Philippines’ top coal producer set to make second shipment to Japan

June 1, 2023 - 1:19 PM
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A picture of a coal plant as uploaded by the Semirara Mining and Power Corporation on its Facebook page on Aug. 11, 2022 (SMPCEmpoweringOthers/Facebook)

MANILA — Top Philippine coal producer Semirara Mining and Power Corp. said on Thursday it will ship 50,000 tonnes of coal to Japan’s Shikoku Electric Power Co Inc., as it diversifies its export markets and cuts reliance on China.

Semirara’s second trial shipment to Japan for Shikoku’s 700-megawatt power station follows its sale of 78,410 tonnes of mid-grade coal to J-Power in January, it said in a statement.

“China is still our main foreign buyer but with their industrial output growing slower than expected, we want to develop other Asian markets like Japan,” Semirara president Maria Cristina Gotianun said.

Semirara’s volume of coal shipments to China plunged 50% to 1.1 million tonnes in the first quarter versus in the same period last year, though it accounted for 72% of the company’s total exports for the period.

The company accounts for 99% of the Philippines’ coal output and last year expanded its export markets to include buyers from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and South Korea.

It describes South Korea as a “steady market” with first-quarter shipments of 300,000 tonnes, or a fifth of export sales.

Semirara is targeting full-year sales of 15 million to 16 million tonnes, compared with 2022 sales of 14.8 million tonnes. Most of its coal output is used to fuel domestic power plants, including company-owned facilities.

The Philippines has of late been pushing for a shift away from coal and oil in power generation, in line with its decarbonization goal. It has banned new coal-based power projects while encouraging investments in natural gas and renewables.

Semirara, however, remains optimistic about prospects for domestic coal usage, citing the country’s long-term economic growth trajectory and the limited baseload power capacity entering the local market in the next few years.

— Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor