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Bicol Airport Makes Good Progress

by Philippine Resources - May 03, 2021

The Bicol International Airport (BIA) in Albay, one of the administration's signature development programs under the "BUILD, BUILD, BUILD" initiative, is making rapid progress, with an overall progress rate of 79.94 per cent.

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) said in a press release that the BIA building is progressing well after nearly 13 years of delays.

 “Under the current administration of our strong-willed President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, and with the visionary leadership of DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, the BIA project is finally moving at an accelerated pace,” the DOTR said in a press statement.

The first pre-feasibility report for the Bicol International Airport (BIA) was completed in 1996, according to the DOTR, and the Notice to Proceed for the project's development was issued in 2003. However, real construction didn't start until 2016.

Package 2A of the airport development programme, which includes the installation of landside facilities and other structures, is 93.71% finished as of 19 April 2021.

Package 2B, which includes the building of the PTB and runway expansion, as well as the taxiway, drainage, and other site improvement work, is 64.61 per cent complete.

The airport is expected to serve a total of two (2) million passengers per year once it is completed, which will undoubtedly increase air traffic and tourist arrivals in the city.

The completion of this long-awaited major transportation project for Bicolanos, according to Secretary Tugade, is a powerful expression of President Duterte's willingness to see substantial change across regions, which he recognised and pressed for with the assistance and full cooperation of the DOTr aviation industry, as well as other government agencies and local government units.

The airport, which is envisioned as a main development initiative under the "BUILD, BUIILD, BUIILD" scheme, will pave the way for Albay province and the Bicol Region to be turned into an economic powerhouse, benefiting Bicolanos for years to come with massive prospects for more employment, entrepreneurship opportunities, and a future tourism boom.

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Philippine Resources - May 07, 2021

DOTr Expresses Excitement Over Airport Developments

After leading the opening of the latest PHP222-million taxiway at the country's second-busiest air hub, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade voiced excitement about existing developments at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA). “The new taxiway will increase the capacity of MCIA to accommodate more aircraft, from 35 to 50 movements per hour, including wide-bodied aircraft,” Tugade said during the inauguration at the MCIA in Lapu-Lapu City. The taxiway, he said, would be a "huge help" in improving the airport's operations as the parallel runway is being built, giving MCIA an advantage to become "world-class and competitive." The extended taxiway, according to Tugade, is expected to increase passenger traffic and aircraft movement in the country's second-busiest air hub's general aviation sector. In readiness for potential expansions, this would also fit wide-body aircraft. Around 60 jobs were available during the building of the taxiway, and “more employment opportunities are expected as a result of the expected increase in the number of aircraft using the new taxiway,” he said. Aside from the taxiway, the DOTr chief also presided over the opening of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAPnew )'s administration office, which is situated inside the airport complex. Tugade said that the building, which houses the agency's numerous facilities, would enable staff to offer more effective service and comfort to its stakeholders. Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, who was among the other government officials present at the ceremony, stressed MCIA's significant position in the country's travel and transportation system, which has an economic effect, with "Cebu's stature as a major tourist and investment destination." “In fact, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country that resulted in travel restrictions and quarantine protocols, Cebu was bustling with foreign and domestic tourists, driving the economic growth substantially,” he said. In 2019, an estimated 4.3 million visitors visited Cebu, producing hundreds of thousands of jobs and investments for Cebuanos, particularly those in the countryside. Dino noted that the pandemic has had a significant impact on Cebu's economy, as well as the rest of the region. “But together with our national and local leaders, we are now looking towards recovery and the gradual reopening of the province to more tourists,” he said, mentioning the efforts of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, who has led the economic reopening of the island. The economy of Central Visayas is dominated by Cebu. When the improved population quarantine was implemented in the second quarter of 2020, the city had a high unemployment rate of 16.7%. In the first quarter of 2021, the unemployment rate fell significantly to just 7%. In addition, when enterprises resumed operations in the third and fourth quarters of 2020, industrial power and petroleum demand increased. According to Dino, respondents to a business expectation survey conducted in Central Visayas this year showed upbeat business optimism. “Moving forward, we are expecting more domestic and international flights to come to Cebu once we’ve overcome this health crisis. Thus, the timely completion of the parallel taxiway would boost the efforts of making the MCIA a major regional hub. It will prove useful in optimizing the arrival and departure of aircraft which we expect to increase over time,” he noted. According to him, the Duterte administration's "Build, Build, Build" policy has improved the country's airport infrastructure. DOTr and CAAP have completed 121 airport projects under Tugade's leadership, including the award-winning MCIA and the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, the country's first eco-friendly airport.

