by Li Binian, Zheng Siyuan
CAIRO, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Some 120 km away from the Egyptian capital city of Cairo, a huge cement plant has come up in the vast desert in just two years.
Located on the outskirts of Beni Suef, a city in central Egypt, the plant boasts six production lines with a total production capacity of 6,000 tons per day.
"It is the biggest cement plant in the world to be built all at one time and in one place," said Wu Yong, project manager at China National Materials Group (Sinoma), the Chinese firm responsible for building the plant.
He said there are cement plants in the world that can produce more, but those were built in separate stages.
"The schedule was really tight for us. We signed the contract on June 1, 2016 and were required to start production by the end of 2017," Wu said. "That meant we had to do all the geological exploration, topographic survey, design and mining as well as build the 17,000-sq-m living area in less than two years."
Wu vividly remembers the first day at the construction site when everyone got lost in the desert.
"But we did not give up. The next day we brought all the measuring instruments and laid the first coordinates," he said.
Then the workers swarmed in and the construction site was dotted with white-board makeshift houses and drilling rigs.
"The site was full of life when Chinese workers and their Egyptian colleagues worked in the scorching sun," Wu said.
The plant produced its first clinkers in December 2017 and passed all inspections in May 2018 with all the indicators meeting or exceeding the contract standards.
On Aug. 15, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi inaugurated the cement plant, saying industrial projects like it can help reduce imports, save the country's foreign currency reserves, and provide thousands of job opportunities.
"Egyptians are really impressed by our speed. Some Egyptian people told me that we built the plant with hurricane speed," Wu said proudly.
Egypt has launched several mega projects, including the construction of a new administrative capital east of Cairo and the Suez Canal area development project, to boost its economy. All these need large amounts of cement.
The Egyptian Armed Forces and the real estate sector are the biggest cement consumers in Egypt. With the production of the Beni Suef cement plant, prices of cement have dropped 25 to 30 percent, an Egyptian Armed Forces Engineering Authority official said.
"The project has made outstanding contributions to local economic development and set a model of Chinese standards and 'China speed' to serve the Belt and Road Initiative," said Liu Xiaoning, deputy general manager of Chengdu Design and Research Institute of Building Materials Industry Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Sinoma.