Mining industry sparkles, to end year on high note

The Philippine Star
Mining industry sparkles, to end year on high note
DENR Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said the mining industry would have a “quite positive” performance this year.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) sees a promising mining industry performance, with output expected to end on a high note by yearend.

DENR Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said the mining industry would have a “quite positive” performance this year.

“It’s very promising, as you know, for this year. We don’t have the figures for the final semester yet (but as early as) the first semester, we have noticed the uptick already in revenues,” she said.

Latest data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) showed the country’s metallic mineral production remained upbeat as output expanded by nearly 30 percent as of end-September due to higher output and prices of nickel and gold.

Production value rose by 29.21 percent to P175.61 billion from January to September this year. This was driven by bullish metal prices of nickel ore and gold as well as higher output of gold, silver, chromite and iron ore during the period.

Prices of nickel ore jumped by 47.21 percent to $11.97 per pound.

Gold also saw a 1.36 percent increase in prices from $1,801.97 per troy ounce to $1,826.47 year-on-year, based on the Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas (BSP) bulletin.

MGB data showed nickel ore together with its nickel by-products – mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide (MNCS) and scandium oxalate – continued to have the largest share at 49.4 percent, contributing P86.94 billion.

Gold came in second, cornering 38.32 percent and raking in P67.45 billion.

Copper took the third spot,  accounting for 10.79 percent, with a value of P19 billion.

The collective value of silver, chromite and iron ore contributed about 1.49 percent of the total at P2.63 billion – the first time that the joint values of these three commodities exceeded the P1-billion mark.

To sustain this growth, the DENR said it was looking closely at small-scale mining and the policies that need updating.

As of August, the country had 53 Minahang Bayan  – 17 in Luzon, three in the Visayas and 33 in Mindanao.

DENR Undersecretary for policy, planning and international affairs and spokesperson Jonas Leones said small-scale mining is not accounted for in the MGB report.

“What we have is the large scale, but for the small scale, there’s no accounting. There’s also no social protection, and we don’t see where their output is sold. The scheme now is Minahang Bayan so that we can regulate them, we can protect them, we can assist them,” he said.

To develop small-scale mining, Loyzaga said the agency plans to adopt a big brother, small brother approach.

“We’re hoping that some of the large companies can help us with the social protection and environmental protection side for the small-scale miners,” she said.

“These are where we need to concentrate [on] because, as you know, there are needs as far as the Minahang Bayan process is concerned, especially in the protection of our small-scale miners. There’s also an aspect to environmental protection because as you know small-scale miners are only allowed to use certain artisanal tools,” Loyzaga said.

The DENR is also working with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization to help shift away from the use of mercury in the small-scale mining areas.

The agency also cited the need for a collaboration and close cooperation with local government to further develop Minahang Bayan.

“We are very keen to actually expand the conversation with DILG, especially with their local chief executives because they are at the forefront of the Minahang Bayan practice,” Loyzaga said.


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