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Congresses & Conferences 33

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by October 12 2018 0

More than 1,540 in-person attendees this month at the 5th annual Medellin Bird Festival (Festival de las Aves Medellin 2018) October 3-6 got a bird’s-eye view of how companies, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) here are trying to find creative ways to balance environmental and economic conflicts.

The growing, annual Medellin Bird Festivals – increasingly covered by local, national and international media -- are organized by Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitologia (SAO) and co-sponsored by the city of Medellin, the Antioquia departmental government and more than 20 private companies and organizations, including the environmentally responsible miner Continental Gold, national electric-grid operator ISA, EAFIT University, Parque Explora, Area Metropolitana del Valle de Aburra and Medellin Herald.

Perhaps no better example of efforts to reconcile environmental and economic conflicts was revealed in a lecture here on a just-concluded, three-year project to study, document, save and relocate threatened birds (and other wildlife) displaced by the gigantic “Hidroituango” hydroelectric dam project in Antioquia.

That hydroelectric dam -- when finally completed around 2021 -- is expected to supply more than 17% of the entire electricity demand in Colombia, providing zero-emissions power to millions of people, homes, buildings -- and a future surge of environmentally friendly electric vehicles.

Hidroituango also is seen crucial to economic futures, as the city of Medellin taps locally based, multinational power giant EPM for an astonishing 25% of its entire annual budget funding.

The Hidroituango environmental studies also ultimately led to the publication of a new book, “Aves del Cañón del Río Cauca” (Birds of the Cauca River Canyon), unveiled here by University of Antioquia and sponsored by EPM, the company building the gigantic Hidroituango power dam.

Among the threatened bird species in the canyon – upstream of the hydroelectric dam -- is the spectacular (and rare) Military Macaw (Ara Militaris), individuals of which have been nesting in cliffside rock cavities soon to be inundated by the rising Cauca River.

As EPM and University of Antioquia researchers explained here, wildlife-rescue experts in recent months have helped to remove and relocate some 40 macaw chicks from various nests – along with capturing and relocating some 2,000 other threatened birds in the area.

EPM meanwhile bought an 800-hectare property in nearby Buritica dedicated for wild-bird relocations, and also built a specialized tree-nursery project in the town of Ituango, which will provide crucial plants to help restore lost habitats.

As EPM noted in a post-Festival press release, “the Cauca River canyon in Antioquia is a marvelous place that hosts a variety of environments including tropical dry forest and humid, pre-montane forests, which provide homes to many species, including more than 300 bird species.

“This [Aves del Cañón del Río Cauca] book, in addition to other environmental studies and projects undertaken in conjunction with the Hidroituango project, shows the responsibility that EPM assumes in social and environmental management,” the company added.

Medellin’s ‘Green Corridors’ Project

On a related front, Medellin’s Infrastructure Planning Secretary Silvia Gómez García explained here how the city has just transformed more than 30 heavily trafficked and building-congested areas into “green corridors” in recent months, in a COP$45 billion (US$14 million) project involving the planting of hundreds of trees, bushes and flowers.

Probably the most dramatic example of this is the conversion of the cement “pyramids” formerly bisecting the downtown Avenida Oriental corridor into a spectacular array of tropical flowers, trees and bushes, attracting butterflies and other wildlife, she noted.

Such projects not only improve wildlife habitat but also help to provide a heat sink to cement deserts that unfortunately have over-run Medellin – the “City of Eternal Spring” --over the past 50 years.

Assuming that future Mayors continue this “green corridor” initiative launched by current Mayor Federico Gutierrez, then it’s possible to envision future “green” connections between Medellin’s main green parks (Cerro Nutibara, Cerro El Volador, Parques del Rio, Parque Arvi) to the green mountains east and west of Medellin and adjacent cities in Valle de Aburra, Gomez noted.

Likewise, Medellin metro council of governments (Area Metropolitano del Valle de Aburra, AMVA) subdirector Maria del Pilar Restrepo noted in a presentation here that adjacent municipalities are taking similar steps to improve green spaces for birds and wildlife, including a regional project that is part-way toward the goal of planting and maintaining more than 1 million new trees.

