Erdos Group plans laid bare

Don Weinland, Phnom Penh Post, Aug. 3 2011

Documents obtained by The Post have shed new light on the scale of Chinese investment connected with the controversial Boeung Kak lake real estate project.

The US$98 million project in northern Phnom Penh is the smallest of Mongolia Erdos Hongjun Holding Group’s planned investments in the Kingdom, according to investment applications from the Development and Reform Commission in Ordos City, China.

Starting in the first quarter of 2012, the Chinese company and a Cambodian partner plan to invest roughly $1.9 billion in aluminum mining and energy projects.

In April 2012, construction is set to begin on the first of two 135-megawatt power generators about 14 kilometres northeast of Sihanoukville, according to the documents.

Erdos and their local partner, Cambodia International Investment Development Group, will invest some $383 million in the project. The power plants will be located on an 18-square-kilometre site facing Sihanouk Bay. In June, reporters confirmed ruling-party Senator Lao Meng Khin owned Cambodia International Investment Development Group.

Construction on an aluminum mine in Mondulkiri province is also set to begin in the first quarter of next year and will be completed within four years, according to the documents, published in Chinese.
Erdos and Cambodia International Investment Development Group is set to invest more than $1.5 billion in the project, with an initial investment of $80 million.

The partner group will make an initial investment of $20 million.

Despite the scale of investment that Erdos and its partners will pump into the Cambodian economy, NGOs have been unable to reach the Chinese company since protests erupted over forced evictions at Boeung Kak lake in 2008.

“We wrote letters and tried to contact the Chinese company. We tried to connect the people at the lake with the Chinese company. But [Erdos] never responded,” Sia Phearum, secretariat of the Human Rights Task Force, said yesterday.

Several human rights organisations, including Bridges Across Borders and the Business and Human Rights Resource Center, have reportedly tried unsuccessfully to reach Erdos and their partners.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said he was aware of a link between the Boeung Kak lake development and other energy and mining projects. He called the connection concerning.

“The concern is this company’s lack of reputation after the problems at Boeung Kak lake. We expect similar treatment of the people living in areas affected by [Erdos’] development projects. These projects could be a disaster for villagers,” he said.

The Post this week contacted Erdos Group in Inner Mongolia, but was not granted interviews with officials at Ordos City’s Reform and Development Commission and its representative for Cambodia International Investment Development Group based in China’s Guangdong province.

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