Dutch gov’t backs SMC, Boskalis in P740 billion Bulacan Airport project
by Philippine Resources - May 26, 2022
Photo credit: Palafox
Dutch gov’t backs SMC, Boskalis in P740 billion Bulacan Airport project
San Miguel Corporation (SMC) received its strongest support yet for its game-changing P740-billion New Manila International Airport (NMIA) project in Bulacan following the approval of the Dutch government of an export credit insurance (ECI) for the project’s land development phase.
The approval comes after over a year of rigorous review of the project’s long-term environmental and social impact mitigation measures to ensure that the multi-billion project is done with sustainability in mind and aligned with the country’s climate ambitions.
The Dutch government, represented by Atradius Dutch State Business (DSB), extended the ECI to Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V., to cover its EUR 1.5 billion contract for land development works at the airport project site in Bulakan, Bulacan.
The NMIA project is the largest in Boskalis’ over 100-year history, and is also the largest export credit agency (ECA) insurance policy granted in the 90-year history of Atradius.
SMC President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang thanked the Dutch government for its support to NMIA, a project seen to catalyze sustainable economic growth for the Philippines, especially post-pandemic. It is seen to deliver over a million jobs to Filipinos.
“This is a significant milestone not only for San Miguel and the NMIA project, but for the entire country. With this, we are closer to our dream of having a world-class, future-ready, and sustainably-built international gateway, proudly built by Filipinos for the Philippines. This also validates our work with Boskalis to ensure that this project is done right, and will provide long-term economic, environmental, and social benefits to our host communities and Bulacan province,” Ang said.
In a statement posted on Boskalis’ international website, its CEO Peter Berdowski, said: “I am very pleased that all the hard work with a large team of experts has been successfully completed (today). For more than a year, we have worked intensively with Atradius DSB to ensure that the construction of the new airport will take place in a socially responsible manner.”
He added: “In collaboration with Atradius DSB, the Dutch embassy, we succeeded in developing a broadly supported plan with an eye for the local community and the preservation of biodiversity. I would like to thank all those involved for their contribution to the positive decision of the State.”
In the same statement, Atradius DSB Managing Director Bert Bruning said: “This project is unique on so many levels. Firstly, of course, as a very important contract for our client Boskalis, but also for us, as the largest ECA policy in our 90-year history,” he said.
“In addition, I am proud of the fact that together with Boskalis and San Miguel, by keeping up the dialogue, we were able to ensure that the project is to meet international standards in the field of environmental and social conditions. In doing so, we have not only contributed to making this wonderful contract possible built also really made a difference together for the local communities and nature.”
As part of the ECI process, a large group of experts from San Miguel, together with Boskalis and four renowned consultancy firms, conducted an extensive environmental and social impact assessment in accordance with the highest international standards.
This process also included the conduct of impact analyses and compensation packages for adverse effects of the project.
“This shows that the airport project and our environmental and social mitigation plans are not only sound, but robust and strong, given they can pass not only international standards but the exacting requirements of the Dutch government. It is another testament to the ability of Filipinos to be world-class,” Ang said.
“We will continue to work with Atradius, the banks, experts, national and local government, and all stakeholders to ensure we will build this project in a sustainable manner and in compliance with the highest international environment and social standards,” Ang reaffirmed. added.
The airport project will feature four parallel runways, a world-class terminal, and a modern and interlinked infrastructure network that includes expressways and railways.