Other outstanding presentations here included workshops on the “Merlin” cell-phone bird-identification application by Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology researchers Drew Weber and Karen Purcell; a progress update on Medellin’s outstanding “Alto de San Miguel” nature reserve in neighboring Caldas municipality; and an update on the just-launched, second-edition “Guia Fotografica de Las Aves del Valle de Aburra” (Photographic Guide to the Birds of the Aburra Valley) published by AMVA and Parque Arvi, in cooperation with Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitologia.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by September 27 2018 0

More than 500 attendees from 11 nations attending the “Second International Conference on Electric Mobility” in Medellin September 25-26 heard from dozens of international and national experts on the need to speed-up the nascent adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) here.

Such an acceleration of EV adoption would slash air pollution, improve public health, reduce energy-import dependence and cut "global warming" emissions, according to expert speakers here.

Meanwhile, “range fear” – a crucial consumer issue that heretofore has hobbled EV adoption -- is declining, as Colombia now has two EVs offering 300-kilometers autonomy between recharges – the Renault "Zoe" five-passenger sedan, sold at COP$99 million/US$33,000, and the BMW “i” sedan, at COP$150 million/US$50,000.

What’s more, China-based BYD is now offering a 400-kilometers autonomy “E5” five-passenger sedan in Colombia, at COP$107 million/US$35,600. Having first launched sales in Bogota, BYD is now debuting a new-car showroom and maintenance shop in Medellin, due in October.

Nissan also has its prior-generation, 200-kilometer-autonomy “Leaf” available here at COP$117 million (US$39,000). But the company hasn’t yet decided whether to launch a longer-autonomy version for Latin America next year.

In addition, Medellin-based national motorcycle assembly and marketing giant Auteco is offering several varieties of “Starker” electric motorcycles and bicycles, at prices that would seem to be affordable even for low-income individuals and families.

However, “e-motorcyles” and “e-bikes” would be even more attractive to lower-income families if Colombia eliminated import taxes and value-added taxes on such vehicles -- and if governments incentivized wider construction and deployment of public "e-motorycle" recharge stations, according to the company.

Auteco sold more than 4,000 EV motorcycles in Colombia last year – a drop in the bucket compared to the 8 million gasoline-fueled motorcycles in Colombia, however. What’s more, the Medellin metro area is now hosting more than 700,000 motorcycles, accounting for the single biggest chunk of air pollution among all types of vehicles.

Gasoline-engined motorcycles of less-than-125-cubic-centimeters displacement account for more than 95% of Colombian motorcycle sales, as these enjoy tax exemptions. Problem: Such motorcycles are not only cheap, but also relatively "dirty" in tailpipe emissions.

The annual Electric Mobility conference, this year in Medellin -- organized by the United Nations-accredited World Energy Council (WEC) -- aims to help nations and municipalities overcome environmental, economic, energy and social problems caused by pollution from internal combustion engines (ICEs).

In a keynote presentation here, WEC-Colombia chapter president Jose Antonio Vargas -- who's also the president of Italy-based power giant Enel’s “Codensa” power subsidiary in Colombia -- cited enormous public-health costs of air pollution, especially cardiopulmonary diseases triggered by ozone and particulate matter (PM) emissions mainly from vehicles in cities.

But there’s hope on the horizon, as zero-emissions EV costs are falling in concert with the plunging cost of the most expensive component: batteries. This would make EV cars and motorcycles attractive to vast numbers of middle-class and lower-income Colombian families, he showed.

In 2018, EV battery costs were 43% of the total cost of electric cars, at around US$240 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), Vargas showed.

However, that’s down from US$400/kWh only four years ago – and battery costs are seen falling to around US$100/kWh sometime between 2025 and 2030, making EVs cost about the same as ICE cars, he showed.

Meanwhile, big cities including Medellin are facing ever-worsening air-pollution crises mainly caused by ICE vehicle pollution, with a new alert just issued for the month of October.

As a result, the Area Metropolitana del Valle de Aburra (AMVA, the Medellin metro council of governments) just expanded “pico y placa” orders banning circulation of ICE vehicles during certain hours, with vehicle rotations based on odd/even license plate numbers.

