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Published in general news Written by November 18 2019 0

South Africa-based global mining giant AngloGold Ashanti on November 28 unveiled more details of its proposed "Quebradona" copper-gold mining project at Jerico, Antioquia -- including a novel "Biodynamic" nature park that would restore and improve the entire area, as part of its just-filed environmental impact assessment (EIA).

AngloGold first unveiled the scheme at the Colombia Gold Symposium (CGS) November 12-13 here in Medellin, where environmentally and socially responsible mining took front-and-center stage -- outshining even the usual presentations on geology, politics and legalities.

Why this scheme is so important: If the new, socially/environmentally responsible miners succeed in convincing a wider public, then Antioquia and Colombia could look forward to billions of dollars of new investments, big jumps in tax-and-royalty revenues, new jobs and business opportunities, infrastructure improvements, educational advancements, government fiscal solvency -- and even (amazingly) environmental progress.

The "Quebradona' project would become Colombia’s biggest copper-and-gold mine in pastoral Jerico, Antioquia – while actually improving the local environment via post-mining construction of a remarkable “Biodynamic” nature park.

The repercussions could be seen as almost biblical, as AngloGold potentially could become something like a 21st-century version of “Joshua” at the battle of Jerico -- where anti-mining walls could come tumbling down.

According to the company, "after a rigorous process that included more than 14 years of studies of the subsoil and on the social, economic and environmental characteristics of Jericho, Antioquia, AngloGold Ashanti began the process of filing with the environmental authorities of the departmental and national agencies of the EIA for the Quebradona copper mining project, with which the route to obtain the environmental license for the project begins.

"To construct the study, the company carried out exhaustive analyzes and projections by 27 expert consultants in geology, hydrology, ecology, among other specialties. Also, between November 2018 and September 2019, AngloGold heard the concerns of more than 2,600 inhabitants of Jericho through 150 meetings, in order to raise solutions in the same document."

“The exhaustive analysis and dialogue with the community, together with the advanced technology that we plan to use in the project, allow us to have the certainty that the EIA not only integrates the components required by the authorities to ensure compliance with the technical specifications and social and environmental obligations of the project, but reflects high international standards of sustainable mining to ensure that it meets the purpose of converting the mineral wealth of the territory into social, economic and environmental progress, ” added Felipe Márquez Robledo, president of AngloGold Ashanti Colombia.

In response to public concerns, AngloGold Ashanti integrated into the EIA a "gradual regeneration plan of 2,550 hectares of tropical dry forest and high mountain forest of Jericho," according to the company.

 "The investment includes improving the connectivity of fauna and flora in the ecological corridor between the Cauca river, the escarpment area, the Piedras river, the Quebradona ravine basin, the integrated management district (Distrito de Manejo Integrado, DMI) of the Cuchilla-Jardín-Tamesis region, and the La Guamo ravine basin, in such a way that wildlife species recover mobility between ecosystems and increase native plant cover that will generate goods and services that can be used by birds in the region.

"The EIA also ratifies AngloGold Ashanti's commitment not to use water that supplies the Jerico municipality. In the construction and operation [of the mining project], the company will use less than 1% of the Cauca River water -- and recirculation [of Cauca water] will be 80% in the process circuit," according to the company.

 

Worried environmentalists, some local farmers and some townspeople in Jerico have been fighting the proposed “Quebradona” mine for years, fearing potential water, air and noise pollution, ugly land subsidence and possible increases in local crime and prostitution. In addition, the politically powerful, Medellin-based "Comfama" social-benefits organization has expressed concerns that the new mine might cause undue pollution or other harm to its proposed "Ecoparque Turístico Los Farallones de La Pintada" ecopark nearby. 

But the Colombian Constitutional Court recently ruled that local governments (including Jerico) can’t by themselves ban mining – although the Court also said that the national government ought to consult with local governments before issuing mining licenses and environmental permits. Colombia’s Congress is supposed to enact a new law defining this consultative scheme.

Meanwhile, two recent Antioquia court rulings have nullified prior Jerico ordinances that would have prohibited mining.

Just as significant, the newly elected Mayor of Jerico -- David Alonso Toro Cadavid – publicly announced that if the national government ultimately approves “Quebradona” licenses, then the local government will do everything it can to ensure an environmentally and socially responsible project.

