Semirara shelves cement venture amid pandemic uncertainties

Bruce Rodriguez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 03 2021 06:30 PM

MANILA - The DMCI group's Semirara Mining and Power Corporation (SMPC) said it shelving its plan to put up a cement plant on Semirara island as the company struggles with the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the company's virtual annual stockholders meeting, SMPC chairman Isidro Consunji said the company was badly hit by the pandemic.

"There is no sugar coating 2020. It was a very bad year for our company," Consunji said.

He noted, SMPC's profitability dropped to its lowest level in ten years with its share price plunging 37 percent from a year ago, amid weaker demand for coal from China as well as a drop in power requirements due to quarantine restrictions.

Consequently, its stock with the ticker symbol 'SCC' was also dropped from the 30-member PSE index.

"For 2021, we expect some improvements on our bottom line as the coal and electricity markets recover from last year’s historic lows," Consunji explained. 

"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."

But he admitted that until the country reaches herd immunity, it was unlikely that the firm will return to pre-pandemic profit level this year.

SMPC president and chief operating officer Maria Cristina Gotianun said their plan to put up a cement plant in Semirara Island will have to be shelved for now.

As early as 2017, SMPC announced plans to establish a $300 million cement plant near its mining sites on Semirara Island.

"We will revisit when economic recovery from this pandemic will be certain," Gotianun said. 

In the meantime, it's planning to spend P4 billion in capital expenditures this year, primarily to acquire equipment for its coal-mining segment as well as fund maintenance programs for its operations.

"This year, we expect our coal business to perform better on the back of recovering consumption and prices," Gotianun noted.

SMPC is the largest producer of coal in the Philippines, with its ores primarily exported to China and sold to local electricity generators including its own coal-fired power plants.

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