The “pico y placa” restriction exempts zero-emissions EVs. But that exemption is only one of a very few Colombian local or national government incentives for EV purchases. As a result, today’s EV incentives aren’t nearly big enough to encourage faster turnover of ICE fleets to EVs, Vargas argued.

While China is leading the world in massive EV production, development, deployment and government incentives, in Latin America, Chile is taking the regional lead toward EV adoption, as a law first adopted in 2014 imposes a US$1,000 extra charge on gasoline and diesel-fueled vehicles -- while electric power tariffs are cut 30% for EV owners recharging at night, he noted.

While home- or office-based charging accounts for the vast majority of EV recharges everywhere in the world, Chile has rapidly expanded public-access charging as well. What’s more, the Chilean government offers subsidies of up-to-US$8,000 for purchase of EV taxis, and the city of Santiago is moving to replace old, “dirty” diesel buses with 2,000 electric buses by 2025, he showed.

Neighboring Ecuador also offers relatively hefty incentives for EVs including restrictions on ICEs for inner-city travel, exemptions from value-added tax and import duties, and elimination of the former limit of 1,000 EV imports per year. As a result, Ecuador now expects that at least 22% of all new cars bought there by 2032 will be EVs.

As for Colombia, the only incentives for EV purchases are a reduction in value-added tax (to 5% instead of 19%) on new EV cars. However, the government is only allowing the duty-free import of 1,500 EVs per year, greatly restricting market access.

Ironically, the national electric-power planning agency (UPME) has set a goal to require at least 400,000 EVs in Colombia during the next decade. Yet at the same time, other government agencies are severely restricting EV imports or delaying imports via cumbersome reporting regulations, experts pointed-out here.

Meanwhile, Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez announced September 13 that the city aims to have "streets free of ICE vehicles by 2030," and newly elected Colombia President Ivan Duque is promising to promote “massive” deployment and use of EVs in Colombia.

However, only 754 EVs were bought in Colombia last year, out of a total passenger vehicle fleet of 5.8 million cars and 8 million motorcycles, WEC’s Vargas noted.

Today’s EV passenger sedans in Colombia can cost two-to-three times as much as comparable ICE cars, although future EVs are likely to be much cheaper within about five to seven years, he said.

However, Colombia’s cities can’t wait to crank-up the battle against choking air pollution, he said.

Which is why government agencies should move to eliminate value-added tax on EVs through 2030, eliminate limits on tariff-free imports, impose higher taxes on dirty fossil fuels and vehicles, speed-up adoption of electric transit buses, public-fleet vehicles and taxis, move to impose much-tougher “Euro-6” tailpipe emissions limits, allow companies and individuals to deduct the cost of EV recharge stations against taxable income, require public EV recharge stations to be included in new buildings, require builders of the new “4G” inter-departmental highways to install public EV recharge stations, and allow EV owners to enjoy a discounted annual vehicle-circulation-tax, he said.

Medellin ‘E-Taxi’ Plan Hits Snag

On a related front, Medellin’s plan to have 1,500 EV taxis by 2020 has hit a snag as project participant EPM pulled-back on earlier promises to subsidize the scheme – due to financial problems arising from the troubled “Hidroituango” hydroelectric plant in Antioquia.

In a post-presentation interview here, EPM commercial director Juan Rafael Lopez confirmed to Medellin Herald that the “Hidroituango” problem forced the electric utility to cut funding for the proposed E-taxi project -- with the result that multi-party “structuring” discussions are now trying to unblock the project with alternative schemes.

In a separate interview following his presentation here, Medellin Mobility Secretary Humberto Iglesias told Medellin Herald that the multi-party discussions are considering a new, two-tiered tariff structure that would allow “green” EV taxis to charge higher fares than the “yellow” gasoline-powered taxis.

While many taxi customers are seen likely to choose the cheaper (and higher-polluting) “yellow” taxis, there will be portions of the Medellin population that would prefer “green” taxis -- just as some Medellin residents already choose to pay higher fares for “Uber” taxis, he explained to us.

Meanwhile, the explosive growth in relatively high-polluting gasoline motorcycles in Medellin over the last 10 years can be explained in part by the low cost of such transport, he said. A Medellin resident earning Colombia’s minimum monthly salary today would pay about 30% of that salary for local public transport -- but only 22% of that salary for motorcycle transport, he said.

