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New cement factory sets itself apart from the rest

People guide a forklift with cement bags for delivery to transport truck on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
People guide a forklift with cement bags for delivery to transport truck on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

New cement factory sets itself apart from the rest

A Chinese-Khmer company has announced plans to build a $230 million cement factory, which when it comes online in 2017 will become only the country’s fourth cement plant, and the first in its underserved northwest.

Battambang Conch Cement Co Ltd – a joint venture between Chinese firm Conch International Holdings (HK) Ltd and local cement company Battambang KT Cement Co Ltd – will break ground next month on 100 hectares of land in Battambang province’s Rattanak Mondul district, a company executive said yesterday.

Vinh Hour, director of Battambang Conch Cement, said the new cement plant is expected to begin operation in December 2017 and will have a capacity of 1.8 million tonnes per year.

According to Hour, Cambodia’s annual demand for cement has reached 8 million tonnes, while the existing three cement plants in Kampot province can only supply about half of this amount. The remainder is imported from Asian suppliers.

“We will be the fourth cement company to supply the market,” he said. “And when the supply increases in the market, the price of cement will decrease.”

Battambang Conch Cement has applied for an industrial mining licence to use limestone from a nearby mountain in the district for its production. The company aims to supply five provinces in northwestern Cambodia: Battambang, Pursat, Bantey Meanchey, Siem Reap and Preah Vihear.

“We will be able to compete in the market because our location will cut down on transportation costs,” Hour said, comparing the cost of local production to shipments of heavy cement from Kampot province and neighbouring countries.

Hort Pheng, director of industrial affairs at the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, said the ministry has approved five cement factories to date – three of which are in Kampot province and already supply the market.

Chip Mong Insee Cement has also received approval to build a production line in the southern province, with construction on the $260-million cement plant expected to finish in 2018.

Pheng said increasing local production of cement will reduce reliance on imports and support the country’s rapidly expanding construction sector.

“Building our own cement factories is better than depending on imports,” he said. “If we can use our own raw material to produce cement for the domestic market the price of cement will come down and it would support the growth of our construction and infrastructure sectors.”

Hann Khieng, vice president of the Cambodia Constructors Association, said having cement production plants spread out across the country was a positive for the construction sector as it would keep prices low.

“I am not concerned about the quality of cement in Cambodia. I believe it is high quality because we have good quality raw material in Kampot and Battambang, as well as the same high technology for production lines as neighbouring countries,” he said.

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