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JFE streams into Southeast Asia water treatment sector

Japanese company eyes 50% rise in orders to $137m for fiscal 2020

JFE Engineering partnered with another Japanese company to build the Hoa Lac Sewage Treatment Plant near Hanoi, capable of treating 36,000 cubic meters of wastewater per day.

TOKYO -- JFE Engineering is speeding construction of Southeast Asian water treatment facilities in a bid to log 15 billion yen ($137 million) in regional orders in fiscal 2020, up 50% from the previous year.

The company -- part of JFE Holdings, which includes Japanese steelmaker JFE Steel -- completed a sewage plant near Hanoi earlier in January while building three other water treatment facilities in Vietnam, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

JFE Engineering is shoring up its water treatment business as it prepares to enter relatively untapped markets such as Indonesia.

The new plant, located in Hoa Lac Hi Tech Park near Hanoi, can treat up to 36,000 cubic meters of wastewater per day -- equivalent to sewage from 120,000 people.

Japanese machinery maker Tsukishima Kikai joined in construction of the plant.

JFE is also building the Yen Xa water treatment plant in Hanoi. Slated to be completed in 2022, the plant will boast Vietnam's largest treatment capacity at 270,000 cubic meters per day, or the equivalent of sewage from 900,000 people.

Water pollution has become a large problem in Vietnam, partly due to underdeveloped sewage treatment infrastructure. JFE is counting on the advanced treatment capabilities of its new Vietnam plants to help market its technology.

As Southeast Asian economies continue to boom, more strain is placed on water infrastructure, driving demand for new and better facilities. JFE hopes to siphon off a large share of the market.

The Philippines is beefing up its water treatment infrastructure, and tabbed JFE for the country's largest water treatment plant, due to go online in 2021. The 10 billion yen ($91.70 million) project will supply water to 6 million people.

The company already has a solid foothold in the country, winning orders for more than 30 water treatment facilities. This pits it squarely against global industry leaders in the region, such as France's Veolia Environment and Spain's Acciona.

JFE's Japanese rivals are also targeting the Southeast Asian market, with Hitachi Aqua-Tech Engineering marketing its water treatment technology in the Philippines through a joint venture with a local company.

Toshiba Water Solutions has begun constructing a wastewater treatment plant in the Philippines, while Swing is building plants in Myanmar and other countries in the region.

Indonesia is also coming into play as infrastructure projects are expected to skyrocket in Southeast Asia's most populous nation.

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