Article courtesy of San Miguel Corp
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Philippine Resources - June 09, 2021
Terminal 2 of Clark International Airport to Open in July
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade led a recent inspection of the New Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) of Clark International Airport (CRK) in Pampanga. The inspection conducted is part of the preparation for the upcoming opening of the new CRK Terminal. With Luzon International Premiere Airport Development (FLIPAD) Corporation President Bi Yong Chungunco, personally circulated by Sec. Tugade inside the new terminal to see construction progress. Secretary Tugade is also with DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan, to discuss the layout of the map route alignment for the North-South Commuter Railway Extension (NSCREx) project that will connect to CRK underground station. On July 2021, the new airport terminal for domestic operations is set to be launched, which will be followed by the opening of international operations in September 2021. It's estimated that it will be up to 12.2 million passengers who can service the new terminal will be open and full scale operations, triple the number compared to the current 4.2 million passengers it serves every year (before the pandemic). This project will help a lot in the long term economic growth of the country, tourism growth, especially in providing employment and other opportunities for our countrymen. In fact, more than 1,600 workers have also been given the opportunity to be part of the project in the midst of the pandemic and it is expected that the number of jobs will be increased by the time the new terminal of Clark International Airport project is finished. "You wait and see a real 'world class' terminal. It's coming up, it's coming up in Clark. Thanks to LIPAD, the men and women of Clark International Airport are really very good," galak na pahayag ni Secretary Tugade. DOTr Assistant Secretary for Aviation and Airports Jim Melo, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Chief of Staff and Airport Projects Team Head Atty. Danjun Lucas, and other representatives from FLIPAD Corp. Article Courtesy of the Department of Transport
Philippine Resources - September 02, 2021
Palafox to make Bulacan airport and aerocity the pacesetter for green, inclusive cities in the country
San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) airport and aerocity project in Bulakan, Bulacan will be a pacesetter for green cities that are both sustainable and equitable, one that aims to address social and environmental concerns that affect even the country’s major financial districts today. This, according to the country’s top urban planner and green architect Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr. who outlined some of the major features that he and SMC president Ramon S. Ang envision for the much-anticipated development in Bulacan. Palafox Associates has been tapped by SMC to help masterplan its airport plus city concept or “aerocity” development--where its massive, P740-billion airport project, the New Manila International Airport will be located. Comparing the Bulacan project to environment-enhancing developments in Dubai and other parts of the world, Palafox said the development will integrate the best practices in green, sustainable, and disaster-resilient architecture that he has advocated and implemented in some 1,700 projects in about 45 countries worldwide. Palafox said the new development will take advantage of SMC president Ramon S. Ang’s forward-thinking and bias for taking action to undertake projects without cost to the government. “I’m aligned with the mission, vision and goal of Ramon Ang. He invited me to partner with him in this new undertaking: a green aerotropolis. At Palafox, we’ve analyzed that we need at least 100 new cities all over the Philippinex by 2050. If we don’t do it, our cities will become as bad, if not worse than Metro Manila. We envision the Bulacan Aerocity development as the first model and pacesetter for future green and sustainable cities in the country” Palafox said. (L-R) Urban planner and Architect Felino “Jun” A. Palafox, Jr., Mr Joey Nelson R. Ayson (President, Philippine Mining and Exploration Association), Marcelle P. Villegas (Journalist, Philippine Resources Journal) For his part, SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said that the project will be a legacy project, not just of him and Palafox, but of the present generation to future generations of Filipinos. “I want to emphasize to our countrymen that what we are building is more than just an international gateway with four runways, with an infrastructure network to connect it directly to Metro Manila and many other points in Luzon. The airport is just one component-- what we’re building is the Philippines’ first truly green city of the future,” Ang said. “We see this project as a silver lining amid all the difficulties we face today because of the pandemic. All Filipinos are looking forward to a future where COVID-19 is less of a threat to our lives and our economy. We want to see the positive developments that lie ahead for our country. I believe this is one of the best things we can look forward to with much hope and optimism,” he added. Ang also touted the significant economic impact the project will have on the country and the Filipino people. “Airport cities around the world generate a significant amount of jobs, and that is ultimately what we want to do. We need jobs and opportunities for our countrymen today, but more importantly, for the next generation in the coming years, especially since we are trying to recover from a pandemic,” Ang said. He added that “The jobs we will generate will not be limited to the airport city, or Bulacan province alone, but will extend to neighboring provinces, the rest of Luzon, and many other parts of the country which will benefit from increased tourism, increased investments because of better accessibility.” Ang also said that he and Palafox have agreed to integrate best practices in green architecture, green urbanism, and green urban planning to the Aerocity development, and avoid the mistakes that have contributed to the present-day problems of the country’s biggest cities today. Metro Manila: What went wrong Palafox pointed out a number of contributing factors