Cement Factory Selling Assets

After more than a decade of trying unsuccessfully to produce cement, a public-private partnership has called it quits and junked its equipment, officials said.

The Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy gave its partner, Suor Srun Enterprise Ltd, permission to clear out the Kampot province factory, and salvagers have started carting away the antiquated ma­chines, Sun Song, the factory’s managing director, said Monday.

Money from the scrapped ma­chinery, which in­cludes heavy equipment, escalators and trucks, will be used to pay back wages for workers at the factory, which has not operated since 1996.

Sun Song said the machines were not worth keeping, but re­fused to say how much would be recouped from their sales.

The well-known factory, known as Chakrey Ting Cement Fac­tory, was built in 1962. Closed in the violent 1970s, it reopened as a state-run enterprise in the 1980s.

In 1991 Suor Srun, the government’s partner, teamed up with Chinese-owned Bayon Cement Ltd, but the venture broke up in 1995. Next, Suor Srun joined with a Swedish company with offices in Singapore. Sun Song said he did not know the name of the Swedish company.

Operations finally began, and cement was produced for about three months. But it was unable to compete with ce­ment from neighboring countries, a Suor Srun company official said.

“The unit cost is too high to produce cement here,” due to obstacles such as high electricity and transportation costs, the official said. “Importing cement is still cheaper.”

Although the ministry and Suor Srun are looking for another partner, they are not optimistic. “It is impossible to start operations again because [we have] no funds,” ministry Undersecretary of State Hul Lim said.

Meng Soun, provincial second deputy governor, said police were monitoring the salvaging to make sure no illegal looting took place.

“I remember in the 1960s, this factory not only produced enough to meet the local market’s de­mands, but it exported too,” he said.

A company official said the factory would reopen if it can find a way to finance new equipment.


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