDY RATTANA

A delivery man prepares to unload sacks of cement near the Canadia Bank headquarters constuction site in Phnom Penh.

KAMPOT Cement plans to invest US$200

million into production in order to triple its output by the end of

next year as a local construction boom continues to push demand for

cement, according to one of the firm's top officials.

Khaou Phallaboth, president of the firm's Cambodian minority

stakeholder, told the Post that Kampot Cement would increase its

current production from one million tonnes to three million tonnes by

the end of 2009 on predictions that total domestic demand will rise

over the next five years from three million to seven million tonnes, as

heavy foreign investment fuels a surge in construction.

He also said the company has its sights set on the export market down the road if international prices remain high.

Kampot Cement launched in January of this year as a $127 million joint

venture with Thailand's largest industrial conglomerate, Siam Cement

Group (SCG), controlling a 90 percent share, and Cambodia's Khaou Chuly

Group holding the remainder. Khaou Phallaboth said the Cambodian

partner's share would double to 20 percent by next year.

While the plant's current production of one million tonnes a year

represents nearly half of all domestic production, the company has to

import from Thailand another half million tonnes at increasingly

unfavorable prices in order to fill local orders, Khaou Phallaboth

said.

He said that despite the growth in local demand for cement, Cambodia's

exorbitantly high energy costs, which are three times higher than those

in neighboring Vietnam and Thailand, continue to pose a major obstacle

to the industry's expansion.

"So once we increase our production, we will switch from using heavy

fuel to a coal-fired power plant," he said. "It will cost us $70 to $80

million at first, but it will save us several million dollars in energy

costs every year after that."

Opposition party lawmaker Yim Sovann said that he supports industrial

self-sufficiency, but expressed concerns over the effects on the

surrounding communities of a coal-fired plant, which he said would

"seriously damage the environment and health of local people if it is

not built according to international standards".

Others, however, played down the potential effects of the plant, while

saying Cambodia was too reliant on imported construction materials.

"It will be very good to reduce our reliance on imports from foreign

countries, and we should support the use of local products," said Ith

Priang, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and

Energy.

"Oil has been really expensive, so a clean-coal power plant is a good,

cheaper alternative.... There should not be any concern over the

environmental effects because we will thoroughly inspect the plant to

make sure it is in compliance." 

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