According to local reports, officials met last week to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of a 400km railway line connecting a new steel mill in Preah Vihear and new seaport off the coast of Koh Konh, both in Cambodia.
Worth at least $11bn, the new developments and associated infrastructure are to be carried out by Cambodia Iron and Steel Mining Industry Group with China Railway Group. The Phnom Penh Post quoted Chairman of the Cambodia Iron and Steel Mining Industry Group Zhang Chuan Li as saying: “Work will begin in July 2013 on all three parts of the project. It will employ more than 20,000 local workers and 3,000 Chinese experts.”
The steel mill is to be located in Rovieng, northern Cambodia over an area of 14 sq km and will be linked to a seaport in the south-west province of Koh Kong by a new railway line which will benefit from 11 new-build railway stations.
Over the last few years, China has been a solid investor in Cambodia’s infrastructure as part of an ongoing partnership between the two regions. Reuters reported in September 2012: “Four loan agreements for unspecified projects worth about $420 million were signed when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visited China over the weekend [1-2 September 2012].
“Another three loan agreements, worth more than $80 million, are expected to be signed this year, [Secretary of State for Finance] Aun Porn Moniroth said, adding that Wen had also promised a grant of 150 million yuan ($24m) as ‘a gift’ for Cambodia to use on any priority project. Chinese investment in Cambodia totalled $1.9 billion last year, more than double the combined investment by ASEAN countries and 10 times more than the United States, which is trying to extend its influence in the region.”
Other Chinese projects in progress on Cambodian soil include the Si Dengwo Hydropower Station and Battambang Power Transmission Project in Phnom Penh by Datang Group.