AngloGold’s upcoming license application to Autoridad Nacional de Licencias Ambientales (ANLA, the national environmental licensing agency) is expected to be filed within weeks, according to the company.

Prior to that filing, AngloGold’s “Quebradona” mining project manager Ingrid Suarez and AngloGold Colombia corporate affairs manager Juan Camilio Quintero unveiled to CGS 2019 a startling, English-language animated film showing how the mine would be built, operated, safely closed and then repurposed into an environmentally friendly, 2,548-hectares-wide biopark – without polluting water, land or air, or causing any disastrous surface subsidence.

Rather than just generating profits for AngloGold, the “Quebradona” project aims to generate “social wealth for Jerico, Antioquia and Colombia,” along with “environmental regeneration,” Quintero stated here.

Bonus: The company will put US$2.5 million/year into “Fundacion ProJerico” for social development schemes.

The project design includes avoidance of noise or air pollution -- partly by employing underground processing of extracted rock -- and putting tailings adjacent to an existing, non-native pine-tree plantation – all of which eventually will be replanted with native species and reconnected to biological corridors that previously have been ruined by local deforestation.

The project entails four years of construction, 24 years of productive mining, 10 years of closure work and construction of the “Biodynamic” park, which will include bird-watching towers, an educational laboratory to promote conservation and native species, solar and wind turbines for zero-emissions electric power, and restoration of tropical dry forest.

The “Quebradona” project is located about three kilometers from the Puente Iglesias bridge over the Cauca river, from which 0.25 cubic meters per second of water will be withdrawn for the mine processing works, according to Suarez.

Sediment ponds from mine extractions and processing will feature effluent treatments to ensure that water returning to the Cauca river will meet stringent environmental limits, according to the company.

Tailings will include filtration systems to ensure that any possible water migration to nearby streams wouldn’t be acidic, she said. Plugging of ventilation shafts will avoid water filtration through the mine post-closing. Other systems will be employed to minimize noise, dust and light pollution during the term of mine operations.

Published in general news Written by November 14 2019 0

Colombia’s Controller General (Contraloria General de la Republica, CGR) Carlos Felipe Córdoba Larrarte announced November 14 that his agency has opened an investigation into two former Medellin Mayors, two former Antioquia Governors and three EPM representatives potentially responsible for construction errors and financial losses resulting from the collapse of a diversion tunnel last year at the US$5 billion “Hidroituango” hydroelectric project.

The decision to probe the former politicians, EPM officials and “Hidroituango” board members – including 29 others involved in the construction – comes on the heels of a CGR announcement in September determining that EPM could lose as much as US$1.17 billion in certain revenues and costs resulting from that tunnel collapse (see Medellin Herald September 20, 2019).

Immediately following the November 14 CGR announcement, EPM general manager Jorge Londoño de la Cuesta stated that EPM hasn’t yet been notified of the probe, but will cooperate with the investigation.

While the CGR didn’t name which politicians or officials are under investigation, the press release implicitly excludes current Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez and current Antioquia Governor Luis Perez.

Incoming Governor Anibal Gaviria was a Medellin Mayor during the time-frame cited in the CGR probe, as was former Medellin Mayor Alfonso Salazar.

Former Governors Luis Alfredo Ramos and Sergio Fajardo (another former Medellin Mayor) also were serving as Antioquia Governors during the time cited in the probe, as noted in a report by Colombian daily newspaper El Tiempo.

Former EPM general manager Juan Esteban Calle and current general manager Londoño de la Cuesta also would face questioning, along with former EPM and Hidroituango project board members.

The CGR announcement states that Hidroituango losses would include COP$2.97 trillion (US$860 million) in “loss or destruction of value of the project” as well as another COP$1.1 trillion (US$318 million) “due to resources no longer received by the government as a result of the non-operation of the hydroelectric plant,” which originally was supposed to have started-up at end-2018 -- initially at one-quarter (600-megawatts) of its eventual 2.4-gigawatts capacity.

EPM now estimates that first power output (at 600-MW) won’t happen until end-2021, three years after the original, planned start-up – hence costing hundreds of millions of dollars in lost power sales.

The CGR report alleges that missteps in Hidroituango construction, engineering and spending decisions were “not justified, because they obeyed the need to address situations that arose as a result of serious problems in the planning and execution of the project, attributable to improvisation and the lack of follow-up and control of the related parties as presumed responsible.

