Plant rethink

  • Environment
  • Tuesday, 16 Jul 2013

Plans to build a cement plant near Kampung Merapoh in Pahang are now on hold. 

LIPIS Cement had received approval for a clinker and cement plant near Kampung Merapoh, Pahang, as far back as 1997. The project site had also been delineated as a heavy industries zone. The project never took off but the company still holds the manufacturing licence, while the lease to the land is held by another company, Bintang Tower.

Singapore-based ASN Cement revealed its interest to restart the project 18 months ago but it has not applied for any licence. The company declined to be interviewed but in a short e-mail to The Star, states that its plan is now on hold.

“ASN Cement is fully aware of the concerns surrounding the project. Due to these concerns and other considerations, the project is presently being held in abeyance,” says Michael Madrigal, head of commercial and marketing. “In the event that ASN Cement should proceed with the project, we would like to highlight that the concerns of the local community and the public in general, will be adequately addressed.”

A source familiar with the project explains that the company had intended to buy over the shares of Lipis Cement, and as such, take over the manufacturing licence. “ASN is just reviving a project that has been there a long time ago,” he says, adding that the company takeover plan has not been finalised as there are conditions attached to it.

The source says that Lipis Cement holds an approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project but ASN has conducted a fresh and detailed EIA, which has yet to be submitted. He says 12 caves were found within a 5km-radius of the project site but none will be affected by it. “We recognise that some of the caves are spectacular and we have even offered to establish accessibility to the sites and support development of tourism there.”

He says the two limestone hills which will be quarried do not have caves. “Within the project site, there is no unique biodiversity as the area has been logged over and mined for gold in the 1980s,” he says.

The source says that the cement plant will use approved technology similar to plants recently approved for operations in Gopeng and Bahau in Perak, and all emissions will be within Department of Environment (DOE) standards.

He adds that the Pahang Government has not officially stated if it is for or against the project. He says as the area has been zoned for heavy industries, another company could still carry out the project should ASN abandon its plan, and other industries might be established. The source also points out that the local authority should clarify why the impact on flora and fauna was not looked at when the area was zoned for heavy industries in the late 1990s. – TAN CHENG LI

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