Wed, Jun 14, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Hsu defends cement firm, says imports costly option

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

Faced with rising public anger over one of its companies’ mining activities, Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東) yesterday said that Asia Cement Corp (亞泥) provides a vital resource for the nation that would otherwise require costly imports.

Asia Cement has been under increasing scrutiny after aerial footage taken by the late filmmaker Chi Po-lin (齊柏林) went public, amid rising suspicion that the company had expanded its mining operations in eastern Taiwan.

It is unfortunate that the public has misunderstood Asia Cement, Hsu said at the shareholders’ meeting of U-Ming Marine Transport Corp (裕民航運), another group member.

While environmentalists said the footage showed that Asia Cement had excavated deeper into Taroko National Park, Hsu said the description was misleading.

He said that excavating deeper is a common practice adopted by many advanced economies, as the method minimizes the surface area being mined.

He added that the crater could collect enough water to form a lake, which he said would restore the area’s natural beauty and provide a habitat for fish.

Digging deeper into the site is also a costlier method, Hsu said, while acknowledging that the footage did not put the company in a good light.

Taiwan cannot afford to rely on imports to satisfy its annual demand for concrete, with prices overseas averaging about US$30 to US$50 per tonne, the group chairman added.

Many European countries — including Switzerland — have not supplanted domestic cement mining with imports, he said.

Meanwhile, a petition organized by Citizens of the Earth, Taiwan, an environmental conservation organization, to abolish the extension of Asia Cement’s mining rights had gathered about 150,000 signatures as of 2pm yesterday.

Abolishing the company’s mining rights while it has met all compliance rules would be unjust, Hsu said.

Separately, Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said that the Executive Yuan has suspended the assessment of 42 mining rights applications until draft amendments to the Mining Act (礦業法) are complete.

The amendments would bolster the act by including stipulations on the amount of resources that would be open to mining, in addition to requirements for additional environmental impact studies on applications to increase the mining quotas, he said.

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