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Afghan cement plant reopens

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World Cement,

Reuters are reporting that after a break of 20 years, Afghanistan's first cement plant has started up in the countryside near Kabul.

In an area short of industry and jobs, workers hope the relaunch of the plant heralds the revival of an industry damaged by decades of war and destruction.

However many are unsure whether the plant has a viable future unless it is thoroughly modernised.

Jabal Saraj, which now employs 150 workers, is a small factory with daily capacity of 100 t and equipment that is at least 40 years out of date, the US Geological Survey said in a 2011 report.

Talks with a private operator to develop a separate, larger plant at Jabal Saraj have run for months, however for now, the government has decided the old plant still serves a purpose.

Afghanistan's only other major cement manufacturer, the Ghori cement plant, has daily capacity of more than 1000 t, but domestic industry is dwarfed by the millions of t of imports from neighbours, including Pakistan and Iran.

Demand for building materials has fallen sharply since international forces left in 2014 but the market has not collapsed.

For the moment, however, Jabal Saraj relies on government subsidy to survive.

Edited from source by Joseph Green. Source: Reuters

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