Onyx Group to launch cement plant operations in South this year | Sunday Observer

Onyx Group to launch cement plant operations in South this year

17 January, 2021
Inside the Ferentino tyre factory. Pic: Ranjith Asanka
Inside the Ferentino tyre factory. Pic: Ranjith Asanka

The Onyx Group will commence operations of the cement grinding plant in Mirijjawila, Hambantota this year, said Onyx Group Chairman Nandana Lokuwithana on the sidelines of the launch of Ferentino Tyres, the largest tyre and radial manufacturing facility in South East Asia, in Horana on Thursday.

The nearly USD 100 million cement grinding facility has a capacity to produce around 3.6 million metric tons of cement increasing the quantum manufactured locally.

The annual domestic demand for cement is around 8.5 million MT of which around 2.8 million is produced locally.

“We are also exploring the possibility of setting up a steel manufacturing facility in the country soon,” Lokuwithana said.

Sri Lanka’s tyre manufacture for the domestic market will be increased to 100 percent from 75 percent with the operation of the Ferentino tyre plant which will cater to the local and global market, said Minister of Industries, Wimal Weerawansa.

The Minister said the country’s export income from exports of rubber based products will increase to around Rs. 200 billion soon with the contribution of the state-of-the-art tyre manufacturing facility.

“We hope to double the export income from the industrial sector this year from the Rs. 149 billion notched last year despite the pandemic,” the Minister said.

Minister of Plantations, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana, said the Government has allocated around Rs. 10 billion through the budget to develop industries which includes enhancing capacity and worker skills which will boost exports from industries. “The price of RSI Grade rubber shot up to Rs. 450 from around Rs. 250 since this government took over.

“We are confident prices will be stable as measures have been taken to support the plantation sector,” the Minister said. The Ferentino Tyre Corporation (Pvt) Limited, was opened by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday.

The facility constructed with an investment of USD 250 million is the brainchild of entrepreneur, Nandana Lokuwithana, who is currently the Chairman of Ceylon Steel Corporation (Pvt) Ltd.

The landmark project is the first and only one of its kind in Sri Lanka and is tipped to be the largest such facility in the whole of Southeast Asia, manufacturing Passenger Car Radials (PCR) including a specialised category for SUVs, two-wheelers, three-wheelers, trucks, buses and solid tyres. A major boost for the country’s export sector, the new manufacturing plant seamlessly combines state-of-the-art European technology in tyre manufacturing with local craftsmanship for an optimum, world-class output.

The project is facilitated by the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) and aims to generate a substantial number of employment opportunities directly and indirectly. Ferentino Tyres will use locally sourced rubber as a main raw material compelling the local industry to level itself to deliver to the global expectation.

Phase 1 of the project has already been completed and it was commissioned while construction of Phase 2 is well on schedule to be completed in March. Lokuwithana said, “We are excited to commence operations at this timely juncture giving the local economy the much needed gentle push to recover from post-pandemic challenges particularly pertaining to employment and export revenue. I would like to extend my gratitude to the President for his vision of elevating Sri Lanka to become an industrial hub in the ensuing years and the Government sector officials, especially the BOI, who work tirelessly toward the same unified goal.

“I hope Ferentino Tyres will serve to inspire and incentivise other discerning investors to explore the many exciting opportunities that Sri Lanka holds,” he said. Lokuwithana said the manufacturing facility will be an equal opportunity employer having hired many capable and qualified females for technical roles changing the hitherto prevalent status quo in the manufacturing sector. Furthermore, the plant has been thoughtfully designed to be environmentally conscious.

Nandana Lokuwithana is an entrepreneur of global standing heading the Ceylon Steel Corporation Ltd and the Onyx Group in the UAE with a host of subsidiaries including a steel fabrication company.

His other investments include the Marriot Al Jadaf Hotel in Dubai and Marangoni Industrial Tyres Lanka (Pvt) Ltd.