SAMALAJU (Nov 2): The proposed RM1.7 billion epichlorohydrin (ECH) manufacturing plant project in Samalaju Industrial Park held its groundbreaking ceremony today.

The project is a joint venture investment by OCiKumho Sdn Bhd and Korea Kumho Petro Chemical Group.

Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said at a time of uncertainties due to global geopolitics and the economy, OCI and Kumho’s investment is very much welcomed.

“This latest investment from OCI and Kumho in Samalaju Industrial Park is a testament to the high level of confidence investors have in the Sarawak GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) government,” he said when officiating at the event on behalf of Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said the project is in line with Sarawak’s Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030, which encourages more development in green and renewable industries so that Sarawak can contribute to the national aspiration of a low-carbon and eventually carbon-neutral society by 2050.

When operational, the new plant will produce ECH through hydroelectric power with bio-glycerin and natural salts.

ECH is an important raw material in the manufacture of epoxy used in coating applications in all industrial fields such as shipbuilding, automobiles, IT, construction, and civil engineering.

Awang Tengah said OCI Group will also expand its chlor-alkali production.

OCI has invested more than RM8 billion to produce solar grade polysilicon in Sarawak, creating employment and business opportunities for locals.

Besides the current expansions by investors in Samalaju and Sama Jaya in Kuching, Awang Tengah said there are several new investors who are negotiating with the Sarawak government on proposed projects.

“These investors are attracted to the green hydropower potential of Sarawak to produce green products such as steel, hydrogen, and components for EV batteries, as the world moves towards more sustainable development,” he said.

He pointed out Sarawak remains as an attractive location for investment, ranking among the top destinations for investment in manufacturing projects in Malaysia.

“Despite the pandemic, Sarawak managed to attract a total investment of RM23.17 billion, with RM16.08 billion approved in 2020 and RM7.09 billion in 2021,” he said.

He said for Samalaju Industrial Park, RM21 billion was invested by international investors and, in turn, this generated RM4.6 billion last year in spin-offs for the local economy (2020: RM4.05 billion).

“Total employment created was 7,800 in 2021 (2020: 6,600) as well as wages paid amounting to RM425 million (2020: RM342 million).

“In 2021, Samalaju Industrial Park recorded total exports of RM13.9 billion (2020: RM9.4 billion),” added Awang Tengah, who is Minister for International Trade, Industry and Investment.

Among those present at the ceremony were Deputy Minister for International Trade, Industry and Investment Datuk Dr Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, ministry advisor (SME) Datuk Mohamad Naroden Majais, ministry acting permanent secretary Dzulkornain Masron, OCI Group chairman Baik Woo Sug, and Korea Kumho Petro Chemical Group chairman Park Chan Koo.