News

Construction

Philippine Resources - September 22, 2021

North-South Commuter Railway extension to use Japan’s energy efficient trains

The Japan-funded North-South Commuter Railway Extension (NSCR-Ex) project has began construction, the Japanese Embassy in Manila said Tuesday. Last September 18, Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko personally joined Transportation Undersecretary Timothy Batan and ADB Director General Ramesh Subramaniam during a joint site inspection at Clark International Airport Station in Pampanga, marking the start of construction for the NSCR Extension project (NSCR-Ex). Two extension lines will be constructed under NSCR-Ex, the 51-kilometer "North" extension that runs from Malolos in Bulacan to Clark International Airport in Pampanga, and the 55-km "South" extension from Solis, Manila to Calamba, Laguna. Apart from alleviating traffic congestion, the Embassy said the project aims to mitigate the effects of pollution and climate change by using Japan's energy efficient trains. Its technical aspects will also complement the ongoing NSCR Malolos to Tutuban Project that adopts Japanese technology on flood-resilient and anti-seismic design to withstand earthquakes. NSCR-Ex is jointly financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japanese government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The yen loan will be allocated for the procurement of rolling stock and railway systems as well as consulting services, while the ADB loan funds will be allocated for civil works. In January 2019, the Philippines signed the JPY167.199 billion loan agreement with JICA for the NSCR-Ex. It is one of the key infrastructure projects supported by Japan under the Philippine government's Build, Build, Build program.

Industry

Philippine Resources - September 22, 2021

Power firm launches multi-sectoral movement for carbon-neutral PH

Photo credit: Mike Gonzalez - Southern Negros geothermal plant, Negros Oriental, Philippines  Racing against time to address the worsening climate change crisis, multi-sectoral representatives have joined a movement initiated by geothermal power leader Energy Development Corporation (EDC) aimed at attaining zero carbon emissions among businesses in the country. EDC, the country’s largest renewable energy producer owned by First-Gen, which operates the 222.5MW Southern Negros Geothermal Plant in Valencia, Negros Oriental, spearheads the movement dubbed Net Zero Carbon Alliance, a media release from the power utility said Tuesday. Launched virtually on Monday, the movement pushes for the country to become carbon neutral, in line with the Department of Energy’s goal to reduce emissions by as much as 75 percent. This is part of the government’s Nationally Determined Contributions to the landmark global United Nations’ Paris climate change agreement or COP 21 (Conference of the Parties). “We are putting into action our revitalized mission in the Lopez Group to ‘forge collaborative pathways for a decarbonized and regenerative future’ by seeking partnerships and synergies with fellow enterprises in the country,” EDC president and chief operating officer Richard B. Tantoco was quoted as saying. The Net Zero Carbon Alliance Program aims to “provide partners with a roadmap to attain carbon neutrality through the sharing of best practices and scaling up of carbon emission offsetting and tracking, as well as assistance in obtaining third-party certification of carbon emissions and offsets, and even access to “green” financing, among many other capacity-building tools,” EDC said in its media release. Partners in the carbon-neutral alliance will be guided by EDC’s experience as a carbon-negative company through its 100 percent renewable energy operations and the protection and restoration of the forests within its geothermal project sites. Partners can also adopt practices from EDC decarbonization mechanisms. The pioneering members of the Net Zero Carbon Alliance include homegrown enterprises ArthaLand property developer, Lopez Group affiliate First Balfour construction company, Drink sustainability communications agency, Silliman University, as well as the local operations of multinational firms Analog Devices, Coca-Cola, Knowles Electronics, and Unilever.     “We are extremely excited with the enthusiastic participation of our partners and we are looking forward to working with more and more enterprises in the local business sector as we move toward our common goal of mitigating the global challenge of climate change,” Tantoco said. EDC is the country’s biggest 100-percent renewable energy (RE) company that accounts for over 40 percent of the Philippines’ RE output and serves about 10 percent of the country’s overall electricity demand with its installed capacity of almost 1,500 megawatts (MW). Its 1,181MW geothermal portfolio accounts for 62 percent of the country’s total installed geothermal capacity and has put the Philippines on the map as the world’s third largest geothermal power producer. By Mary Judaline Partlow   Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency

