Philcement Corp. starts Mariveles operations

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Phinma Corp.’s cement subsidiary has started to operate its plant and port facilities in Mariveles, Bataan to support the group’s comeback in the cement business.

Speaking at the inauguration of the facility, Phinma president and chief executive officer (CEO) Ramon del Rosario Jr. said Philcement Corp.’s facility in Bataan is the first of its kind in the country and possibly the largest independent cement terminal in the world. 

With an initial annual capacity of two million tons, the facility has highly automated equipment and would allow Philcement to serve the country’s growing demand for cement. 

“Cement is key to infrastructure. More importantly, a reliable supply of quality cement is one of our reasons for returning to cement. We believe in this government’s Build Build Build program and we want to help ensure the success of this program by augmenting supply and offering the highest quality so that the critical projects will see many years of service and support for the longer term Philippine Development Plan and the Ambisyon Natin 2040,” Del Rosario said. 

Phinma had a strong presence in the cement industry in the mid-90s, operating six cement plants in the country with a market share of more than 50 percent. 

The impact of the Asian financial crisis however, prompted the group to exit the cement industry and diversify its portfolio to other sectors. 

In 2018, Phinma returned to the cement business by bringing back the Union Cement brand to the market. 

Philcement president and CEO Eduardo Sahagun said the group has invested around $100 million for the return to the cement business including the Bataan facility. 

With the return in the cement business, he said the company is aiming to capture around 12 percent of the market. 

While Philcement would be repackaging cement imported from Vietnam in the Bataan facility initially, he said the company expects to be able to start its own processing capability by May or June. 

Del Rosario said Philcement also expects to benefit from the Bataan facility in terms of transporting cement from the source to its markets at the most efficient ways and costs possible in large quantities.

Even as there are opportunities for Philcement amid infrastructure projects being implemented in the country, the firm also faces challenges including the safeguard duty imposed on cement imports ordered by the Department of Trade and Industry last year.

The country’s group of importers has filed an appeal on the safeguard measure and the company is waiting for the Court of Appeals’ decision. 

“Right now, we’re being charged with the safeguard duty but if the Court of Appeals would rule in our favor, that will be returned to us,” Sahagun said.

Apart from cement, Phinma has investments in education, property development and hospitality.         

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