The Lao Cement Company, owner of the Kathing cement brand, is facing a coal shortage while market demand for its products is increasing, according to director of the Lao Cement Factory No 2, Mr Vanthong Sitthikoun.
"Presently, our market needs at least 2Mt of cement. This excludes the demand for building hydropower plants as 20 of them are under construction and for the development of high speed railway from China to Laos," Vanthong said.
He also said that there were six cement factories in the country with a combined annual production capacity of 1.5Mt and due to the small output, cement imports from neighbouring countries were unavoidable.
"Realising the increasing market demand in the country, cement producers are paying attention to increasing capacity in the cement industry," said Vanthong.
Another cement factory is under construction in the southern province of Saravane with a forecast output capacity of 0.5Mta. The factory is expected to start production in the middle of this year.
Lao Cement will also build a third factory in Vang Vieng, where its first and second plants are in operation, according to Vanthong. The new works, with a capacity of 0.7-1Mta, is expected to be completed in 2013.
While market demand is significantly increasing, coal supply in the country is not able to meet the requirements of the cement industry. As a result, additional coal is imported from foreign countries.
"On behalf of the president of the Lao Cement Producers Association, I would like to propose to the government to grant concession to investors to prospect and mine coal for the use of cement production," said Vanthong.