Construction

Philippine Resources - September 22, 2021

DPWH SIGNS 2 HISTORIC AGREEMENTS WITH BARMM

Photo credit: The Department of Public Works and Highways The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has re-affirmed its support to the government of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) with the signing of two (2) agreements at DPWH Central Office in Manila. DPWH Secretary Mark Villar and Ministry of Public Works (MPW)-BARMM Minister Eduard U. Guerra signed on Monday, September 20, 2021 the memorandum of agreement (MOA) to turn-over the DPWH Cotabato City District Engineering Office to the auspices of the BARMM and the interim implementation arrangements/protocols of various infrastructure projects of the national government in Bangsamoro. Other signatories as witnesses of these agreements are DPWH Undersecretary for Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Operations Emil K. Sadain who is also the Focal Person for BARMM Infra Projects and alternate representative in the Inter-Agency Task Force Bangon Marawi, and MPW-BARMM Director General Danilo A. Ong. The event was also attended by MPW-BARMM Deputy Minister Abdul Maomit M. Tomawis and DPWH Region 12 Legal Division Chief Atty. Jahara Ali-Macadato while others participated virtually via zoom including Bangsamoro Government Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim and Senior Minister Abdulraof A. Macacua; DPWH Undersecretaries Ardeliza R. Medenilla and Eugenio R. Pipo Jr.; DPWH Assistant Secretary Ador Canlas; Assistant Secretary Wilben M. Mayor of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process; DPWH UPMO Project Directors; DPWH Regional Directors in Regions 9, 10 and 12; MPW District Engineers; and other Bangsamoro parliament members. With the inclusion of Cotabato City under BARMM, DPWH officially transfer the DPWH Cotabato City District Engineering Office land, building, equipment, and assets located in Barrio Kakar, Cotabato City to the jurisdiction of MPW-BARMM pursuant to Republic Act 11054 or An Act Providing for the Organic Law for the BARMM. However, a Project Management Office (PMO) for Maguindanao is created to handle implementation of various DPWH national projects within the Province of Maguindanao inclusive of Cotabato City. The other agreement covers the two (2)-year implementation arrangements/protocols of infrastructure projects of the national government in the BARMM. Under the interim implementation arrangement, the DPWH is tasked to lead in the identification of various national infrastructure projects in BARMM, in coordination with MPW. The MPW may recommend and initiate request of proposed flagship projects directly to the BARMM government parliament for funding and consideration. DPWH is however required to furnish MPW copies of all approved report/studies, plans, annual procurement plan, procurement monitoring report, and list of contracts awarded with name of contractor of all DPWH projects in BARMM. MPW shall also be notified and invited as observers in pre-bid conferences, pre-construction conference of DPWH projects in BARMM and be assisted in capability development in matters related to procurement. Quarterly coordination meeting shall also be conducted between two (2) parties for the evaluation of the projects under the national government. During the construction, the DPWH Regional Office or PMO that will handle the direct implementation of all national infra for BARMM funded by the General Appropriations Act (GAA) shall furnish project progress to MPW, and invite the latter on final inspection of projects. The MPW may conduct an independent project monitoring of completed projects. The maintenance of national roads and bridges shall also be under the national government in close coordination with the BARMM. Minor maintenance works and emergency/disaster response in BARMM can be delegated by the DPWH to the MPW through a separate MOA. On foreign-assisted projects, DPWH-UPMO headed by Undersecretary Sadain shall remain the lead in coordination with MPW. This interim agreement is effective for a period of two (2) years upon approval or until such time that the Regional Project Management Office and PMOs for Bangsamoro are created and fully-operationalized.   Article courtesy of The Department of Public Works and Highways