that have made life difficult for many people working in today’s primary business districts, which the Aerocity project will aim to address. “The mistake in Makati’s central business district, Bonifacio Global City, and Ortigas is exclusionary or discriminatory zoning--excluding the employees from their places of work. Employees are like OFWs in their own countries, because they are five to six hours away from their places of work and families, because of traffic congestion,” Palafox said. “Before, real estate criterion was always location, location, location. Now, it’s more than location; it’s accessibility, accessibility, accessibility, and mobility, mobility, mobility. That is why the infrastructure that both government and private sector companies like SMC are doing now, are very welcome, as they alleviate the traffic that many people have no choice but to endure,” Palafox added. Palafox related that in 1990, Makati reclassified and increased the density of the Makati CBD by four times. However, access capacity and mobility was not similarly increased four times. Adding to the problem is the fact that the CBD is constricted by gated, low-density neighborhoods, villages, and a gated cemetery--making it more difficult for most people to walk to work. “Elsewhere in the world, NYC, European cities, Singapore, are ‘walkable’ because within 250-750 meters, there is a walking facility. Around Makati City, BGC, and Ortigas, you’re surrounded by gated communities, so you have to walk about one to two kilometers to go around. Our planning in the Philippines had the wrong model: Los Angeles, which was designed for automobiles,” he explained. He also cited the prevailing influence of Spanish rule as a constraint. “I’m talking about the colonial town plaza concept, where the elite or illustrados lived around the town plaza where the church, munisipyo and central park are. Meanwhile, the peasants or indios and Chinese merchants lived in extramuros, or outside. That was 500 years ago, but it’s still a concept in our urban planning development today,” he explained. Enhancing the environment Meanwhile, for Ang, apart from generating jobs, one of the most important considerations for the project is improving the environment--not just within and around the airport project, but throughout Bulacan province. “From the very beginning, I promised Bulakenyos and all our stakeholders in government that the airport project and the aerocity development will have significant benefits for the province and the whole country. We will make sure to do everything right, because this is our biggest investment to date, and our legacy to the next generations,” Ang said. “Specifically, we will clean up the environment, clear the river systems to enable water to flow freely again and address flooding; we will establish mangrove forests, with some 190,000 mangroves all over Bulacan and neighboring provinces to enhance biodiversity and help mitigate tidal flooding. We’re also looking to develop and enhance natural habitats of marine and bird species. There’s so much more we can do,” he added. For the development itself, Ang said he and Palafox look to integrate the following concepts: Adopt green architectural and green urbanism guidelines over and above the country’s building and zoning codes, which Palafox said no longer follows international standards. Follow the structural codes of other countries, specifically those situated in similar earthquake zones as the Philippines. Creation of an “innovation hub” where both learning institutions and technology-driven global companies can thrive. As such, Palafox has put forth a “town and gown” or university town concept, where learning institutions and the community partner together, such as in Cambridge and Boston in the United States, where Harvard University is. SMC is also looking to put up a medical and research facility along with the school. The aerocity project will be equipped with the latest in digital infrastructure, to enable people to work and conduct business anywhere. The development will also have lots of open spaces, as these are the “lungs” of a city. Palafox cited that Metro Manila went from green to gridlock because many parks and open spaces were reclassified into sellable and buildable properties. As the population grew, the parks and open spaces started disappearing. Meanwhile, the aim for the Bulacan development is to allot highest and best use for the improvement of the environment, and to address climate change. These will be included in his proposed guidelines for green architecture and green urban planning. Ultimately, the plan is to positively impact the whole of Bulakan, Bulacan so that in the end, Bulacan will not just be a province with an airport, but an airport-driven province. In master-planning the development, “ridge to reef” planning will also be employed, taking into consideration the improvement of mountain ridges or highlands, midlands, the lowlands, and the coastline. Public transport will also be easily accessible. One of the things being considered is a bicycle highway connected to the train system. Palafox said the city will be a “healthy city”. It will be “walkable and attractive”. It will have less need for security because it will be open and there won’t be too many walls around the city, which Palafox sees as encouraging crime, and contributing to the heat index, as they obstruct cross ventilation in cities. Meanwhile, the coastal area or Manila Bay waterfront will also be utilized for walkways, waterfront promenades. Finally, Palafox and Ang said they will prioritize the triple bottomline: people first for social equity, alleviating poverty, and job creation or inclusivity. Then planet and the environment come next, with prosperity, economic growth, and profit following. Article Courtesy of San Miguel Corporation
Philippine Resources - September 24, 2021
DOTr eyes GenSan airport as alternate int'l gateway
