By Ercel Maandig
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — The groundbreaking for the USD4-billion integrated steel mill to be established in Misamis Oriental will be set in March this year, the chief of the Phividec Industrial Administration (PIA) said Monday.
Lawyer Franklin Quijano said the groundbreaking will be spearheaded by the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Oro Chamber) under its new president, Robertino E. Pizarro.
Quijano called on all stakeholders in Mindanao to support the project, which will be located in the Tagoloan town side of the government-own industrial estate.
Pizarro described the steel mill as the country’s biggest single investment, expected to spur economic activity in Mindanao to “an unprecedented level”.
“Preparations for the groundbreaking event are now taking shape in coordination with various stakeholders and partners of the project,” he said.
This first Mindanao Integrated Steel Mill includes China’s three leading companies — Huili Fund, Baowu Steel Group Corporation Ltd (China Baowu), and China Metallurgical Group Corporation’s subsidiary, CISDI Group Co Ltd. (CISDI).
China Baowu, the new technical partner to operate the steel mill, currently ranks first in China and second in the world as the largest steel producer measured by crude steel output, he added.
China Baowu is poised to employ its state-of-art, green and intelligent technology in this steel project.
First to signify its support to the realization of this steel plant was Rolando Torres, executive director of the Mindanao Business Council (MinBC).
Torres said MinBC supports the Oro Chamber and all other business groups in Mindanao “to make things happen for this project to accelerate the economic development of Mindanao.”
On the other hand, former Secretary on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza has also expressed his backing for the steel plant, saying it will mean more progress in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, the Crusade for Clean Government (CCG), a volunteer watchdog against corruption in government, has urged Malacañang to monitor the mega project, which is seen to generate an initial 10,000 jobs.
CCG lead convenor Ruffy Magbanua sees the need to “establish safety nets to ward off corrupt local officials prying on the fat investments of the largest integrated steel mill ever to be built in Mindanao.” He did not elaborate.
“For transparency, CCG will work in alliance with the Oro Chamber and other well-meaning business organizations to see to it that corruption is completely out in all transactions. As the pet project of the President (Rodrigo Duterte) takes shape very soon, we will not allow the Hanjin experience to happen again in this biggest single investment in Mindanao,” Magbanua said.
During the time of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, it can be recalled that South Korean giant Hanjin transferred its shipbuilding facility in Subic, Zambales, from Phividec because of reported bickerings among local officials who had vested interests in the project.
Hanjin eventually declared bankruptcy early last year due to “serious financial trouble.” (PNA)