Mining

Philippine Resources - September 20, 2021

OCEANAGOLD PROVIDES OPERATIONS UPDATE INCLUDING DIDIPIO RESTART

Photo credit: OceanaGold Scott Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer and Acting Chief Executive Officer of OceanaGold said, “The recommencement of Didipio operations is progressing ahead of plan. The recruitment of the workforce is ahead of schedule as we expect approximately 65% of the total workforce to be in place by the end of the third quarter and approximately 90% by the end of the year. Training of the workforce is progressing well ahead of the restart of processing and mining activities expected in the fourth quarter. The health and safety of our employees and local communities is paramount and we continue to manage the ongoing risks and personnel impacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.” He went on to say, “During August, we successfully exported and sold the remaining gold Doré, while also commencing the transport of gold-copper concentrate inventory stored on site. As at September 10, approximately 6,000 dry metric tonnes of the total concentrate in inventory has been delivered to port ahead of shipping. The Company expects approximately 80% of the concentrate to be transported to the port by the end of the third quarter and entirely transported by mid-October.” The gold-copper concentrate inventory totalled approximately 15,000 dry metric tonnes, which contains approximately 18,500 ounces of gold and 3,500 tonnes of copper. Additionally, the Company had nearly 1,100 ounces of gold in Doré, which has been sold in the third quarter. To-date the Company has invoiced approximately $25 million in net concentrate sales. The Company expects to have completed the transport and sale of all concentrate inventory by mid-October and to have collected 90% of the invoiced value progressively over a similar time frame. The final 10% is payable on delivery of concentrate to the customers smelter based on final assay. Transportation of supplies and equipment to the Didipio Mine site have progressed well. Process plant recommissioning is over one-third complete with restart activities including but not limited to installation of a new ball mill motor, ongoing recommissioning of the crusher, recharge of grinding media and testing and commissioning of plant instrumentation and pumping equipment. The Company expects the restart of milling on stockpiled ore by the middle of November. The Didipio operation currently has approximately 23 million tonnes of stockpiled ore grading at 0.33 g/t gold and 0.3% copper. Upon restart of underground mining operations, mill feed will be progressively supplemented by higher grade underground ore. Underground mining restart activities include the rehiring and training of underground operators is progressing to plan. The Company has completed initial rehabilitation of ore drives, geotechnical inspections, installation and testing of ventilation infrastructure and technical plans. Ore development is expected by the end of October while stoping is scheduled for the end of November. The Company is expecting to ramp-up to the full underground production rate of 1.6 million tonnes per annum within ten months The capital expenditure associated with the restart of operations is expected to range between $5 to $7 million for the remainder of the year. This expenditure will be funded through the net proceeds associated with the sale of the gold-copper concentrate in 2021. For the remainder of 2021, the Company expects to produce between 5,000 and 10,000 ounces of gold along with approximately 1,000 tonnes of copper. The Company expects Didipio gold sales for 2021 to range between 23,000 and 28,000 ounces of gold and between 3,500 and 4,500 tonnes of copper. Didipio All-In Sustaining Costs are expected to range between $300 and $400 per ounce sold with cash costs of $200 to $300 per ounce sold. At full operations, the Didipio mine is expected to produce approximately 10,000 ounces of gold and 1,000 tonnes of copper per month. The Company is working in partnership with the local municipal health office to support vaccination efforts, including sourcing additional vaccines for the Didipio workforce and surrounding communities. Social development projects have also re-commenced for Didipio’s beneficiary communities, which includes COVID-19 relief efforts as well as significant investment in programs that improve health, education, infrastructure, and capacity building within the local and adjacent communities. The successful and uninterrupted restart of Didipio reflects strong endorsement from both the community and National Government. Didipio is a meaningful socio-economic contributor to Barangay of Didipio, adjacent communities and provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino, and the region. The Company looks forward to continuing its legacy of responsible mining in the Philippines and contributing to the post COVID-19 economy. Macraes 2021 guidance is revised to 135,000 to 145,000 gold ounces at an AISC of $1,300 to $1,350 and a cash cost of $900 to $950 per ounce sold. The change is due to the production impact of the fifteen-day New Zealand wide level 4 COVID-19 lockdown and subsequent ramp-up, combined with the management of ongoing geotechnical risk limiting the operations ability to fully access higher grade zones as planned later in 2021. Waihi operations were also suspended for fifteen-days in accordance with New Zealand’s level 4 COVID-19 restrictions. As previously advised, operations resumed following the easing of restrictions with the impact of the suspension on 2021 production of approximately 5,000 ounces. With the site mine constrained, the reduction is driven by lower 2021 ore production with the deferred ore zones being higher grade. Waihi is now tracking toward the lower end of its production guidance range of 35,000 to 45,000 gold ounces at an AISC of $1,300 to $1,350 and a cash cost of $900 to $950 per ounce sold. The Company, however remains focussed on identifying potential opportunities to partially offset the impact over the balance of 2021. At Haile, the Company continues to advance technical reviews and focus on mine and mill productivity and operating cost improvements. Recent operational performance continues to comfortably track to full year guidance of 160,000 to 170,000 ounces of gold at an AISC of $1,100 to $1,150 per ounce sold and a cash cost of $850 to $900 per ounce sold. Development of the Haile Underground is expected to commence following completion of the Supplementary Environment Impact Statement process. On a consolidated basis, after the inclusion of Didipio, the Company continues to expect full year production to be 350,000 to 370,000 gold ounces at an AISC of $1,200 to $1,250 and cash costs of $825 to $875 per ounce sold. With the inclusion of Doré and concentrate inventory sales from Didipio, consolidated gold ounces sold for 2021 are expected to be approximately 20,000 ounces higher than production.   Article courtesy of OceanaGold

