Chinese Silica Giant Quechen Investing €105M in Provence (Fos-Sur-Mer)


After going head to head with Rotterdam, and after two years of tough negotiations, Fos-sur-Mer has been chosen to site the new Quechen Silicon Chemical plant. The Chinese group, the world’s third-largest silica producer, intends investing €105M in its first European production unit, coupled with a research center. Mobilized from the very beginning, the local private and public sector stakeholders have again demonstrated that the site, the Plate-forme Industrielle et d’Innovation du Caban Tonkin (PIICTO), is an ideal location both for its geographic position and the presence on site of other industries involved in the circular economy. The red carpet was rolled out on October 18 last for the signing of the commitment to building lease by Quechen’s founder and CEO, Mr. Weidong Que, a historic moment for the Fos-sur-Mer Industrial Zone.

Building a factory on a greenfield site –something unheard of in France for ten years!- is to become a reality in Provence, with the construction of Quechen Silicon Chemicals’ new factory, the largest-ever Chinese investment project in France. The factory, which will produce silica used to make fuel-efficient “green” tires, is due to be operational in 2021.

The commitment to building lease document for Quechen’s future European plant at Fos-sur-Mer was signed on October 18, 2018, by the Group’s founder and CEO, Mr. Weidong Que. “This is a key moment in our development strategy. This factory will be a standard-bearer for Quechen in the European market. Our setting up at the Plate-forme Industrielle et d’Innovation du Caban Tonkin will enable us to collaborate with local partners. We will be using the raw materials they produce on site,” said Mr. Que.

A New Way of Working to Enhance Attractiveness in Fos-sur-Mer

“This signing is a strong indicator of investors’ interest in our logistics and port installations. The Port of Marseille is making a 12-ha plot available on the PIICTO site. The plant will be producing 90,000 tonnes of silica per year and generate 400,000 tonnes of freight annually. Provence Promotion was instrumental in the success of the project,” underlined the Port’s Christine Cabau Woehrel. The chairwoman of the board of the Port of Marseille-Fos went on to pay tribute to the work done by the economic development agency’s teams in convincing the Chinese to opt for Fos. Quechen’s investment has reassured local stakeholders of the merits of Provence Industry’Nov, the call for interest launched last spring and designed to attract new investment in the field of bio industries on an 83-hectare site.

“This commitment to building lease signing within the scope of Industry’Nov attests to the importance of Fos and the Etang de Berre. The factory will help create 130 direct jobs,” said a delighted François Bourrasse, director of Total La Mède and chairwoman of the Groupement Maritime et Industriels de Fos. Every direct job generates four induced jobs.

The industrial zone had not seen a new factory built for fifty years! “The way the Quechen project was handled represents a new way of working to enhance the region’s attractiveness,” commented Jean-Luc Chauvin, president of the CCIMP and Provence Promotion.