A positive response from residents in Songkhla, Thailand has brought hope that the country's first upstream steel complex might go ahead after years of delays, says Wikrom Wajragupta, president of the Iron and Steel Institute of Thailand.

Ranot district in the southern province was one of four potential sites identified for the project. Economic conditions in the district are poor and the investment is expected to improve the local economy, he said.

The other three potential sites identified by the Industry Ministry were Laem Sing in Chanthaburi, Sai Buri in Pattani, and Muang in Rayong.

"We have gone to those locations and have talked to the communities. The warm response we have received from the southern part of Thailand came as a surprise to us," said Mr Wikrom.

Discussions are still taking place as well with communities is Chanthaburi.

Mr Wikrom said the talks with communities focused on the potential business opportunities in the area as well as alternative sources of income. Proponents of the huge steel plant have proposed setting up a fund and providing job opportunities in the services sector, such as transport and logistics.

Both the Songkhla and Chanthaburi sites have good infrastructure and are close to deep-sea ports, said Mr Wikrom. The final site selection is expected to be proposed in September or October to the Industry Ministry before being submitted to the cabinet.

Source Bangkok Post