Mining

Philippine Resources - September 20, 2021

Global nickel production to recover by 6.8% in 2021, supported by Indonesia and the Philippines, says GlobalData

Photo credit: GlobalData Global nickel mine production is expected to grow by 6.8% to reach 2,427.4 thousand tonnes (kt) in 2021, after registering an estimated 4.2% decline to 2,272kt in 2020, owing to COVID-19-related lockdowns and restrictions, says GlobalData. The leading data and analytics company notes that output from Indonesia (+16.3%), the Philippines (+5.1%) and Brazil (+24%) will be significant contributors to the overall growth this year. In contrast, production is expected to decline in Russia (-13.8%), and South Africa (-15.8%). Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, comments: “Combined production from Indonesia, the Philippines and Brazil is expected to increase from a collective 1,160kt in 2020 to 1,316.8kt in 2021 – an increase of 13.5%. The increase in production will be supported by the expansion of Indonesia’s nickel industry, the resumption of production at various mines in the Philippines and the ramp up at the Santa Rita mine in Brazil, which was previously halted in 2015. “Overall, Indonesia and the Philippines will remain as the largest sources of nickel globally. Together with Russia, New Caledonia and Australia, these five countries account for almost three-quarters of the global total.” Looking ahead, nickel production over the forecast period is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3%, to reach 2,730.6kt in 2025. Indonesia, Russia, Canada and the Philippines will be the key contributors to this growth. Combined production in these countries is expected to increase from a forecasted 1,607kt in 2021 to 1,818.4kt in 2025. Bajaj continues: “Projects with potential to commence operations during the forecast period include the Araguaia Nickel project in Brazil, which is wholly owned by Horizonte Minerals, and is currently awaiting a final investment decision (FID). The US$402.1m project will have an annual nickel production capacity of 14.5kt and is expected to commence operations in 2022. During early 2021, the project’s infrastructure including the award of construction licences for the transmission line and the water pipeline were approved by the company. Tenders for the supply of key equipment and services have been completed for approximately US$230m.” The Aquila Nickel project in Indonesia, which is wholly owned by Solway Investment Group, has obtained its regulatory approvals and permissions. The US$57m project will have an annual nickel production capacity of 16.6kt and is expected to commence operations in 2023.   Article courtesy of GlobalData