One remedial measure being considered is a possible scheme to ban access to the city center by polluting gasoline motorcycles. This would encourage such motorcyclers to migrate to zero-emissions public transport or else zero-emissions EV motorcycles, he added.

Another proposed scheme (since discarded) was expansion of the current 19,000 limit on taxi licenses in Medellin to include paired, “green” EV taxis. That proposal would have allowed individual license owners to add an EV to their existing operating permit -- and then scrap the “paired” gasoline taxi after three years, leaving the "green" E-taxi to take its place.

Problem: Taxi owners complained that this proposed scheme would have expanded supply for taxi services in Medellin without increasing demand, hence lowering daily revenues. In addition, the city doesn’t want to expand the vehicle fleet in street-congested Medellin by lifting the current 19,000 limit on taxis to include more "green" taxis, Iglesias added.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by September 06 2018 0

Colombia’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (“MinCit”) announced September 5 that the “Colombia Travel Expo 2018” at the Hotel Intercontinental in Medellin this week is seen generating at least COP$15 billion (US$4.8 million) in immediate business deals.

Meanwhile, the recently concluded “Expocamacol” building-construction trade show at Medellin’s Plaza Mayor convention center – attended by more than 18,000 registrants -- generated another US$22 million in immediate business deals (double that of the 2016 show), with likely tens of millions of dollars more in future construction business deals for Medellin, Antioquia and Colombia generally, according to trade-promotion agency ProColombia.

What’s more, Medellin’s hotels, restaurants and taxis netted more than US$12 million from the surge in tourism during “Expocamacol,” according to the agency.

“Expocamacol 2018 has an international reputation as the most specialized trade-fair [for the -building-construction sector] in Latin America,” added Camacol Antioquia general manager Educardo Loaiza Posada.

In total, the Expocamacol show occupied 11 pavilions at Plaza Mayor, with 410 exhibitors from 20 countries taking 24,000 square meters of show-floor space, attending 239 international buyers from 26 countries as well as hundreds of Colombian buyers.

Panamá, Ecuador, Peru and the USA were the four countries making the largest business deals, according to Camacol.

Meanwhile, for the “Colombia Travel Expo,” MinCit cited Fontur statistics indicating that 224 travel-related agencies and 150 sellers of “destination packages” had already set-up some 2,040 business appointments.

Some 10,000 registered attendees will visit with some 430 exhibitors at “Colombia Travel 2018,” which is mainly focused upon cultural- and nature-oriented tourism, according to MinCit.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by July 17 2018 0

Medellin-based textile-fashion industry trade group Inexmoda reported July 26 that the just-concluded, 29th annual “Colombiamoda” show at Plaza Mayor generated sales deals worth US$169 million.

While that was about 6% short of what organizers had initially hoped for this year's edition, it's nevertheless a generally positive sign, given relatively weak economic conditions that have pinched regional clothing demand over the past couple of years, according to Inexmoda.

Some 500 entrepreneurs -- 84% Colombian nationals (with Antioquia the biggest single group) and 16% international – cut deals with some 11,000 buyers from 40 countries at this year's show. Ecuador (17% of international buyers), Mexico (15%) the United States (14%) and Peru (9%) were the biggest groups of foreign buyers, according to Inexmoda.

For the total 27,200 visitors to the show, highlights included demonstrations and fashion parades from 46 major fashion designers and 10 commercial brands, according to Inexmoda.

In this year’s special graphic-arts design section at the show, 25 artists “expressed the latest trends in finished product graphics,” via four special conferences and two workshops attended by 150 potential customers.

“Taking advantage of the digital transformation that is currently happening, for this edition of Colombiamoda, a ‘Business Agenda Platform’ was organized for the first time, featuring a web portal where 11,000 national and international buyers could make 409 appointments with the 500 exhibitors” at the show, according to Inexmoda.

A parallel “Business Conference of New Technologies” organized by Colombia’s Ministry of Technology, Information and Commerce and the ProColombia export agency brought together 30 exporters of information technology and digital content related to the fashion industry. These exporters connected with some 78 entrepreneurs in the industry, generating business expectations of US$1.1 million, according to Inexmoda.

