Work started on a new €170m cement plant outside the Albanian capital, in the latest sign of increased foreign investment flowing into the country.
The plant, in the town of Fushe Kruja, 25 kilometres from Tirana, will be owned by Antea Cement, a subsidiary of Greece’s Titan Cement Group.
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, present at the inaugural ceremony, said the project will benefit the local economy.
"A large number of workers will be employed in the construction phase of this plant, and hundreds will work there when it starts operations," said Berisha.
"This project is from a large multinational company and is clear sign of growing investor confidence in the country," he added.
The plant, which represents Albania’s largest greenfield investment in the last decade, will host Chinese technology with equipment from the manufacturer and contractor, CBMI Construction Co. Ltd.
Titan Group has secured a 99 years lease and right of use for the quarries and land for the plant, through an agreement with the local authorities which has been ratified by the Council of Ministers and the Albanian Parliament.
The plant is expected to be operational in December 2009, producing 1.5Mt of cement a year, targeting to supply the Albanian market as well as export to the international markets.
The investment includes the development of the required quarries, infrastructure and logistics.
The total project cost will be financed by the Titan Group. The International Finance Corporation, IFC, and the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, EBRD, could potentially participate in a part of the project as equity investors, both of which are in advanced negotiations with Titan.
Two other cement plants involving foreign investors have already received approval to be built in Albania. The total value of the investments by Spanish-based Cemento Aguillas and Italy’s Italcementi amounts to €205 million.