“These greater unjustified investments destroyed the value of the project as it was conceived from its baseline, thus generating damage to the state’s assets [including its part-owners: the city of Medellin and the Department of Antioquia] in the form of impairment or loss.

“In turn, as a result of the non-operation of the hydroelectric plant [that is, at the initial December 2018 start-up deadline], due to the unjustified increases in the work schedule, which were due to planning problems and construction errors, damage to the state’s assets was generated in the form of impairment,” according to the CGR report.

“After completing the respective notification process of this opening order, the CGR’s Office of the Intersectorial Comptroller Delegate No. 9 of the Unit of Special Investigations against Corruption will proceed to cite the alleged perpetrators,” according to CGR.

“After this process, the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic will proceed to make the corresponding decision” on whether to impute charges or dismiss the case.

Published in general news Written by November 08 2019 0

Medellin-based electric power giant EPM on November 8 debuted a new, 550-meters-long highway atop its US$5 billion “Hidroituango” hydroelectric dam – and almost simultaneously highlighted numerous social reconstruction projects in communities affected by a May 2018 flood downstream of the dam.

The highway on top of the new dam -- which spans the Cauca River just upstream of Puerto Valdivia -- connects with 23 kilometers of newly built, adjoining highways between neighboring communities around the town of Ituango, according to EPM.

The new highway from the Toledo valley runs along the right bank of the Cauca River reservoir (behind the dam) to the western portal of a new road tunnel, then crosses the dam along its crest and, on the left side, continues its route to El Bombillo-- and from there towards the urban center of Ituango.

Social Recovery Projects

Meanwhile, in response to damage from last year's flood, EPM also touted the upcoming construction of a new “Simon Bolivar” bridge in the municipality of Valdivia. On a related front, in the municipality of Tarazá , EPM launched improvements to the structure of the “El Doce” bridge -- aiming to ensure structural conditions “superior to those that existed before,” according to the company.

“Parallel to these interventions, upgrades were completed in seven of 11 [nearby] educational institutions: Nutabes, La Paulina, Playa Rica, Puquí, Zorras, Marco A. Rojo and Cachirimé, [as well as] El Pescado , Barca Cautiva, Puerto Nery and Palomas, [the latter four of which] will be upgraded under a social contracting strategy with each community action board,” according to EPM.

“Other works of greater amplitude are the El Turcó and Palestine bridges which are waiting for environmental permits to advance the contractual process. In addition, [there will be construction of] an integrated community center and a health clinic in a lot that EPM acquired from the National Narcotics Directorate. The start of these constructions is planned for the second half” of 2020, according to the company.

On a related front, of the 2,250 residents of Puerto Valdivia evacuated last year because of the temporary flood, 1,908 (85%) have returned to the area. EPM is continuing projects to restore and refurbish damaged homes, businesses and public spaces, according to the company.

“Progress is being made in the process of recognizing impacts to formal and informal economic activities, as a result of preventive evacuation in Puerto Valdivia,” according to EPM. “To date, 163 complaints [from affected persons] have been processed, of which 126 have accepted [EPM’s compensation] offers. A total of 112 merchants [also] have received agreed-to payments from EPM,” the company added.

Published in general news Written by October 28 2019 0

Voters in Medellin and the surrounding Antioquia department on October 27 continued a long tradition of electing relatively young, energetic, politically moderate mayors along with older, more-experienced governors who are more interested in delivering practical, concrete results rather than poseurs flaunting left-wing or right-wing flamboyance.

Relative newcomer Daniel Quintero Calle – an independent and technocrat who supports continuation of EPM’s giant “Hidroituango” hydroelectric project but questioned EPM’s management – took 38.56% of the Medellin vote for Mayor, beating politically moderate Centro Democratico candidate Alfredo Ramos, son of a former Antioquia governor, who nabbed 29.88% of the vote.

Quintero publicly rejected attacks coming from former Colombia President Alvaro Uribe (leader of Centro Democratico) but simultaneously denounced an endorsement from left-wing politician Gustavo Petro, who was soundly defeated by moderate conservative Ivan Duque in last year’s Colombian presidential elections.