Construction

Philippine Resources - September 20, 2021

PNR Clark Phase 2 to spur economic recovery in Central Luzon

Photo Credit: Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Ltd Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade has assured that once it is operational, the PNR Clark Phase 2 of the North-South Commuter Rail Project (NSCR) project will create needed jobs and spur economic recovery in Central Luzon amid the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. “The DOTr, in all of its projects, has always aimed to revitalize the country’s economy. A transport infrastructure project like the NSCR will spur economic growth in Central Luzon, particularly the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga,” Tugade said in a news release on Sunday. The NSCR System is the single largest infrastructure project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and is the longest greenfield commuter railway project to be financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). It is also the biggest project to be undertaken so far under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program of the Duterte Administration with a total cost of PHP777.55-billion. It is one of the key infrastructure railway projects supported by Japan, in addition to the Metro Manila Subway and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 Rehabilitation projects. The PNR Clark Phase 2 is a 53 kilometer-rail line under the NSCR that will connect Malolos, Bulacan to Clark, Pampanga. Tugade said once operational, PNR Clark Phase 2 will improve transport connectivity and mobility across the Central Luzon and spur various employment in various sectors. “The Malolos to Clark Railway of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) aims to cut travel time between Malolos, Bulacan and Clark, Pampanga, from 1.5 to 2 hours, to just 30-35 minutes. It also features the country’s first-ever Airport Railway Express Service, which will connect Makati to the Clark International Airport in just 55 minutes, from the current 2-3 hours,” Tugade said. PNR Clark Phase 2 will have six train stations, namely, Calumpit, Apalit, San Fernando, Angeles, Clark, and Clark Airport. The rail stations will include multimodal facilities that will allow seamless transfer of commuters from public utility vehicles to trains.   Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency

Construction

Philippine Resources - September 20, 2021

PH's 1st airport underground railway to unlock growth in C. Luzon

 The Philippine North Railway (PNR) project inside this Freeport, which will feature the country’s first-ever airport railway express service, will unlock economic growth and the employment potentials of Central Luzon, especially Bulacan and Pampanga, under the “Build, Build, Build” project, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Saturday. Tugade, who inspected the excavation of the airport underground railway in front of the new terminal building of the Clark International Airport (CRK), said the project would generate direct and indirect employment opportunities for locals, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and transport workers affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. “Sa katunayan, mahigit 7,000 direct jobs ang nabuksan sa construction phase ng PNR Clark Phase 2, at inaasahang 3,000 job opportunities pa ang magbubukas oras na maging operational ito. Samantala, inaasahang higit 25,000 direct job opportunities ang hatid ng buong North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) line during construction, at 10,000 jobs naman ang maidadagdag oras na mabuksan na ito (In fact, more than 7,000 direct jobs have been opened in the construction phase of PNR Clark Phase 2, and it is expected that 3,000 job opportunities will open when it becomes operational. Meanwhile, more than 25,000 direct jobs are expected to open during the construction of the entire NSCR line, and 10,000 jobs will be added by the time it opens),” Tugade said in an official social media account post. Joining Tugade during the inspection were provincial government officials and representatives of the Japan International Cooperation Agency and Asian Development Bank. The underground train station of the PNR inside Clark is part of the 53-km. PNR Clark Phase 2 (Malolos-Clark segment) project. Tugade said once operational, PNR Clark 2 will cut travel time from Malolos, Bulacan to Clark, Pampanga from 1.5 hours to 2 hours to just 30 minutes to 35 minutes. It has six stations – Calumpit, Apalit, San Fernando, Angeles, Clark, and CRK. This project is part of the massive 147-km. NSCR, which will have 35 stations, and shall operate 464 train cars, with 58 eight-car train sets configuration. As of July 2021, PNR Clark Phase 2 recorded an overall progress rate of 32 percent, while PNR Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban to Malolos segment), is now 48-percent complete.