Photo credit: Department of Transportation The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is pushing for the inclusion of the newly rehabilitated and expanded airport here as among the alternate gateways for returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and international travelers. DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade proposed the move on Thursday as he personally led the formal unveiling and inauguration of the city airport’s new passenger terminal building and other completed facilities. He said the city’s international standard airport can accommodate airline passengers coming in from as far as the Middle East. Tugade said it can be realized once the proposed increase in the daily cap for returning OFWs, currently at 2,000 for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), is approved. Once the cap is expanded, he said NAIA might “choke” with the influx of airline passengers from various countries. “If we will increase the cap, we need to expand our gateways and not limit them to Clark, Cebu, and NAIA. We can include GenSan among the gateways for travelers from Doha who are going to Manila,” he said in a press conference. He said they will propose such strategy with the airlines serving the international routes, including the Philippine Airlines, and seek the approval of the city government. The other possible alternate gateways could be the Laoag International Airport in Ilocos Norte and the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Tugade said. The rehabilitated and expanded General Santos Airport passenger terminal building, which was completed early this month, is part of the PHP959-million upgrade implemented by the national government. The other completed components are the procurement and installation of navigational aids and the construction of the new Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) administration building at the airport. Under the project, Tugade said the passenger terminal area has tripled in size from 4,000 to 12,000 square meters. “This will allow the airport to accommodate more passengers and provide them comfortable and convenient travel,” he said in his speech. A DOTr report said the larger passenger terminal building can now accommodate around 2 million passengers annually, a significant jump from the previous 800,000 per year. Tugade said the improvement at the city airport will continue next year with the upgrading of its air control tower, which he considered as “too low.” He said they will build a “higher and modernized” tower in 2022 to make it “more world-class” and can easily adjust to the needs of the airport. The official said the upgrading of the airport, which started in 2018, is among the agency and the national government’s top priorities in Mindanao. He said the initiative is part of the government’s efforts to bring more progress and economic opportunities in Mindanao, which “suffered from long years of neglect in terms of development.” Tugade said they endeavored to implement these projects despite the challenges posed by the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic to pursue their goal of giving a “comfortable and convenient life” to Filipinos. “After the pandemic, we want all these developments in place and ready to benefit the people,” he said. In a video message, President Rodrigo Duterte commended the DOTr, the local government, and concerned stakeholders for completing the projects at the city airport amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He said the city has “gone a long way” in terms of the development of its air connectivity and airport facilities. “The rehabilitation and expansion of the airport passenger terminal building, among others, will truly boost General Santos City’s role as an agro-industrial and eco-tourism hub,” the President said. City Mayor Ronnel Rivera lauded the national government for helping the city realize its dream of having an international-standard airport. Aside from the expanded passenger terminal building, the airport is now capable of accommodating bigger aircraft like Boeing 737 and 747, as well as Airbus A330, A340, and A350. “(What) we are seeing now is a result of multisectoral commitment and dedication in various stages of the airport development, which includes coordination of several initiatives, preparation of the airport master plan, operations, and marketing,” he said. The mayor said the local government will continue to engage with prospective investors and airlines for the opening of more flights to and from the airport and the development of adjacent areas. He cited the proposed establishment of an aerotropolis or growth area centered on the city airport and its surrounding areas. “We are opening a wide array of opportunities, not only on the improvement of our infrastructure facilities but also in terms of investments that will generate more economic opportunities for the city and the entire region (Soccsksargen),” he said. Aside from the inauguration of the airport projects, Tugade also led the unveiling of completed initiatives at the Makar port here. The DOTr said it includes the construction of the Port Operations Building and other vital facilities, which includes a parking area, covered court, port manager’s quarter or Day Care Center, and drainage system. “The improved port of Makar will now offer safer, comfortable, and a more convenient port experience to passengers, while ensuring a faster turnaround for vessels, cargo trucks, and other ancillary service providers,” it said. Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
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Philippine Resources - July 01, 2022
Sampulna cites need for more mineral processing plants to boost PH production
Photo credit: DENR - Mr. Jim O. Sampulna Former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna pushed for the establishment of more mineral processing plants and utilization of rare earth deposits to help increase the country’s mineral production and revenue generation. “Mineral processing plants make the mined mineral ready to use for application. For example, limestone, if processed, will become cement, which is ready to use for construction,” Sampulna cited. “If we have more of these plants and more minerals will be processed in the country, then its value will increase even more than 100 percent, and lesser raw materials will be shipped out to other countries, like Japan or China,” he said. The DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau has so far issued 108 mineral processing permits, most of which are for construction materials. Likewise, Sampulna proposed the identification of rare earth elements (REEs), such as scandium and yttrium, in operating mines. Sampulna, who was the former DENR undersecretary for mining, said that these metals are essential parts for many high-technology devices. “The Philippines is conducive to these minerals. It could contribute to the national government through the identification and utilization of these commodities. To date, there are only a few operating mines which have identified REEs,” he said. Sampulna cited that a proposed iron mineral processing plant in Zamboanga had its groundbreaking ceremony on June 18, to support the DENR’s initiatives toward self-utilization of mineral commodities in the country. “We hope that investors will push for the opening of more processing plants in the Philippines,” he said. He also assured Filipinos that the DENR will continue to strengthen its regulation and monitoring of mining operations to ensure sustainable and responsible mineral production in the country. Article courtesy of Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Philippine Resources - June 29, 2022
