The Thai Boon Roong Group, owned by the controversial tycoon Teng Bunma, is to build a $60 million cement plant in Kampot province, the head of the state-run investment board confirmed Sunday.
The factory will have a capacity to produce 700 tons of cement a day, according to Suon Sitthy, secretary-general of the Cambodian Investment Board. He did not know when the factory is scheduled to go on line.
Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper, which is also owned by Thai Boon Roong, on Friday quoted Teng Bunma as saying the new factory would help cut Cambodia’s reliance on imported cement.
“Even though at present we already have a cement plant,” Teng Bunma was quoted as saying, “it cannot meet the needs for the entire country…. That is why I have to invest to construct a cement plant locally in order to process raw materials that are available in this country and to improve the national economy.”
According to Teng Bunma, 100,000 tons of cement needs to be imported annually to meet demand.
Construction on the factory, which will employ about 1,000 people, will begin soon by China’s Future Group Holdings Ltd, according to the Rasmei Kampuchea report.
The sole cement producer operating in Cambodia at present is Naga Cement. Naga officials have said, however, that demand has dropped off this year because of the economic downturn. Investors have also complained that cement is one of several products being smuggled into Cambodia from Thailand since the Thai baht plummeted last year.
Plans for another $200 million cement plant, a joint-venture between Cambodia’s Khaou Chouly Group and South Korea’s Tong Yang Group, have been put on hold because of the economic slowdown, Suon Sitthy said.
Teng Bunma’s other holdings include the Cambodia Mekong Bang, the Olympic Market, casinos and Regency Square, where the Hotel Inter-Continental is located.
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