Meanwhile, politically moderate Anibal Gaviria Correa – who won the support of numerous political parties including Liberal, Cambio Radical, La U and Alianza Verde, and likewise supports continuation of the Hidroituango project – got 35.97% of Antioquia’s votes for Governor, beating similarly moderate Centro Democratico candidate Andres Guerra, with 28.78% of the vote.

While Centro Democratico came in second in the Mayor’s and Governor’s races, it nevertheless won the majority of City Council seats and a plurality of Antioquia departmental seats, ensuring that compromise and moderation will continue to dominate Medellin and Antioquia politics.

Published in general news Written by August 21 2019 0

A new report from Medellin-based think-tank Proantioquia shows that the Medellin metro area and the surrounding Antioquia department must redouble efforts to boost industrial specialization, public education, public health and transport infrastructure in order to meet the challenges of the coming decade.

The report (see: https://www.proantioquia.org.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/desafios-y-oportunidades-competitividad.pdf) identifies and examines problems and opportunities in several crucial areas: industrial specialization, people-skills development, environmental protection, economic advancement, specialized education, infrastructure development, public health funding, public security and the “peace process” with guerilla/criminal groups.

As for industrial specialization, the report cites a study by Colombia’s national statistical agency (DANE) indicating that Antioquia had a specialization index rating better than the national average, at 1.07.

But in a separate, related study by Colombia’s national economic planning department (DNP), Antioquia came in eighth place over-all in industrial specialization in 2018 -- better than the 10th place showing in 2017, but still below the rankings of Bolívar, Santander, Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Atlantico, Boyaca, and Caldas (see chart, above).

DANE statistics show that 16% of Antioquia’s gross domestic product (“PIB” in Spanish initials) comes from industry – far above the 12% of PIB that industry contributes to Colombia’s economy nationally, the report notes.

Even so, Antioquia lags far behind the 42.7% PIB contributed by industry in China or the 23.4% PIB from industry in Brazil, the report notes.

However, greater promotion of technological innovation could help boost Antioquia’s industrial PIB, the report concludes.

As an example, Medellin’s “Ruta N” technology center could help lead the charge by promoting and sponsoring more high-tech forums such as TEDx Medellin, “Charlas N,” the Start-up Forum and Fair, Innovation Land and others, according to the Proantioquia report.

The Antioquia departmental government and local Chambers of Commerce could help subsidize and organize more such events beyond just Medellin, the report adds.

As for science, technology and innovation (STI) development, the city of Medellin ought to dedicate at least 7% of its annual profits received from public utility EPM for STI partly at Ruta N, according to the report.

Such funds also could go for student scholarships in public schools and local/international university studies, with a special educational focus related to Medellin and Antioquia’s “clusters” of strategic industries including those tied to “global value chains,” according to the report.

Medellin's strategic clusters today include sustainable energy, fashion/textiles, advanced manufacturing, business tourism, digital businesses, health/medical business and sustainable habitats. Beyond Medellin, Antioquian strategic clusters already include coffee, cacao and dairy products, the report notes.

Infrastucture Deficit: Build More Highways

Recent studies by DANE and Colombia’s private-sector Competitiveness Council show just how far behind Antioquia still remains in building crucial transport networks in and through its mountainous terrain for connection to Atlantic and Pacific ports.

As a result, Antioquia ranks 19th among Colombia’s 26 departments in kilometers of primary highway per 100,000 inhabitants, and 14th in secondary highways per 100,000 inhabitants, the report shows.

A related study by Colombia’s national business trade group ANDI (Association Nacional de Empresarios) shows that Colombia’s industries in interior cities including Medellin and Bogota suffer by paying two-to-four-times as much as neighboring Latin American countries to move standard 40-feet-long containers to and from ocean ports.

What’s more, Antioquia ranks a poor 19th among all Colombian departments in average transport costs to-and-from major ports, or 21% higher cost than the national average, the study shows. Antioquia shipping costs recently averaged about US$34 per ton, or US$1,484 per container, versus just US$13.87 per ton in Boyaca, the report shows.

However, the now-under-construction “fourth generation” (4G) highways including Pacifico 1 & 2, Mar 1 & 2, and “Regional Norte” in Antioquia would dramatically reduce logistical costs, the study notes.

Public Health Cost Problem: Savia Salud

Meanwhile, Antioquia faces another huge cost problem: Savia Salud, Colombia’s single-biggest “mixed” public-private health network, which covers most of the poorest populations.

