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Rising local cement production chips away at imports

The newly opened Chip Mong Insee Cement factory in Kampot.
The newly opened Chip Mong Insee Cement factory in Kampot. Hin Pisei

Rising local cement production chips away at imports

Last week’s inauguration of a massive new cement plant in Kampot able to supply 5,000 tonnes of cement a day to the local market is expected to put a dent in imports, but even with more cement factories coming online this year demand will continue to outstrip local supply.

Chip Mong Insee Cement Corporation (CMIC), a joint venture between local conglomerate Chip Mong Group and Thailand’s Siam City Cement Corp (SCCC), officially opened its $262-million plant on February 8. The facility will use locally quarried limestone
to produce up to 1.7 million tonnes of cement a year, or about a quarter of the market’s current demand.

“This is the biggest factory in Cambodia that produces high-quality cement using the finest quality materials,” said Leang Khun, a director of CMIC.

Occupying 110 hectares, CMIC’s new plant is one of five licensed cement factories in Cambodia. Two other plants are in operation, Kampot Cement and Cambodia Cement Chakrey Ting, while another two – Thai Boon Rong Cement and Battambang Conch
Cement – are still under construction.

Yos Monyrath, a spokesman of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said the three active cement factories are capable of supplying nearly 5 million tonnes to the market. Kampot Cement has an annual production capacity of 2 million tonnes, while Chakrey Ting can produce 1 million, and the new CMIC plant adds another 1.7 million tonnes.

Battambang Conch Cement, which is slated to launch production by the end of the semester, will add another 1.7 million tonnes.

“These four factories together can produce from 6 to 7 million tonnes per year, which I think is sufficient to supply the local market’s current needs,” said Monyrath. “However, our country is rapidly growing, therefore, imports will still be necessary.”

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Workers pour cement in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Ly Hour, president of the Housing Development Association of Cambodia, said until now local cement production cannot meet the high demand of the country’s construction boom. However, he said the addition of new local production lines should help to reduce reliance on imports.

“Although the supply is less than the demand, I think investing in cement factories will help reduce our need to import cement from overseas,” he said.

Seang Thai, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, told The Post in December that Cambodia imported about 1.19 million tonnes of cement in 2016 at a cost equivalent of $85 million. He added that local production would have to compete on price and quality to gain market share.

“Cement imports are still highly important for construction, because our cement supply is not sufficient to meet construction growth,” he said. “We are part of a free market now, and we have to build up our capacity to compete in this market – we cannot ban imports.”

However, developers are increasingly using local cement in their projects. Meng Chamroeun, operations manager for OCIC’s Olympia City project, said the company’s engineers were impressed with the quality and durability of K Cement, a brand of Kampot Cement, and made a decision to use it for the mixed-use development’s tall buildings.

“From my experience, other cement products don’t seem as strong as K Cement,” he said.