AFTER a derailed timeline last year, the first quarter of 2020 is seen to usher a fresh start on the prospect of job generation for the people of Northern Mindanao with the entry of a giant steel mill from China.
Preparations are underway for the groundbreaking ceremony targeted to happen in March, this year.
With an investment of $4-billion, the Chinese steel company led by Huili Investment Fund is poised to build a 305-hectare integrated steel manufacturing plant at the Phividec Industrial Estate in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental Special Economic Zone.
The recent signing of a Memorandum Of Agreement (MOA) between Huili Investment Fund President Jun Hou, PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority Administrator Franklin Quijano, Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Bambi Emano, and Simple Homes President Robert Pizarro has ignited the start of the long-awaited steel plant project, perceived to the largest in Southeast Asia when completed.
The project, a 100 percent private undertaking, is a realization of President Duterte’s vision of reliving the integrated iron and steel industry in the country.
Eyed for completion in three years, the project is expected to generate 10,000 jobs, and the birth of about 40,000-50,000 jobs created by downstream industries.
The three-phase project, will consist of a port, an integrated steel mill with a capacity of 10 million tons, an industrial park, and other downstream industries.
And the integrity of our local officials is again tested here with the entry of a giant steel manufacturer from China.
Back in 2008, a Korean steel firm, Hanjin Heavy Industries, has started building up its $2 billion shipyard facility inside Phividec only to be told later to pack up, and indeed, they packed up without notice and sent home their earth-moving equipment with a heavy heart.
Mindanao’s dream to host the biggest shipbuilding facility never materialized.
Hanjin has to transfer its shipbuilding facility in Subic, Zambales. Unfortunately, the project has to close down early this year due to bankruptcy.
The Marcos-era National Steel Corporation (NSC) that made Iligan famous as the industrial city of the South is completely dead.
With several attempts of revival, the government-controlled corporation, marred by so many controversies, is hopelessly devoted to rust and junk shops nearby.
The existing infra facilities of Tagoloan and Villanueva towns like water, power, and the Phividec site had satisfied the Chinese investors for the planned steel plant.
The Chinese investment group is also eyeing to build a cement plant to maximize the use of industrial wastes produced by the steel plant.
If plan pushes through sans bureaucratic red tape, the plant could produce four million tons of ship hull and ocean engineering steel per year. (firstname.lastname@example.org)