THAILAND: CP plans B300m rubber production plant

With a capacity of 120 tonnes per day of block rubber, the plant will absorb latex supplied from 70,000 rai of rubber fields in the area, said Jirasakdi Sangiamkittikul, the CP Group's chief executive for crop integration.

The goal is exports to China, which used nearly 4 million tonnes of rubber products last year, mostly in its tyre and automobile industries.

Mr Jirasakdi said the production plant will be the group's first and if successful it may plan another.

The investment in block rubber, a mid-stream industry, enables more integration after only supplying rubber saplings and planting rubber for several years.

He was optimistic about the project thanks to strong demand for auto tyres in Russia and China.

Most importantly, there is no substitute product for block rubber in the tyre industry.

"Rubber prices are gaining and China is starting to stock up on rubber products," he said.

Thailand produces about 3.2 million tonnes of natural rubber a year, of which 2.8 to 2.9 million tonnes are exported as either rubber sheet or block to major markets in China and Japan.

Source: Daily "Bangkok Post", Bangkok; 4 Oct 2012

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)