Cambodia's five cement factories produced 7.9 million tonnes of finished product last year, marking a seven per cent gain from 2019 even with myriad construction projects put on hold by Covid-19 throughout the year, according to Cambodian Cement Manufacturing Association secretary-general Puth Chandarith.
He told The Post on February 9 that growth in domestic cement production plays an increasingly important role in replacing imports, which are predominantly from Thailand, Vietnam and China.
“This seven per cent increase indicates that demand for cement remains high despite the fact that Covid-19 continues to spread,” he said, adding Cambodia’s cement factories are expected to produce even more this year, making a larger contribution to national economic development.
As capital investment remains on a robust growth trajectory, the Kingdom’s cement plans can now produce up to 10 million tonnes of cement per annum at full capacity, he said.
Nevertheless the spurt in domestic production was also partly due to global restrictions on the movement of people and goods to curb the spread of Covid-19, he added.
Cambodia Constructors Association general manager and secretary Chiv Sivpheng said that while larger construction projects – typically backed by foreign investment – were suspended, smaller ones – such as the residential buildings more often financed by locals – were not.
This drove up demand last year and contributed to growth in the sector, he said. “Domestic production during the period increased in almost all sectors, including cement. GDP [gross domestic product] growth, even in small amounts, is a positive sign for the Cambodian national economy,” he said.
Sivpheng said a trend of using local cement products was also on the rise among construction projects.
He said the capital investment behind the major construction projects approved by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction last year reportedly decreased slightly from 2019.
Huy Vanna, secretary-general of advisory firm Housing Development Association of Cambodia, noted that borey gated housing community projects drove a hefty chunk of last year’s growth in domestic cement production, as did a restriction on imports.
Cambodia’s five cement factories are operated by Chip Mong Insee Cement Corp, Kampot Cement Co Ltd, Cambodia Cement Chakrey Ting Factory Co Ltd, Battambang Conch Cement Co Ltd and Thai Boom Roong Cement Co Ltd.
The factories have a total capital investment of $800 million, employ some 2,700 people and are able to produce eight million tonnes per year, Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem said at the November 14, 2019 inauguration ceremony of Thai Boom Roong Cement’s plant – the Kingdom’s fifth.
Capital investment in the Kingdom’s construction sector in the first nine months of 2020 fell 9.6 per cent to $5.868 billion from the $6.494 billion logged in the same period in 2019, the land ministry reported.