Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cambodia opens first big cement plant

Sun Jan 13, 2008 10:52pm EST

KAMPOT, Cambodia, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Cambodia's first major cement plant, a $93 million joint venture with Thailand's Siam Cement SCC.BK, opened on Monday, another symbol of the war-scarred southeast Asian's nation rapid economic development.

The factory, in the coastal province of Kampot, is expected to produce 960,000 tonnes of cement this year, reducing Cambodia's reliance on imported materials for the construction boom reshaping its capital, Phnom Penh.

Siam Cement and top Cambodian building firm Khaou Chuly Group said their joint venture, Kampot Cement Co., should be producing double that quantity in 2009 and 2010.

At the factory's opening ceremony, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia had been importing between two and five million tonnes of cement each year to meet soaring demand and needed to start making its own.

"We need more cement," he said.

After decades of civil war, including the Khmer Rouge "Killing Fields" of the 1970s, Cambodia's economy has taken off in the last three years, due mainly to rapid expansion of its tourism and garment industries.

A construction boom fuelled by billions of dollars of foreign investment, much of it South Korean, has helped push annual economic growth to nearly 10 percent. (Reporting by Dara Rith; Writing by Ek Madra; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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