The Jakarta Post
State-owned coal miner Bukit Asam plans to allocate US$500 million in capital expenditure and issue global bonds worth up to $2.5 billion in 2017 following its plan to develop power plants with a total capacity of 5,000 megawatts (MW) in the near future.
Struggling with nosediving coal prices over the past years, the company has found a lifeline from the electricity sector, taking opportunities from the government’s ambitious 35,000 MW electricity procurement program, which will run until 2019.
At present, Bukit Asam is operating three power plants in South Sumatra with a total capacity of 266 MW. It also has several other power plant projects in the pipeline, where combined will generate a total capacity of around 5,000 MW.
Those projects include the Bangko Tengah (Sumsel 8) facility in South Sumatra with a capacity of 2 x 620 MW, the Peranap facility in Riau with a 1,200 MW capacity, and a joint power plant project with state-owned aluminum producer Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum) that is designed to produce 2 x 350 MW in electricity in Kuala Tanjung, North Sumatra.
“If we want to complete those projects on schedule, we will need an equity boost,” Bukit Asam finance director Achmad Sudarto said last Thursday.
“So, next year  we might issue global bonds with an estimated value of $2.5 billion. We also plan to allocate $500 million in capital expenditure [for the projects].”
(Read also: A false dawn for coal)
The allocated capital expenditure for this year will mark a significant annual jump of 82.6 percent compared to the Rp 3.68 trillion ($273.8 million) allocated for 2016.
In line with those power plant development projects, Achmad, who also serves as Bukit Asam acting president director, said the company aimed to increase its coal production by 20 percent to 30 million tons in 2017 following a recent surge in global coal prices.
A surprise change in Chinese government policy has led the country to lower its domestic production, which has encouraged a fuel price rise. Therefore, coal exports to China have also surged, boosting global coal prices to more than $100 per ton in October, before stabilizing at around $85 per ton recently.
Contacted separately, Recapital Securities analyst Kiswoyo Adi Joe praised Bukit Asam’s decision to penetrate deeper into power plant sector, as the company could guarantee the coal supply for the facilities in the long term.
“It’s going to be difficult for them to rely only on the coal sales per se, especially considering the high volatility of the commodity,” Kiswoyo said.
Bukit Asam owns almost 8 billion tons of coal deposits, around 40 percent of which are mineable.
Kiswoyo said the company had also made the right move by expanding its power plant business to neighboring countries in the back of high demand for electricity in the region.
Bukit Asam is currently in the middle of negotiations with the government of Myanmar to build a 2 x 100 MW power plant in the country. The construction of the facility is expected to start in 2018 with an investment value of between $200 million and $340 million.
“We don’t need to own a majority stake in the project, but we believe we can supply the power plant’s entire coal demand,” Achmad said.
“It’s going to be difficult for them to rely only on the coal sales per se, especially considering the high volatility of the commodity”
This article first appeared in our print edition. The first paragraph has been corrected by changing the phrase 'this year' with '2017' - Editor
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