Savia Salud arose from the bankruptcy and collapse of several other subsidized “EPS” networks, which roughly resemble the “HMO” and “PPO” networks in the USA.

As the report notes, far too many people pay little or nothing for ever-more-complex, ever-more-expensive health services in Antioquia.

Colombia’s national government provides billions of dollars of subsidies for the “subsidized” (poorest) patients and the uninsured, while workers and employers help offset some of these costs in the parallel “contributory” EPS system, the report notes. The governments of Medellin and Antioquia pitch-in with yet more subsidies, while the employer-funded Comfama organization attempts to make-up the rest. But between the three organizations, the subsidies still aren’t enough.

Some sort of “capitalization” scheme (such as a partial sale of stock in Savia Salud to some private health-care company) potentially could ease the fiscal crisis, the report adds. Heftier subsidies from the national government also would help. But Colombia’s national government is already running deeply in the red, making massive increases in subsidies highly unlikely.

On the other hand, pioneering efficiency standards as employed by Sura -- Colombia’s leading private-sector EPS -- probably could help cut some of the deficit, according to the report.

Savia Salud has more than 2.2 million people in its network in Antioquia, of which 1.56 million are the poorest “subsidized” patients. Too many of these poorer people have chronic illnesses and demand the costliest medicines and costliest procedures, which they can’t afford in the private health networks. In addition, many poorer patients in rural parts of Antioquia (and elsewhere) that lack nearby, high-tech hospitals travel to Medellin where they contribute to chaotic, overcrowded conditions in local public hospitals, the report notes.

During the year 2017, Savia Salud ran-up a COP$175 billion (US$52 million) debt and had an accumulated negative net worth of COP$453 billion (US$134 million), the report noted.

What’s more, the mainly public Savia Salud “mixed” EPS “runs the high risk of politicization and burocratization given that its partners [including public hospitals] have certain [payment] expectations and [treatment] mandates,” the report notes.

“This is what in part is the experience today of Savia Salud, where there’s no co-responsibility” between the EPS network and health-service providers to rationalize care. “The model of the EPS has been distorted by an excess of political influence,” the report adds.

Education, Labor, Broadband Upgrading

On other key fronts, Colombia needs to invest much more in technical and technological education --  if the country ever hopes to compete better with more-advanced nations, the report notes.

Partly because of a history of relatively lower-quality public education -- which often doesn't prepare people sufficiently for today's higher-tech jobs -- about 45% of Colombia’s work force is in the “informal” sector rather than working for modernized companies and corporations, the report notes.

According to a recent report from Colombia’s Private Council on Competitiveness, Colombia needs to make several labor reforms, including:

1. Reduce the costs of certain mandatory, non-wage benefits.
2. Modernize labor codes to enable greater work-standards flexibilities.
3. Reduce the costs of hiring new workers.
4. Broaden the tax base to include more salaried employees, hence making possible more-competitive corporate tax rates.
5. Update the social-security systems for health and pensions.
6. Create incentives for informal businesses to convert to formal, tax-paying businesses.

As for public education programs, Antioquia is lagging behind many of its Colombian departmental neighbors, especially in the crucial “STEM” rankings for competence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the report notes.

Meanwhile, just over one-third (34.5%) of Antioquia’s students have access to higher education, according to the report. That puts Antioquia below Risaralda (41% access), Norte de Santander (40%), Boyaca (40%), Quindio (39%) and Atlantico (39%), according to the report.

At the other end of the scale, nations that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on average ensure that 73% of students have access to higher education, while Latin America in general has 48% access coverage, according to the report.

For Antioquia to hit the Latin American average, it ought to be offering higher-education coverage to 263,000 students between 17 and 21. But Antioquia was offering such coverage to just over 199,000 students as of 2017, the report shows.

Future development of proposed “digital universities”  would enable more students in rural areas to access university education -- and that would help cut Antioquia’s higher-ed coverage gap, the report notes.

Expanding broadband internet access also would boost educational prospects for students throughout the Antioquia department, the report notes.

Current Antioquia broadband penetration is 16.6% of the department’s population, second ranked in all Colombia -- and way ahead of the 10% penetration average in all of Latin America, according to the report.