Meanwhile, the Inexmoda "Knowledge Pavilion" – organized by Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana – attracted 12,138 live attendees 4,051 others via internet streaming for expert talks on the latest in fashion and consumer-demographic trends this year.

Besides generating hefty sales deals for clothing designers and manufacturers, the show also netted the city of Medellin an estimated US$9 million in hotel, restaurant and transportation revenues, according to Medellin’s Secretary of Industry and Tourism.

The 2018 edition of the show included the latest clothing designs from Exito's "Arkitect" brand at the opening, Isabel Henao designs at the closing, as well as renowned Andrés Pajón, Camilo Álvarez, Andrea Landa and SOY collections, “among the great figures on the catwalks of ‘La Semana de la Moda’ in Colombia,” according to the show organizer.

"Arkitect" fashion designer Custo Barcelona developed a line that "continues to democratize fashion, including clothing production 100% made-in-Colombia,” according to Inexmoda.

Other veteran designers on the fashion agenda this year included Diego Guarnizo and María Luisa Ortiz (presented by The Foundation for Women AVON); Andrés Pajón, Camilo Alvarez and Andrea Landa (presented by Chevrolet); and ALADO, celebrating 10 years of fashion-industry trajectory, according to the group.

Emerging designers featured at “El Cubo” included Geraldine Lustgarten, Kinira Swimwear, La Mar, Vana, Beat-a-bee and Afrikans, while other young designers such as Alexandra Bueno, Rocío Borré (with her trademark “Bahamamama” beach wear), María Alejandra Cajamarca (with her “Bahía María” swimwear) separately were featured at a “Nonstop Moda” event.

International clothing designer GEF returned to Colombiamoda this year, along with other major brands including Offcorss, Maaji, Ann Chery, Chamela, Trucco's Jeans, Carmen Steffens and People, according to Inexmoda.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by January 26 2018 0

Inexmoda -- the Medellin-based national trade group for Colombia’s textile and fashion industry – announced January 25 that the 30th annual “Colombiatex” show here generated new business deals likely to top US$356 million, surpassing last year’s estimate of US$326 million.

In total, 36% of the dollar value of projected new-business deals here involved purchase of textiles; 28% involved machinery, 19% in feedstocks other than fibers; 10% in fibers, and 7% in “other” supplies.

In all, 22,653 people from 60 nations attended this year’s version of Colombiatex – up 3% year-on-year – among which were 14,023 commercial buyers, 13% of those international. Among the internationals, 28% came from Ecuador; 10% from Mexico and 8% from the USA.

During the three-day event (January 23-25), Colombiatex once again cemented its position among Latin America’s leading textile-industry trade shows -- with growing evidence of renewed industry optimism this year, following a difficult 2017, when Colombian consumers were hit by higher retail value-added (IVA) taxes and an economic slow-down, as noted in a closing press conference by Inexmoda president Carlos Eduardo Botero.

This year’s show over-flowed the entire Plaza Mayor inside-space capacity, spilling into tented staging-areas adjacent -- resulting in more-than 12,000 square meters of commercial show area for the 579 exhibitors from 22 countries.

Brazil – which in December 2017 approved a two-way, free-trade agreement with Colombia, eliminating duties on textiles and clothing -- led the field in international exhibitors (21%), with India second (19%) and Spain third (10%), according to Inexmoda.

“The Colombiatex model gives us a very positive cost-benefit and the [participating] companies are very satisfied, especially given the new agreement between Mercosur nations [Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina] and Colombia, which stimulates bilateral trade relations,” added Rafael Cervone, executive director of the Texbrasil textile promotional group.

In addition to the surging crowds and bigger buying deals, Colombiatex also hosted 21 lectures on industrial, technical, social, environmental, marketing and fashion trends -- organized by Medellin’s Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB) and attended by 7,300 in-person, plus another 6,700 via internet streaming to international audiences, thanks to live broadcasts by local TV station Telemedellin.

Another nine “trends-forum” sessions here attracted 1,038 attendees for special insights into textile and fashion concepts, while 10 other workshops examined emerging challenges facing textile and clothing manufacturers.

