Semirara Mining and Power Corp. plans to diversify into renewable energy and nickel, copper or gold mining as part of long-term business strategy.
“We have been instructed by the board to look for other opportunities, so we are looking at finding other assets—coal and non-coal,” SMPC chairman Isidro Consunji said in a recent webinar.
He said the company was looking at renewable energy, although it would be “way below the kind of margins we are used to.”
Consunji said SMPC studied commercially-viable and environment-friendly RE projects. “We looked at run-of-river before, and the area we found geologically acceptable are mostly in problematic peace and order areas and not connected to the grid. No nearby area met the capex [capital expenditures] area requirement, the ratio of revenue,” he said.
He said solar projects in off-grids areas should be profitable, “because they will displace diesel.”
Consunji said it was difficult finding other businesses, especially those that could deliver high margins. “Maybe nickel, copper or gold… We are used to high-margin business,” Consunji said, referring to coal mining and coal-power projects.
He said SMPC was committed to building the 700-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Calaca, Batangas under St. Raphael Power Generation Corp. once transmission issues were resolved. He said SRPGC was not covered by the moratorium on new coal-fired power plants.
“St. Rafael is not part of the ban…The issue of St. Raphael is not a contract with Meralco [Manila Electric Co.]. We are prepared to build it with or without an off-taker. The issue is it is not yet connected to the grid,” Consunji said.
He said the transmission line that would serve the power plant was “maxed out”, and the additional lines were not yet built.
“As soon as the grid connection is resolved, then we will build San Rafael, two by 350 because we already have indications from the banks to fund it,” Consunji said.
SMPC and partner Meralco PowerGen Corp. announced in 2020 the termination of their joint agreement for the construction of the 700-MW coal plant. SMPC reacquired all the equity shareholdings of Meralco PowerGen in SRPGC.
The Consunji Group owns SMPC, while Meralco PowerGen is the power generation arm of power retailer Manila Electric Co.
Meralco previously signed a power supply agreement with SRPGC to supply up to 400 megawatts of capacity.
The Supreme Court, however, ruled that energy companies should undergo a competitive selection process for the PSA.
The proposed power plant is the third phase of the planned expansion of the Calaca coal-fired facility in Batangas owned by SMPC.