KUCHING: The Samalaju Industrial Park in Bintulu remains a choice destination for foreign direct investment after having attracted more than RM52bil in total investments.
The latest investor is China’s solar technology firm, LONGi Green Energy Technology Co Ltd, which will invest RM1.3bil in a monocrystalline ingot manufacturing plant.
The new plant, which has a design capacity of six gigawatt (GW), is expected to commence commercial operations in the first quarter of 2024 (1Q24).
Recently, Sarawak Deputy Premier and Minister for International Trade, Industry and Investment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan performed the ground-breaking ceremony for the new plant project.
This will be LONGi’s second manufacturing facility in Sarawak, after its first plant in Sama Jaya High-Tech Park, Kuching.
LONGi two weeks ago had also commissioned the operation of a solar module plant (phase one) in Serendah, Selangor with a capacity of 2.8GW.
The two-phase project, which has a combined capacity of 8.8GW, is estimated to cost RM1.8bil.
According to Awang Tengah, foreign and local investors are coming to Sama Jaya Industrial Park, which was set up under the Sarawak Corridor for Renewable Energy or Score in 2008, due to the state government’s investment-friendly policies.
The operations of the industries there are powered by renewable hydro energy drawn from the 2,400MW Bakun and 944MW Murum dams.
The major energy-intensive investors in Samalaju Industrial Park include South-East Asia’s largest integrated aluminium smelter Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd, OM Holdings Ltd, Pertama Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd and Sakura Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd, which each owns and operates a ferroalloy plant and polysilicon producer, OCIM Sdn Bhd.
Awang Tengah said the major investments by these industries have created vast economic spinoffs for the local economy.
In 2022, the industries in Samalaju recorded total export sales of some RM18.4bil and generated RM532mil in wages for more than 8,000 workers, of which 83% were locals.
To meet the increasing demand of water and electricity from the industries, he said the existing water supply to Samalaju Industrial Park will be raised to 200 million litres per day (MLD) by 2026 from the current 80 MLD.
“The water extension project is currently under tender preparation and works are expected to begin in the second quarter of 2024,” he added.
Awang Tengah said state-owned Petroleum Sarawak Bhd or Petros is undertaking the Samalaju pipeline project that will deliver up to 300 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d) of natural gas to the industries via pipeline.
The pipeline is expected to be completed in 4Q25 and Petroliam Nasional Bhd has agreed to supply 150 mmscf/d of gas to Samalaju.
To enhance power supply, Awang Tengah said Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) is constructing a 1,000MW combined cycle power plant, which is expected to generate first power in 2026.
With all the projects, Awang Tengah said the Sarawak government will continue to step up its efforts to attract and facilitate more quality investments to Samalaju Industrial Park, which is supported by a specially-built Samalaju Industrial Port to facilitate the import of raw materials and export of finished products from the industries.
For the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), Awang Tengah said his ministry was currently implementing a SME cluster project, covering 100ha at the Samalaju Industrial Park.
The project will be implemented in 10 phases, with the first two phases covering 16.4ha when completed.
The project involves basic infrastructure such as road access and a drainage system, the SEB substation and a Telekom Malaysia Bhd cable underground trench.
The high-rise water tanks will also be provided.