Meanwhile, a concurrent “fashion system business roundtable” organized by the Mayor of Medellin and business-promotion agency ProColombia brought-together 161 local exporters and 85 international buyers, generating an estimated US$9 million in additional business deals.

Yet another new feature to this year’s edition of Colombiatex included 32 independent graphic and visual artists who showed their designs and explained the latest technical trends in graphics, colors and textures. Meanwhile, “Denim Day” demonstrations -- now a leading feature at Colombiatex -- showed the latest innovations in design and manufacture in jeans-wear.

Finally, according to figures provided by the Medellin Mayor’s office, each foreign attendee to Colombiatex this year was estimated to have spent (on average) about COP$2,416,320 (US$858) per day in hotel, meals, transport and other expenses, with a net economic benefit to the city of about US$12 million.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by December 07 2017 0

Medellin-based Inexmoda – the trade association for Colombia’s textile and fashion industry – announced December 5 that the 30th annual “Colombiatex” trade show will bring-together some 550 companies, 125 exhibitors and about 15,800 buyers from 60 countries.

The show -- running January 23-25, 2018, at Medellin’s Plaza Mayor convention center – will feature displays and demonstrations of textile manufacturing, novel materials, chemicals, new technologies, emerging fashion trends and business analysis.

Medellin’s Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB) will offer 17 expert presentations at the adjacent Teatro Metropolitano, while the main Plaza Mayor will host another 15 workshops on business models, communications, brand marketing, technologies and sustainable practices, according to Inexmoda.

The Medellín metro area (including Bello, Marinilla, Don Matias and Santa Rosa de Osos) is home to 38% of Colombia’s national textile production, specializing in cotton, polyester mixtures, specialty wools, flat panels and stitching, the trade group noted.

Key markets for Medellin textile products include the USA, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Brasil and Costa Rica. (The formerly robust export market to Venezuela has collapsed in recent years thanks to that country’s disastrous “socialist” economic policies).

“Colombiatex has established itself as a reference space for the Latin American market, in addition to presenting a very good image for the sector,” said Ana Marcela García, chief executive at Artextil, exhibiting at Colombiatex for 25 years now. “It is the perfect opportunity to generate synergies that strengthen us as a world-class sector,” she added.

On a similar note, Enka-Colombia president Álvaro Hincapié Vélez noted that his company has participated in every Colombiatex fair since its launch in 1987.

“The history of Enka can be described as a story of transformation in which we’ve succeeded in making [materials] recyling a sustainable business,” Hincapie explained.

“Today, more than 45% of our products are derived from recycled materials -- and in this edition of Colombiatex we’re launching our new ‘EKO’ filaments made from recycled PET [polyethylene terephthalate] plastic bottles,” he said.

This year’s special invitee is Brazil, sponsored by ABIT, Apex-Brasil, Abimaq and Assintecal. The new free-trade agreement between Colombia and Brazil “enables Colombian clothing and textiles to enter Brazil without tariffs,” Inexmoda noted.

For Colombiatex 2018, a new section will be dedicated to high-tech graphic arts in clothing manufacture, the trade group added.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by December 01 2017 0

Organizers of the biannual Feria Internacional del Sector Electrico (FISE) electric-power industry conference in Medellin announced December 1 that this year’s edition generated US$230 million in new business deals, of which US$214 million involved 50 international buyers and US$10.9 million from 80 national buyers.

FISE’s organizers include the Chamber of Commerce of Medellin for Antioquia (CCM), the “Cluster Energia Sostenible” (the 867-member power-industry group of metro Medellin), the Medellin municipal government, and Medellin-based electric-power research group CIDET (Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo del Sector Eléctrico).

Organizers combined this year’s version of FISE with two concurrent conferences – the International Center for Hydropower (ICH), and the fifth congress of the Latin American energy integration group (Comisión de Integración Energética Regional, CIER).

Medellin is at the center of Colombia’s top international electric-power conferences as it hosts the nation’s biggest multinational power producers, transmitters, distributors and engineering giants, including EPM, Isa, Isagen, XM and HMV Ingenieros. What's more, city-owned multinational power giant EPM by itself provides 25% of the annual revenues for Medellin, as Mayor Federico Gutierrez pointed-out in a press conference here.

