Venezuela to invest US$220 million to build cement plant with Iran

Venezuela will invest US$220 million (Ђ180 million) to build a cement plant with the help of Iran during the next three years, a government official said Tuesday.

&to=' target=_blank>Venezuela has paid an Iranian cement company roughly US$48.5 million (Ђ39.6 million) as an initial payment to begin the project.

The Venezuelan government will be the sole owner and manager of the new company, which only will supply the local market.

President &to=' target=_blank>Hugo Chavez repeatedly has complained about the price of cement in the Andean country and has vowed to make it cheaper. Prices for some types of cement are now state-regulated.

The new company could sell a bag of cement at about 50 percent below the current average market price, estimated Rafael Lugo, president of the new state-owned company named Cerro Azul.

"The plant is expected to produce 1 million tons (1.1 million U.S. tons) of cement when it's up and running," said Lugo. It plans to begin selling cement within 18 months.

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