By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 14, 2015 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines – Listed Nickel Asia Corp. has approved to guarantee the loan facilities of renewable energy firm Emerging Power Inc. (EPI) for up to P3 billion over a maximum period of three years.
Nickel Asia said the loan facility would be used by EPI to finance the purchase of up to 99.99 percent ownership in Jobin-SQM, Inc. (JSI) and a 60 percent stake in Biliran Geothermal Inc. (BGI).
Part of the loan proceeds would also be used for the development of the initial generating facilities for both projects.
JSI has 100-megawatt (MW) solar and 50-MW Wind Renewable Energy Service Contracts and a 50-year lease agreement with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority for 800 hectares within the Subic Bay Freeport Zone where the project will be located.
EPI has allotted $60 million for the acquisition of JSI and phase 1 of the project, which is for an initial generation of 25 MW of solar power to be available by the end of the first quarter of 2016.
BGI, on the other hand, has a geothermal Renewable Energy Service Contract covering 260 square kilometers in the province of Biliran. Resource studies indicated reserves of at least 100MW in the southern portion of the concession.
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Eight geothermal wells have been have so far been completed in this portion.
Separate studies for the northern portion of the concession indicate a potential for another 170MW of geothermal power.
Nickel Asia said the balance of the loan facility would be used to fund the initial portion of equity in BGI and the initial electrical turbines of up to 10MW capacity that would be operational by the third quarter of 2016.
Last year, Nickel Asia provided EPI with a P446 million loan to partly fund the drilling of two holes under the Montelago geothermal project in Mindoro Oriental. The drilling results confirmed an increase in the geothermal resource to a range of 28MW to 30MW of power over 25 years.
Given this development, Nickel Asia’s board approved the conversion of the loan to a 55-percent equity in EPI, allowing it to participate in other renewable power projects pipelined by the renewable energy firm. The board also approved an additional investment of P474 million in the Montelago project, which will increase Nickel Asia’s ownership in EPI to 66 percent.
“Following the completion of the JSI and BGI purchases and in combination with the ongoing Montelago project, EPI will have three renewable projects with the potential to produce 300MW of power within a three-year period,” Nickel Asia said.
In a separate disclosure, Nickel Asia said the value of nickel ore shipments fell 20 percent in the first half to P7.46 billion despite increased shipment volume due to lower ore prices.
The company’s four operating mines sold a total of 9.68 million wet metric tons (WMT) of nickel ore from January to June, up 25 percent from the 7.73 million WMT sold in the same period last year.