A worker at the construction site of Semen Indonesia plant in Rembang in Central Java in May 2015. (GA Photo/Mohammad Defrizal)

Semen Indonesia Rembang Plant to Be Fully Operational in 2016


DECEMBER 16, 2015

Rembang. State-owned Semen Indonesia, the country's largest cement maker, is optimistic that its controversial Rembang plant in Central Java will be fully operational next year, months ahead of schedule.

The plant, which cost the company for Rp 4.6 trillion ($327 million), would increase its capacity by an additional 3 million tons of cement annually, said M. Suparni, the president director of Semen Indonesia on Tuesday.

Suparni said the plant construction is at present "80 percent complete," and will be fully operational in 2016 as opposed to its initial scheduled date of early 2017.

Several Rembang residents have challenged the project in courts, arguing that the plant and limestone mining activities would destroy the region's natural karst caves and its water reservoir. The residents however lost their case in both the district and high courts and are now bringing the case to the Supreme Court for a final ruling on the matter.

Semen Indonesia has maintained its position that according to its plans, the company will only dig limestone to a certain depth which would not disturb the karst layer's ability to contain water.

In addition, Suparni said the company has been trying to diffuse social tension over the project by increasing its corporate social responsibility fund by more than half to Rp 20 billion.

He also claimed that since Semen Indonesia started building its plant in Rembang, new businesses such as five-star hotels have emerged in Rembang to support the plant's operations.

Abdul Aziz, a Central Java provincial legislator, said he was optimistic the plant would help the region free itself from poverty. Nearly 23 percent of the Central Java population currently lives in poverty.

"In the next five years, we want to see [poverty levels] change," Aziz said.