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Philippine Resources - May 07, 2021

Semirara Mining Expects Profit Recovery This Year

Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC), a publicly traded integrated energy firm, expect some profit recovery this year, owing to improved coal and power demand and costs. SMPC chairman and CEO Isidro Consunji said at the company's virtual stockholders' meeting that the company's bottom line will boost as the coal and energy markets rebound from last year's historic lows. “To take advantage of the upswing, we will capitalize on our COVID-19 resiliency and adaptation strategy of focusing on our people, finances, and execution skills. However, given our operational headwinds and until our country reaches herd immunity, it is unlikely that we will return to our pre-pandemic profit level this year,” he said. The business ended in 2020 with a combined net income of P3.3 billion, down 66% from P9.6 billion the previous year. Revenues dropped 36.2 per cent to P23.3 billion as coal production, sales, and prices fell, while energy sales fell due to low power rates and Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corp's (SLPGC) expected and unplanned outages. The coal division of SMPC and the SLPGC plants will be the key drivers of development this year. With remedial steps introduced in Molave North Block 7 (NB7), the coal industry is expected to reach 13 million metric tons, according to SMPC president and COO Maria Cristina Gotianun. “This year, we expect our coal business to perform better on the back of recovering consumption and prices. The remedial measures we have been implementing since December have also allowed us to steadily normalize production. Now that the water seepage at NB7 has gone down to manageable levels, we expect annual production to hit 13 million metric tons,” she said. Due to excessive water seepages, SMPC postponed mining operations in Molave NB7 in early December, reducing coal output by 13% to 13.2 million metric tons. SLPGC is expected to drive profits in SMPC's power market due to higher sales, but Sem-Calaca Power Corp. (SCPC) is expected to produce poor performance. SCPC is the owner of the Calaca coal-fired power plant in Batangas, which it bought from the government in 2009 for $362 million. In the same location, SLPGC operates a 2x150-MW coal power plant. “For this year, we expect uneven results from our power subsidiaries. SLPGC is set to stage a strong profit recovery because of higher plant availability and better spot market prices. Unfortunately, SCPC is likely to deliver disappointing results because of the forced outage of its Unit 2 beginning Dec. 3 last year,” Gotianun said. SCPC's outage was triggered by a seven-month-old generator stator failing. Repairs are currently being negotiated with generator provider GE, according to Gotianun. “While they have agreed to cover the majority of the costs related to fixing the equipment, we are intent on making them shoulder all the necessary expenses. We expect to complete our negotiations within the year,” she said. “In the meantime, we are doing our best to fast track the repair of the generator. If all goes well, Unit 2 can be up and running by the third quarter of this year,” Gotianun said. This year, SMPC will invest P4 billion to rebound from last year's slump. The overall sum will be divided between SCPC and SLPGC for their prevention and repair services, with P2.9 billion going to buy mining and service equipment for the coal industry. Since the COVID-19 pandemic placed a burden on the company's liquidity last year, the management agreed to delay P3.7 billion of CAPEX to this year as part of its cash saving steps.


Philippine Resources - May 07, 2021

Australian Mining Firms Show Interest in the Philippines

According to Australia's Ambassador to the Philippines, Steven Robinson, several Australian mining firms have shown interest in mining in the Philippines, and the recent lifting of a nine-year ban on new mining ventures has paved the way for the possibility of responsible and world-class mining. Robinson said that mining if conducted safely and in accordance with international standards, could help the Philippines recover from the effects of the pandemic's economic impact. “The miners that we already have here—Orica [Philippines], OceanaGold, Red 5 [group], a number of them—are already thinking about what the future holds for them as a result of that ban being lifted,” he said in a virtual briefing on Monday. “They have started to reach out to us just in recent times to express interest in mining across the Philippines. I think that is a very positive step for the Philippines and good for Australian miners here,” he added, when asked to comment on the lifting of the ban. Malacanang recently released Executive Order No. 130, effectively lifting the nine-year ban on new mining deals. The order reversed a clause of then-President Benigno Aquino III's Executive Order No. 79, which was issued in 2012. The EO included a clause prohibiting the issuance of new mining licenses or mining output sharing arrangements unless a new revenue-sharing scheme was established. President Rodrigo Duterte said that the mining tax scheme included in the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act had already met the EO's requirements. The TRAIN Act increased the excise on minerals, mining goods, and quarry services from 2% to 4%, lowering personal income taxes while increasing consumption taxes. Duterte previously stated that the country had only used about 5% of its natural wealth. According to the Australian ambassador, this demonstrated that there was something that could be achieved in the world to assist in its economic recovery. “The Philippines is a natural resource-rich country, and there’s much that could be done here that will really benefit the Philippines’ recovery, and Australian firms know that,” Robinson said. 


Philippine Resources - May 07, 2021

AC Energy Focuses on 12GW of Renewable Energy Projects

AC Energy (ACEN) is operating on approximately 12 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy (RE) projects, more than double its goal of five GW for 2025, as it strives to become Southeast Asia's largest listed RE network. At COL Financial's briefing, ACEN President and CEO Eric Francia said the 12GW of projects placed the Ayala-led company in a fantastic position to achieve its long-term goals. Solar and wind platforms will make up the majority of the projects it plans to begin in 2021. With 5,200 megawatts (MW), Australia leads the way, followed by the Philippines with 3,400MW, Vietnam with 2,400MW, and India and other Asia-Pacific countries with 900MW. 1,000MW of the 12GW projects in the pipeline are expected to reach financial close in the next six to twelve months, bringing the company more than halfway to its target. By the end of the year, ACEN hopes to obtain regulatory clearance for the influx of foreign funds. The Ayala Group's power arm is maintaining a follow-on offering (FOO) until Friday, with shares priced at Php6.50 per share. “We are grateful for the continued support of our regulators and for the overwhelming response we received from the institutional investors during the book-building process. The exceptional investor support reinforces AC Energy’s position as the region’s leading renewables platform,” Francia said in a statement disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange. The FOO is part of a five-step effort by the company to generate Php30 billion for clean energy programs this year. “The FOO completes the company’s successful fundraising efforts this year and allows it to play a meaningful role in the green-led recovery,” Francia added.

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