KUCHING: The Sarawak government is open to proposals on going ahead with the US$2bil (RM7.6bil) smelting project now that its investor, Dubai Aluminium Co (Dubal), has pulled out.
Late last year, Dubal reportedly announced that it had withdrawn from the 500,000-tonne-a-year plant without giving reasons.
Dubal was to proceed with the project with GIIG Capital, a subsidiary of GIIG Holdings Sdn Bhd, which it jointly owned with businessman Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.
Smelter Asia Sdn Bhd would be the main customer for power from Sarawak’s 2,400mw Bakun hydro-electric dam.
(GIIG Capital was to secure the deal to take over Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd’s 60% stake in Bakun but the Federal Government has since terminated the agreement. Sarawak Hidro, a unit of the Finance Ministry, is the owner and promoter of Bakun dam.)
Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said the latest state of affairs for the two mammoth projects was that their construction would proceed as usual.
He said the main issue now was for the Government to decide on the administration aspects and agree on stake holding.
“There seems to be some changes in the package for the Bakun project as far as the stake holders are concerned.
“We (state government) want to have at least 10% stake but everything now seems to be uncertain as to who the partners are and how much each will take up. It is back to square one.
“Other parties (consortiums) have expressed interest in the smelter project but no decision has been made yet as to who will be taking part.
“However, in terms of the construction, we (federal and state government) have already gone so far in terms of planning and construction.
“We will continue as planned. There will be no major changes in the design. All these details for the dam had been studied extensively and there is no reason to make major changes,” he told reporters after attending a political function on Friday.
Dr Chan, who is state Finance, Public Utilities and Industrial Development Minister, said the state government had not met with the Federal Government officially to discuss the latest developments.
The Bakun dam, located in Belaga district, about 400km south of Miri, is meant to generate 2,400 MWs of electricity.
A large portion of its power would be used by the Smelter Asia plant located in Bintulu, some 150km from Bakun.
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