Mine output rises 36% to P49 billion in 3 months

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The value of the country’s metallic production continued its double-digit growth in the first quarter of the year, driven by bullish metal prices and the increase in the mine output of gold, silver, and copper, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said.

Metallic mineral production value reached P48.61 billion, 36.2 percent higher than the previous year.

“Once again the bullish metal price during the period pushed the industry to this optimistic performance, coupled with the increase in the mine production of gold, silver, and copper,”the MGB said.

The average price of nickel registered a 59 percent year-on-year increase to $28,089.77 per metric ton (MT).

Similarly, average copper prices also registered an 18 percent year-on-year increase to $9,986.01 per MT, while the price of gold also increased by 4.05 percent to $1,874.91 per troy ounce.

“We are seeing prices of metals at heights way beyond their pre-pandemic levels,”the MGB said.

Gold accounted for the bulk of the total production value or 45.74 percent at P22.24 billion, up 29 percent from last year.

Production volume of gold increased by 15 percent to 7,137 kilos. Direct shipping nickel ore together with its nickel products, mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide, and scandium oxalate had the second largest contribution to the total metal output value with a 39.64 percent contribution at P19.27 billion.

Of the total, mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide accounted for more than half at P10.7 billion. This was followed by nickel direct shipping ore with P8.45 billion.

However, in terms of volume, nickel direct shipping ore had the largest contribution with a 3.7 million dry metric tons (DMT) production, a nine percent drop from the 7.06 million produced in the first quarter of last year.

In contrast, mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide registered 19,471 DMT in the first quarter, down by four percent from 20,239 DMT a year ago.

“For the rest of 2022 experts say that the demand for nickel will be fueled by the battery sector as battery producers and carmakers anticipate the transition to electric vehicles,” the MGB said.

Meanwhile, MGB data showed that copper had a 12.98 percent contribution to the total value of metal production at P6.31 billion, higher than the P3.33 billion registered in the first quarter of last year.

Copper production volume also increased to 64,841 DMT from 44,050 DMT last year.

The collective values of silver, iron ore, and chromite accounted for 1.64 percent of the total metal production at P0.8 billion.

Silver production volume rose to 21,673 kilos from 5,603 kilos.

The MGB has planned an 18-year roadmap that aims for the sustained development of the country’s minerals sector.

“This roadmap is divided into three phases: enhancing investors’ confidence in the mineral sector (2022-2024); expanding domestic ore production and mineral asset (2023-2030); and the Philippines to level-up to the global mineral markets in the field of semi-processed and fully processed mineral products (2026-2040),”the MGB said.

Under the first phase, the government has initiated enabling policies for the industry such as the issuance of Executive Order 130, which allows the government to enter into new mineral agreements and Department Administrative Order 2021-40 issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which lifts the ban on open-pit mining.

“In addition, the Bureau is also stirring towards the following activities: expanding the collection of geosciences and mineral information database both onshore and offshore; identifying new mineral reserves; and design mineral extraction to minimize environmental footprint,” the MGB said.

Under the second phase of the roadmap, the government targets to increase and attract mineral/mining-related investment to build up the national economy.

“This would mean an expansion of the production capacity of existing mining projects and the entry of new players. Other specific programs under this phase are to bid out national government mining assets under the Privatization Management Office and Philippine Mining Development Corp. within three years,” the MGB said referring to Basay Mining Corp., Maricalum Mining and Nonoc Mining and Industrial Corp. as some of the government mining assets to be bid out.

The third phase aims to upgrade the Philippines to the global mineral markets in the field of semi-processed and fully processed mineral products.

Under this phase, specific programs include the mandate of the establishment of mineral smelting and refining facilities, iron making industry, and nickel refineries this move is to expand the export of value-added mineral products; conduct research on the re-use of mining waste and tailings for other industrial use, mine rehabilitation, and acid mine drainage management using the Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences fund under the Social Development and Management Program; and Build-up technical capacity both in the government institutions and private sector.

During the third phase, the government anticipates a full-blown downstream sector and the establishment and expansion of the upstream sector of the minerals industry.

“All things considered, the proper implementation of this roadmap would translate to growth in investment, trade, revenue, and employment opportunities,” the MGB said.

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