In addition, once the 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydropower plant (owned by EPM and the Antioquia departmental government) is in full production by 2021, Antioquia alone will produce more than 50% of all Colombia’s electric power, as sustainable-energy-cluster director Jaime Arenas Plata explained to Medellin Herald.

Following start-up, Hidroituango would generate roughly COP$6 trillion (US$2 billion) in annual revenue, Mayor Gutierrez added.

The three industry conferences – held concurrently at Medellin’s Plaza Mayor conference center – together attracted an estimated 15,000 delegates, plus 158 technical sessions (which attracted 3,300 delegates), taking 20,000 square meters of show-floor space (the entire Plaza Mayor capacity), and brought 310 exhibitors from 20 countries – including 208 from Colombia, 15 from Mexico, 13 from the USA, 12 from China, 12 from Brazil, 10 from Argentina, six from Norway, five from Germany, four from Spain and two each from Ecuador, the Czech Republic and Turkey.

Exhibitors and technical talks rose sharply, while the international business-deal estimate for 2017 was nearly double that of 2015 -- the product of 700 arranged negotiations involving buyers from 16 nations, as ProColombia regional director Santiago Viera Ochoa explained in a closing press conference.

‘Smart City’ Highlights EVs, Power Networking

This year’s version of FISE featured a first-ever “Smart City Experience” section including demonstrations of electric cars, motorcycles and bikes, organized by FISE and Medellin’s Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB) university.

The “Smart City” also included demonstrations of computer-controlled street-lighting systems, advanced sensors and automated controls for energy-efficient homes and offices, a mock-up of Medellin-based national power-grid operator and power-trading center XM, plus technical presentations on Medellin’s expanding electric vehicle (EV) fleet and recharge network.

While Medellin hopes to expand its electric vehicle (EV) fleet, the city today has less-than 200 total EVs, with public EV-recharge-capacity for only 5,000 more -- compared to the city’s 700,000 gasoline-powered motorcycles and 650,000 gasoline or diesel-powered cars, trucks and buses, Mayor Gutierrez pointed out in his press conference prior to the launch of the "Smart CIty" exhibit.

However, EPM distributed-power technical expert Jorge Mario Ramirez explained in a presentation here that EPM is working with taxi fleets on a plan to bring 1,500 EV taxis to Medellin over the next three years, to complement the existing electric-powered Metro rail, “Metrocable” aerial trams, the “Tranvia” electric road trams and the eventual conversion of today’s natural-gas-powered “Metroplus” bus-rapid-transit (BRT) buses to all-electric power.

Broader adoption of EV’s in Medellin would help slash the city’s air pollution – 80% of which is caused by a huge fleet of diesel and gasoline cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles (many of them obsolete), as Mayor Gutierrez pointed-out.

To help jump-start this transition, EPM employees have been running experimental trials of EVs since 2012. But the company only launched promotion of an incipient public-recharge network last month.

Meanwhile, Colombia’s national government recently extended the 0% tariff on imported EVs for the next three years (for a maximum 3,000 vehicles) -- and the value-added tax (IVA) was cut to 5%, from 19% for most other goods in Colombia. IVA on EVs could be cut to zero if a bill pending in the Colombian Senate eventually passes.

EV’s also enjoy an exemption from Medellin's “pico-y-placa” control system that bans cars with certain license-plate numbers from operating on certain days.

Another law passed earlier this year slashes the cost of installing an EV recharge station by 80%. Typical residential recharge installations are estimated at COP$1 million (US$330) to COP$2 million (US$660), depending upon complexity and distance between the garage and customer’s meter, Ramirez estimated.

Still, the cost of EV batteries needs to fall even more in order to attract more car buyers, as Mayor Gutierrez and numerous other experts pointed-out at FISE here. Once new EV cars have an initial cost that’s similar to a comparable gasoline-powered car, then EV sales are likely to skyrocket beyond the 1.1 million EVs sold world-wide so-far this year.

