Mawlamyine Cement Factory Stops Operations

Monday, July 20, 2020

A cement factory belonging to Mawlamyine Cement Ltd. (MCL) has halted its operations due to a lack of available raw materials.

Some 1,000 workers have been laid off, but the closure has been welcomed by locals and environmental activists who opposed the factory’s energy reliance on coal.

The Thailand-based Siam Cement Group (SCG) is the majority shareholder in the factory, which it announced would stop making cement last week due to a limestone shortage.

“MCL reported to the Union government that they would stop the cement factory on July 15 because they didn’t have enough limestone for the factory,” Dr. Min Kyi Win, Mon State’s minister of natural resources and the environment, told NMG.

He added that the news was not directly reported to the state government, which received a copy of the statement given to the Union government.

Min Zaw, a worker in the cement factory, said that he had heard that the factory would close in August.

“I heard that they will pay compensation to the laborers, but at the moment I don’t know anything about it exactly,” he said.

Other workers said that the factory was not closing, and had just paused operations until raw materials became available.

NMG tried to call representatives in the management of the MCL cement factory for more information but received no response.

The factory has been criticized for relying on a coal-fired power plant to generate energy, so some locals are pleased that they have stopped operations.

“We do not demand that the factory close. The factory is operating through the use of coal, so it impacts the environment. We demand that the factory not use coal. Now that the factory has stopped, whatever the reason, it’s what we want,” local man Nai Mit told NMG.

MCL also reported that SCG-branded cement is likely to run out in the market at the end of August.

The Burmese-owned Pacific Link Cement Industries Ltd. owns a 30 percent share of MCL, along with SCG’s 70 percent. They invested a total of US$400 million in the cement factory.

The factory began operations—with coal as its primary energy source—on April 1, 2017 and has the capacity to produce 5,000 tons of cement per day.