The government has issued an open invitation to apply for a 155ha mineral exploration licence in northern Kampot province that officials claim has great investment potential for cement production.

Following the application period ending December 30, an auction will be held to award the licence, which covers the hilly Phnom Tvea Pram Bei and Phnom Chroy Kandol areas in Chhouk district’s Taken commune near the borders with Kampong Speu and Takeo provinces, according to a November 22 statement from the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

The statement said applications are to be submitted to the ministry’s Department of Industrial Mining.

Ministry director-general for Mineral Resources Ung Dipola told The Post on November 28 that the renewable three-year licence should pique the interest of businesspeople drawn to the cement businesses.

He suggested that if exploration delivers promising results, the licence holder could then apply for extraction rights as well as the permits needed to build a cement factory or other project.

Dipola confirmed that there are currently five cement factories nationwide – one in Battambang province and four in Kampot – with a combined annual production capacity of about nine million tonnes, representing roughly three-quarters of the total demand of 12 million tonnes.

Cement production in the Kingdom reached 1,524,248 tonnes in the first two months of this year, up by 2.08 per cent from the 1,493,212 tonnes registered in January-February 2021, according to the Cambodia Cement Manufacturing Association (CCMA).

Kampot Cement Co Ltd (SCG-K CEM) was the largest producer of the Kingdom’s five cement plants at 420,736 tonnes, followed by Battambang Conch Cement Co Ltd (Conch; 349,500 tonnes), Chip Mong Insee Cement Corp (CMIC; 341,388 tonnes), Cambodia Cement Chakrey Ting Factory Co Ltd (Huaxin; 217,656 tonnes) and Thai Boon Roong Cement Co Ltd (194,968 tonnes).

The CCMA earlier reported that Cambodia produced a total of 7,989,864 tonnes of cement in the first 11 months of 2021.