Thai firm says no to Burma due to unreliable electricity supply

Thai firm says no to Burma due to unreliable electricity supply

Despite surging demand in Burma, Thailand’s leading calcium-carbonate producer SurintOmya Chemicals ruled out the possibility of investing in the neighbouring country in the short term, citing unreliable electricity supply.

Sasis Monsereenusorn, chief executive of SurintOmya (Thailand) Co Ltd, said the company does not plan to invest in Burma in the near future, although demand for calcium carbonate for plastic compounds has risen there.

“The reliability of the electrical supply is keeping the company from opening up a new facility there because of the high start-up and shutdown cost of the machinery,” he said.

Founded in 1987, SurintOmya is a joint venture between the Thai partner and Switzerland-based Omya AG with ownerships of 51% and 49%.

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As part the Omya group of companies, the Thai unit is the headquarters for Thailand, Burma, Indochina and southern China.

The company operates plants and quarries in Lop Buri and Dong Nai, Vietnam. The former has a capacity of 900,000 tonnes of calcium carbonate a year, while the Vietnam location offers 100,000 tonnes per year, of which up to 95% is used domestically.

Annual demand for calcium carbonate in Thailand is 800,000 tonnes, with SurintOmya owning 80% of the market.

SurintOmya cut its growth estimate to 5-7% this year before rebounding to 10% in 2014.

SurintOmya produces two grades of calcium carbonate. The high-quality grade is used in the production of paper, plastic, paints and consumer products, while mass production is for cement, roof tiles and agriculture.

“If the 10% growth projection can be maintained, there is enough calcite deposits to last another 70 years,” said plant director Somnuk Tengchatapan.

“Should flooding on the scale of 2011 occur in Lop Buri, the fuel cost for water pumping alone would force us to abandon the quarry,” said Mr Sasis.

This article was first published in the Bangkok Post on 15 October 2013.

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