However, more-advanced nations have 35% broadband penetration, while Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Puerto Rico have broadband penetration rates between 17% and 27%, according to the report.
For Antioquia to reach Uruguay’s broadband penetration, another 780,000 citizens would need connections, while 1.27 million would need to be added to reach advanced-nation levels, according to the report.

Published in general news Written by July 11 2019 0

The 13th annual “Medellin Como Vamos?”survey (released April 11, 2019) on citizen perceptions of quality-of-life finds that aside from air pollution, certain security issues and worsening traffic mobility, Medellin residents haven’t changed their opinions very much between 2018 and 2017.

According to the survey of 1,514 households in all economic strata, “the satisfaction with Medellín as a place to live [in 2018] was stable in relation to the year 2017, with eight out of ten citizens satisfied.

“The aspects that the people of Medellín ranked as priority for their own quality of life in 2018 were health (at 74%), education (at 51%) and employment (at 51%), the latter falling four percentage points below what was achieved in 2017.”

The face-to-face survey -- taken between September 21 and November 6 -- found that 45% of Medellin households considered that their economic situation was unchanged year-on-year, while another 38% said their economic situation had improved.

As for employment, 40% of Medellín residents surveyed said that it is “not easy to find a job, compared to two out of ten who considered that it is,” according to the survey conducted by Ipsos Napoleón Franco and co-sponsored by Proantioquia, Universidad Eafit, Fundación Corona, Comfama, Comfenalco, Cámara de Comercio de Medellín and daily newspaper El Colombiano.

“In 2018, the self-perception of poverty remained stable at 18% in relation to the year 2017,” according to the report.

“By zones of the city, the central-eastern and the northeastern regions had the highest self-perception of poverty with 23% and 22%, respectively, while the lowest perception was in the southeast with 5%.

“Regarding the perceived inequality in the city during 2018 in Medellin, citizens said that the aspects where there was more unequal access were well-paid employment (50%), quality health care (44%) and quality housing (42%),” according to the report.

As for public education, “the satisfaction of citizens with the education received by children and young people between five and 17 years of age was 71%, eight percentage points lower than in 2017,” the study noted.

Seventy percent of citizens said they were satisfied with cultural offerings in the city, about the same as in 2017. “On the other hand, the satisfaction with the recreational and sports offer in the city was 77%, three percentage points above what was evidenced in 2017,” according to the survey results.

While health care remains the top issue for Medellín residents, “paradoxically, quality health care was designated as the second most unequal area in Medellín, after well-paid employment,” according to the survey.

As for perceptions about security, “during 2018, 41% of the citizens of Medellin said they felt safe in the city, a figure lower than that of 2017 by six percentage points, while 25% said they felt unsafe, five percentage points higher than what was found in 2017,” according to the survey.

“Of the perception of security in their neighborhood, during 2018, 66% of citizens said they felt safe, while 13% said they felt insecure, figures similar to those of 2017.”

As for housing and public-utilities services, “satisfaction with the neighborhood was 81% and for housing it was 82%, without significant differences in any of the cases versus 2017,” according to the survey. “With regard to public services, domestic [natural] gas was the service with the highest proportion of satisfied households, at 94%,” according to the survey.

While 55% of citizens said they were generally satisfied with environmental quality, “air quality continued to be the issue with the lowest level of satisfaction, with just one in ten citizens satisfied,” according to the survey.

As for mobility, “44% of the inhabitants of Medellín considered that their habitual journeys took longer” in 2018 versus 2017, thanks to the continuing, explosive growth of motorcycles and other vehicles causing traffic congestion here, the survey noted.

Published in general news Written by July 11 2019 0

Update: 3 Medellin Airlines Pick Up Routes Left by ADA

Colombia’s airline oversight agency Aeronautica Civil de Colombia (ACC) announced April 5, 2019 that three airlines – Aeroejectivos de Antioquia SA(AASA), Servicios Aéreos Panamericanos S.A.S (Sarpa) and Servicio Aéreo De Capurganá S.A. (Searca) are taking-over the flight routes left by the shut-down Aerolinea de Antioquia (ADA).

According to ACC, AASA will have two weekly flights from Medellin’s downtown Olaya Herrera (EOH) airport to-and-from El Bagre, Acandi and Tolu.

Sarpa will have seven weekly flights to-and-from EOH to Bahía and Quibdó, as well as seven other weekly flights to-and-from EOH to Nuquí, Quibdó and Pereira.