DENR Awards MGB with Plaque of Appreciation for the Success of the Boracay Island Rehabilitation
Photo: The MGB Boracay Island Rehabilitation Team together with former DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu Four years after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spearheaded the rehabilitation of the Boracay Island, the DENR Acting Secretary and Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) Chair Jim O. Sampulna CESO I awarded the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) a Plaque of Appreciation for its valuable contribution to the success of the Boracay Island Rehabilitation during the BIATF’s culminating event on June 16, 2022. Boracay Island is one of the most developed and densely populated karstic islands in the Philippines. The extensive alteration of its natural landscape, as well as the alleged discharge of wastewater into the sea, posed a major environmental concern, prompting its temporary closure on April 26, 2018. The BIATF then launched the rehabilitation of Boracay island to safeguard its sustainable development. As part of the BIATF, the MGB team, led by Lands Geological Survey Division (LGSD) Chief Liza Socorro J. Manzano, was composed of technical personnel from the LGSD of MGB Central Office and the Geosciences Division of MGB Regional Office No. VI. The team conducted studies on hydrogeology, coastal geohazards, karst subsidence hazard, and geophysical investigations using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and georesistivity. The highly specialized studies sought to provide a holistic understanding of the island’s karstology and the impacts of tourism development to ensure that the rehabilitation efforts of the government are predicated on the ecological sustainability of the small island karst. Ultimately, the results of the GPR investigation on pipes discreetly disposing wastewater and polluting the seawater of Boracay which resulted in the discovery of their existence and eventual dismantling of the same is a "game-changer" relative to the implementation of science-based strategies and crafting of policies for appropriate wastewater and solid waste management in the island. Article courtesy of the MGB
Philippine Resources - June 28, 2022
The Fault with Cobalt: Overcoming the Challenges of Battery Metal Exploration
upply Co., Inc. Cobalt is an important element used to manufacture rechargeable batteries. Cobalt has unique properties that help improve thermal stability, which is critical for the batteries to function properly. It also helps improve some batteries’ energy density, so they can last longer. The demand for cobalt is high, so geologists need fast, accurate tools to help them meet these requirements. Portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) analyzers are one of these tools, as they provide on-the-spot material chemistry results. Why Choose Portable XRF for Cobalt Exploration? Portable XRF provides rapid, in situ, multielement geochemistry for immediate results in the field. This is useful for greenfield and brownfield exploration, ore grade and process control, environmental monitoring and remediation, and researching/teaching within the geological/environmental sciences. For battery metal exploration, portable XRF provides decision-quality data faster than traditional, lab-based XRF, and also enables more discriminatory laboratory sampling, helping reduce costs and improve ROI. With sample preparation, pXRF produces high-quality quantitative data that is comparable to laboratory analysis. Challenges with Analyzing Cobalt XRF is prone to inter-element interferences. Iron (Fe) on cobalt (Co) and nickel (Ni) on cobalt (Co) are two common examples. This means that when a lot of iron is present, it becomes difficult for XRF to identify cobalt at low levels. Likewise, the presence of nickel also makes it difficult for XRF to ID cobalt. Unfortunately, cobalt is routinely explored for in the presence of significant amounts of iron and nickel. To solve this challenge, we developed a GeoChem method for Vanta™ pXRF analyzers that offers improved analysis for battery metals exploration by being able to detect cobalt in the presence of iron and nickel. This innovative method overcomes the interference that has historically made it very difficult for portable XRF analyzers to detect cobalt in the presence of these other elements. The method we developed for the Vanta analyzer is built on the current GeoChem method, but with a more sophisticated way of deconvoluting the iron/cobalt/nickel peaks. Before deploying this solution, we tested it on client samples to make sure that it produced good results. Test Results We analyzed 16 samples with high iron content—9% < Fe < 50%, 50 ≤ Co ≤ 6000 ppm, Ni < 500 ppm. We also analyzed 50 samples with a moderate amount of iron—0.5% < Fe < 15%, 16 < Ni < 8000 ppm, 50 ppm < Co < 2.3%. The samples were pulps in XRF cups, and they were analyzed using 60 seconds per beam with no corrections. The graphs below show excellent agreement between the results obtained from a lab and results obtained using a Vanta portable XRF analyzer, indicating that the modified GeoChem method can accurately detect the presence of cobalt when it’s in the presence of both large and moderate amounts of the interfering elements iron and nickel. Geologists now have another important tool that they can rely on when exploring for new sources of this vital element.
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