South Korean conglomerate AFKO Group GMEX has expressed interest in reviving the Kankesanthurai (KKS) cement plant located in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, the country’s Industry and Commerce Ministry said.
“AFKO specialises in cement projects. We are keen to partner in the Kankesanthurai Cement Project and are ready to enter with US $450 million as a start. We shall also bring in all the necessary machineries and technology and can start from scratch. We only need Sri Lanka’s land and labour,” AFKO Group GMEX Chairman Keun Young Lee said.
He said this during a recent meeting with Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen in Colombo.
Lee’s AFKO Group, which merged with Korea’s multinational Hyundai Group in 2008, has its own construction and cement projects in Africa and elsewhere. Hyundai Motor Group has 18 affiliate firms with about US $35 billion turnover and is the second largest conglomerate in South Korea. “We are not limited to KKS. We are keen about cement production industries elsewhere in Sri Lanka,
including Mannar. Our feasibility study team will visit Sri Lanka shortly to start assessments. We like to enlist Korean conglomerate Ssangyong C&T which ran more than 30 large projects abroad since 1990, as our main engineering company when we start KKS construction,” Lee added.
The KKS Factory commenced operations in 1950 under the Department of Industries and was converted to a public corporation in 1956, being named as Kankesan Cement Works.
Existence of limestone deposits in Kankseanthurai for cement production was a major incentive in establishing the factory in KKS. It is reported that the huge limestone deposits exceeding 80 million metric tonnes in the area are sufficient for manufacturing of cement for another 100 years –even if they are extracted at a rate of 3,500 metric tonnes a day.
Previous news reports said that UAE-based Ras Al Khaimah Cement (RAKC) had expressed interest in reviving the plant with a US$ 100 million investment.
In 2011/12, a high level decision was taken to amalgamate Sri Lanka Cement Corporation (SLCC) with Lanka Cement Limited (LCL). SLCC and LCL were jointly planning to resume bagging operations at Kankesanthurai factory.
The KKS factory closed its production in 1991 due to the then raging Northern war. At the time of its closure its production capacity was 115000 metric tonnes, with around 400 factory employees losing their livelihoods.