As for Searca, it will offer twice-weekly flights to-and-from EOH and Acandí, three weekly flights to-and-from EOH and El Bagre; seven weekly flights to-and-from EOH and Montelíbano; and two weekly flights to-and-from EOH and Tolú.

The new flight services will “guarantee the connectivity of travelers that move to and from the department of Antioquia that formerly used ADA,” said Aeronautica director Juan Carlos Salazar.

“We will continue working to motivate the entry of other operators that facilitate mobility in this region of the country,” Salazar added.

Published in general news Written by July 11 2019 0

Medellin and its neighboring suburbs expanded “pico y placa” driving restrictions on all conventional combustion-engine cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles to nine hours daily for the week of March 2-9, 2019, because of worsening air pollution.

The only personal transport vehicles exempted from such driving restrictions are electric cars, along with Medellin’s “Metro” electrified railcar system, the expanding “Metrocable” electric-powered aerial tram system, an incipient electric-powered roadway tram system, the upcoming expansion of pure-electric “Metroplus” electric buses this year, and free zero-emissions bicycles at Metro rail stations.

What’s more, Medellin debuted its first all-electric taxicab on March 3 -- right on the heels of the debut of the “Line M” Villa Hermosa-Buenos Aires aerial tram debut February 28.

“Line M,” serving 350,000 people in northeastern districts, is the fifth aerial-tram system now operating in Medellin, with a sixth coming in a few more months.

All these moves are further signs of the upcoming conversion to zero-emissions transport modes for Medellin -- and likely for many other global cities facing air-pollution problems.

On the taxi front, the “Tax Belén” cab company debuted its first BYD all-electric cab this month – exempt from “pico y placa” driving restrictions.

Medellin hopes to see as many as 1,500 electric taxis over the next few years, but the relatively high cost of acquisition compared to conventional gasoline-powered taxis is the key sticking point (see Medellin Herald 09/27/2018)

“Tax Belen, one of the largest taxi companies in Medellín with more than 2,300 cabs, will be in charge of operating public service cars, while BYD will provide after-sales service and will contribute its experience as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of electric vehicles,” according to BYD.

“Fuel savings compared to other combustion vehicles will be approximately 70% and operating costs will be 50% lower than natural-gas or gasoline taxis,” according to BYD.

BYD claims that range-between recharge should be around 400 kilometers and fast-charge stations can recharge the vehicle in 90 minutes.

Published in general news Written by July 11 2019 0

Industrias Estra Full-Year 2018 Profits Improve Year-on-Year

Medellin-based plastic container manufacturer Industrias Estra revealed in a March 28, 2019 filing with Colombia’s Superfinanciera corporate oversight agency that its full-year 2018 net income rose to COP$1.2 billion (US$379,000), up from COP$1 billion (US$316,000) in 2017.

Sales were flat year-on-year, at COP$68.9 billion (US$22 million), while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) dipped to COP$4.1 billion (US$1.3 million), down from COP$5.1 billion (US$1.6 million) in 2017.

The company’s sales and profits generally followed macroeconomic trends in Colombia during 2018, according to Estra. First-half 2018 sales were depressed by uncertainty over national elections, but consumer and industrial confidence rebounded when moderate-conservative Ivan Duque won the presidency over socialist-populist rival Gustavo Petro.

As a result, Estra’s second-half 2018 sales rose to COP$36.3 billion (US$11.5 million), up from $34.8 billion (US$11 million) in the comparable second-half of 2017.

Export sales were a bright spot for Estra, up 17% year-on-year, “thanks to the opening of new markets” including restoration of free-market policies in neighboring Ecuador -- due to the 2017 election of market-friendly President Lenin Moreno, who replaced vitriolic socialist-populist former President Rafael Correa.

In the Colombian domestic consumer-products market, Estra’s 2018 unit sales were flat year-on-year through its proprietary retail outlets, although average sales ticket grew. While industrial sales dipped 9% year-on-year, second-half 2018 industrial sales improved over the first half, the company 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.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

Contact US

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Medellin Herald: Find news, information, reviews and opinion on business, events, conferences, congresses, education, real estate, investing, retiring and more.
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  •  www.medellinherald.com 
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  • Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia

Medellín Photo Galery

Medellin, contrasting colors and styles by Gabriel Buitrago

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