Nickel Asia ventures into renewable energy

boardroom_02MANILA, Philippines – Listed miner Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC) is exercising its option to convert a loan extended to Emerging Power Inc. (EPI) to a controlling stake in the firm as the mining firm moves to diversify to the renewable energy business.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, NAC said its board of directors approved the conversion of its one-year P446 million loan to equity in EPI.

The conversion of the loan corresponds to an initial 55 percent ownership in EPI.

NAC said the board has likewise approved an additional investment of P474 million, to be made in stages, to further raise its stake in EPI to 66 percent.

Jose Bayani Baylon, head of corporate communications at NAC, said in a text message the move is in line with the company’s direction to diversify to the renewable energy business.

“We are going beyond mineral development which remains our principal focus,” he said.

The additional investments to be made in EPI would be used for drilling of additional wells and related production facilities within the geothermal field.

This, as the latest report from Iceland Geosurvey, EPI’s consultant for the Montelago geothermal project in Oriental Mindoro, showed an increase in the geothermal resource there to an estimated range of 28 to 30-megawatt (MW) of power over a 25-year period following the drilling of two slim wells.

The geothermal resource in the Montelago project, NAC said, could still expand with further drilling.

The Montelago project involves the development of a 40-MW geothermal power plant.

Aside from Montelago, EPI is working on other renewable energy projects such as a 10-MW solar project in Camarines Sur, a 2.5-MW biogas project in Quezon City, and a 10-MW solar and bunker hybrid project in Northern Palawan.

NAC, the country’s biggest producer of lateritic nickel ore, operates the following mines: Rio Tuba mine (near Palawan), Cagdianao mine (Dinagat Island), Taganaan mine (Hinatuan Island) and Taganito mine (Surigao del Norte).

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