While some car buyers might worry about traveling distance between recharges, most new EVs today have a traveling autonomy (between recharges) of around 200 to 250 kilometers – far more than needed by typical daily commuters, Ramirez added.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by October 02 2017 0

Some 250 executives of some of the world’s top gold-mining companies are forecast to attend the second annual Colombia Gold Symposium November 14-15 at Hotel San Fernando Plaza in Medellin.

According to symposium organizer Paul Harris, delegates will hear presentations from more than 15 exploration and development companies including Minesa, Continental Gold, Red Eagle Mining and Antioquia Gold.

This year’s edition of the symposium also features a session on the copper potential of this region, “which is attracting increasing interest from large producers as well as explorers, particularly given the increasing copper price environment,” according to Harris.

On that front, Gloria Prieto of the Colombian Geological Survey (CGS) will provide an overview of Colombia’s copper potential and explain an upcoming auction of copper-exploration concessions.

“In terms of Colombia’s gold potential, Orosur will provide an update about the Anza project where it recently restarted drilling, Gran Colombia Gold will discuss the high-grade mineralization it is finding at its Marmato project and Tim Coughlin of Royal Road Minerals will talk about exploration in Nariño, one of Colombia’s most promising areas now that the civil conflict with the FARC is ending,” Harris added.

Meanwhile, Silvana Habib, president of Colombia’s National Mining Agency, and Santiago Angel of the Colombian Mining Association, will discuss “efforts to improve [mining] sector administration,” while a regulatory session will include a roundtable discussion by natural-resource lawyers discussing “strategies for companies to adopt to deal with particular aspects of bureaucracy,” he said.

On a related front, Birsa International will head a session on optimizing community relations; Intera will talk about responsible water management and communication; Brigitte Baptiste of the Humboldt Institute will discuss whether and how mining can be compatible with the environment; and Control Risks will talk through the issues and opportunities arising from Colombia’s peace process with guerilla groups.

Field trips following the conference include visits to San Matias (Cordoba Minerals), San Ramon (Red Eagle Mining), El Roble (Atico Mining), Buritica (Continental Gold) and Anza (Orosur).

On the finance front, the symposium will include expert speakers from Canadian bank CIBC, Peru’s Kallpa Securities, EY, Oreninc and NortonRose Fulbright, Harris added.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by September 16 2017 0

Medellin-based Agrofuturo announced September 15 that the just-concluded 11th edition of “Expo Agrofuturo” drew more than 25,000 attendees from 30 countries and generated approximately US$300 million in business deals, up nearly a third from last year’s show.

The trade show at Medellin’s Plaza Mayor convention center brought together 420 local and international companies along with dozens of experts expounding upon all facets of agriculture, with advanced technology and “green” biotech grabbing much of the limelight.

For example: Two of the three “innovation award” winners at this year’s edition – Anka Robotica and Taclla – are developers of drone-based crop detection and analysis technologies, while the third “innovation” winner was Medellin-based GE3 Biotech.

Meanwhile, this year’s “sustainability award” went to Cali-based Arroz Blanquita – a pioneering producer and marketer of organic rice, employing non-chemical pest-control schemes that are actually beneficial rather than harmful to birds and other wildlife.

On a similar note, Medellin-based banking giant Bancolombia unveiled a COP$350 billion (US$120 million) “Agroverde” line of credit for farmers employing environment-friendly technologies and production schemes.

Today, only 24% of Colombia’s arable land is used for farming -- just 5.3 million hectares of 22 million available hectares, according to Bancolombia. Another 35 million hectares in Colombia are dedicated to cattle ranching. But in many cases today, ranchers aren’t making best use of that land.

While Colombia (and Antioquia specifically) is a major world player in export of cut flowers, coffee, bananas and some tropical fruits, it has tremendous potential for expansion and diversification, as several experts from Chile (this year's special invitee) noted in a panel discussion on export development.

For example: Ricardo Navarrete -- Chile’s Embassador to Colombia – pointed out in his presentation here that while Chile has become a huge world player in fruit exports, “Colombia has much better climate conditions than Chile.”

As a result, with more robust investment in farming -- combined with upgrades in road and port infrastructure, plus continuing expansion of free-trade agreements -- Colombia could become a much bigger player in global agricultural exports, even potentially passing Chile, he added.

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About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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