DMCI has over 1 billion tons of limestone reserve in Semirara Island property

DMCI Holding Inc., a firm known for its construction projects in the country, said it has 1 billion tons of limestone reserve on Semirara Island, enough to support its cement-manufacturing plant for the next 500 years.

DMCI Chairman and President Isidro Consunji said the limestone reserve is not an issue for them to operate its own cement plant, but it has to secure the necessary permits from government agencies, such as the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement, or MPSA, and it still has to inform the Department of Energy, its regulator, on its new venture.

Consunji said the company will spend more than $300 million (P14.889 billion) for the cement plant that has a capacity of 5,000 tons a day, or 2.4 million tons per year.

He said the distribution part of the business may be expensive since it will ship out the cement product out of Semirara Island in Antique, but its production cost will be cheaper.

“The most expensive part of cement-making is energy. What we plan is use the low-grade coal coming from Semirara mining to fuel the plant,” Consunji told reporters.

DMCI officials, however, said the critical area in its cement venture is the MPSA from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the agency under its former Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez that closed some of its mining operations in Zambales and Palawan.

DMCI will still have to talk to the new Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu for its MPSA.

It has no timetable, however, of when the government will issue the said MPSA, as the process will be stringent. There are also some studies that DMCI doesn’t need the permit since the limestone is above the coal or the miner has to remove first the limestone before it can get to the coal.

“We are studying the venture carefully as there are studies that three years from now, there may be an oversupply of cement. But we are still confident with the venture because of the cheap production cost. We can be competitive including versus imported products,” said Herbert Consunji, the company’s executive vice president and CFO.

According to its plan, DMCI will build a cement plant and possibly three separate grinding plants located in Batangas, Iloilo and Zamboanga, three areas that can cover the entire Philippine market.

The biggest spending will go to DMCI’s cement plant, which costs about $180 million. It will have a capacity of 2.3 million metric tons (MMT) to 2.4 MMT per year and a 400,000-metric ton capacity for the grinder. It will also put up a 30-MW to 40-MW thermal-power plant on Semirara Island costing about $80 million. The grinding plant in Calaca, Batangas, will cost $50 million and $35 million each for its plants in Zamboanga and Iloilo, according to DMCI’s earlier plans.

The entire project may take three and a half years to complete, though the company may start first with the power plant before it will build the cement manufacturing facilities, officials said.