Rotam Global AgroSciences Ltd (龍燈), which makes agricultural biotechnological products, said yesterday that it would halt construction of its Xinhua District (新化), Greater Tainan, factory until it eases public doubts about pollution.
“We will try our best to explain the nature of our factory to the people in the district, but if they still believe it will do more harm than good, we will build the factory in another country,” chairman Mark Lu (羅昌庚) said yesterday at a Taipei press conference.
About 500 residents protested against the project at the its commencement ceremony on April 1.
In response, Lu said the company is not involved in the manufacturing process, which creates the most pollution, saying that manufacturing was conducted in China.
The only pollution the factory is expected to cause would be the wastewater from cleaning its machines, Lu said.
He said the greatest pollution caused by agricultural biotechnological products is when they are used in farming, not when they are being made.
Rotam said it planned to invest NT$900 million (US$29.82 million) in the first stage of construction, which was expected to be completed by the end of next year. The factory was expected to generate NT$3 billion in revenue per year.
The company also planned to spend NT$500 million in the second stage of construction, which was to be completed by the end of 2017.
Lu said Rotam will not be affected by the project’s delay because it has extra capacity, and it will select a foreign location for the investment if opposition remains strong.
The Greater Tainan City Government said yesterday that the construction permit for the factory had expired on Saturday last week, as the company failed to start construction before the deadline.
The city said it would conduct a comprehensive review if Rotam files a new application.
Last year, Rotam posted revenue of NT$8.67 billion, up 11.2 percent from NT$7.81 billion the year before, but net profit declined to NT$344.01 million, or NT$2.7 per share, from NT$512.64 million, or NT$4.43 per share a year ago, due to fluctuation of the Brazilian real.
It has set a sales target of NT$10 billion for this year and aims to post 40 percent profit growth this year, Lu said.
Rotam’s shares fell 1.29 percent to NT$61.2 yesterday in Taipei.