MacroAsia turns to original mining business amid aviation slump
Taipan Lucio Tan’s MacroAsia Corp. is reviving its mining business, which it had considered selling years ago, amid the downturn in aviation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The provider of ground handling and aircraft maintenance for local and international carriers announced on Monday an agreement that would allow the operation of its nickel mine in Palawan, a source of ore shipments to Japan in the 1970s.
MacroAsia said in a stock exchange filing that wholly owned subsidiary MacroAsia Mining Corp. (MMC) signed a memorandum of agreement with Calmia Nickel Inc. for its project in Brooke’s Point, Palawan.
“Once signed, Calmia shall be allowed to explore and operate the mining tenement of MMC in Brooke’s Point, Palawan,” MacroAsia said.
MacroAsia holds two mineral production sharing agreements there. One is the Infanta Nickel project covering a total area of 1,114 hectares, of which 536 ha had been explored.
MacroAsia, formerly known as Infanta Mineral and Industrial Corp. when it was established in 1970, announced its intention to exit the sector in 2017 to focus on its aviation businesses.
The sale never pushed through and interest in the sector eventually returned following the pandemic-induced collapse of air travel demand and the Philippine government’s turnaround on mining.
Last April, President Duterte lifted the moratorium on new mining agreements, which was imposed by his predecessor, the late President Benigno Aquino III, in 2012.
MacroAsia’s mining properties are legacy assets of the original company.
In its 2020 annual report, the company said it had received “various development offers for the Infanta Nickel Mine.”
“[MacroAsia] is currently studying the commercial offers, without [MacroAsia] allocating funds for any further investment in this area,” it said.
Apart from mining, the firm said it would continue to expand other businesses outside aviation.
These included three operating water companies in Boracay, Cavite and Nueva Vizcaya and the establishment of radio trunking services, considered a more efficient and secure means of communication compared to conventional radio systems.
This followed a difficult year after MacroAsia recorded a P1.8-billion net loss in 2020, which reversed a P1.1-billion profit in 2019. Revenues last year fell 63 percent to P2.25 billion, with the largest decline coming from in-flight catering and ground handling.
MacroAsia implemented a combination of cost-cutting and cash conservation measures, including an “aggressive rightsizing program” that involved slashing its workforce by 44 percent in 2020.
MacroAsia and partner China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. faced another setback after their award to develop the first phase of the P500-billion Sangley Point International Airport was terminated by the Cavite government last January. INQ
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