Construction

Philippine Resources - September 20, 2021

VILLAR INSPECT SOON-TO-OPEN VIADUCT COMPONENT OF BGC-ORTIGAS ROAD LINK PROJECT

Photo Credit: Department of Public Works and Highways Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar on Friday, September 17, 2021 checked the progress of the viaduct crossing Kalayaan Avenue, Makati City towards Bonifacio Global City’s 8th Avenue in Taguig City. Secretary Villar said that the viaduct is the last segment to complete the entire 1.48-kilometer Bonifacio Global City (BGC)-Ortigas Center Road Link Project implemented by DPWH Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Roads Management Cluster 1. The DPWH Secretary was accompanied in the inspection activity before its targetted opening this end of the month by Underscretary for UPMO Operations Emil K. Sadain, UPMO RMC 1 Project Director Benjamin A. Bautista, Project Manager Ricarte Mañalac and Project Engineer Emmanuel Regodon, and Engr. Reynaldo Perez of Persan Construction Inc. “I am grateful for the dedication of our engineers and workers on the ground undertaking round-the-clock construction, rain or shine, to ensure we meet our target opening of the final viaduct segment of BGC-Ortigas Center Road Link Project”, added Secretary Villar. On orders of Secretary Villar, all efforts are currently underway to finish BGC-Ortigas Center Road Link Project - Phase 2 or the Lawton Avenue to Global City Viaduct this September, said Undersecretary Sadain. Undersecretary Sadain reported that with the current pace of works coupled with favorable weather condition, we are right-on-track to complete the project which will significantly benefit motorists between the commercial business districts of BGC and Ortigas Center. The first phase of BGC-Ortigas Center Road Link Project dubbed Kalayaan Bridge was opened in June 12 and now connects Brgy. Sta. Monica, Pasig City and Kalayaan Avenue, Makati City. This infrastructure flagship project under the build, build, build program will reduce travel time between BGC and Ortigas to just 12 minutes and will be able to help decongest as much as 20 percent traffic volume from the busy Epifano delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) and C-5 Road.   Article courtesy of The Department of Public Works and Highways

Company

Philippine Resources - September 15, 2021

Weir Minerals strengthens its partnership with international technology group, Andritz

Weir Minerals and Andritz have signed an agreement at MINExpo 2021 expanding their shared commitment and strategic cooperation to supply equipment for processing tailings in the mining industry. The foundations of this agreement have been built on a shared understanding and vision to enable the sustainable and efficient delivery of the natural resources essential to create a better future for the world. Since 2018, Weir Minerals’ and Andritz’s partnership has seen them collaborate on joint tailings projects. This shared history as partners – a collaboration made stronger by the quality of individuals on both teams – has reinforced their abiding belief that together, both Weir Minerals and Andritz are stronger. This shared success has led both Weir Minerals and Andritz to renew their on-going commitment and announce they’ll be expanding their offer to all regions around the globe.   Utilising Andritz’s proven separation and dewatering technologies, Weir Minerals has strengthened its whole-of-mine capabilities, showcasing market-leading products from extraction to comminution, mill circuit and tailings management. ‘Weir Minerals has been providing tailings solutions for decades; we have dedicated research facilities – the Weir Technical Centre in Melbourne, Australia and the Sustainable Mining Centre in Venlo, Netherlands – that are challenging conventional ways of thinking about tailings, while also developing practical, innovative and sustainable solutions that will reduce operating costs and improve safety,’ Ricardo Garib, Weir Minerals Division President said. ‘Decreasing ore grades mean that mines are producing more tailings than ever before. One of the challenges with tailings management is that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach; each mine requires a tailored solution that carefully considers the minerals being processed, as well as the site’s climatic and geological conditions. Weir Minerals prides itself on having both the expertise and equipment that allows us to partner with miners everywhere to plan and implement tailings solutions based on their operations’ unique challenges and this agreement with Andritz enhances those capabilities,’ he said. ‘Andritz has a long history working across a range of different industries. We are very proud of the work we’ve done with Weir Minerals; together, we’re excited about continuing to provide a joint offering of sustainable and value-added tailings solutions. Both companies bring a different expertise and know-how to the partnership; we complement one another and ultimately it’s our customers who’ll benefit,’ Steve Huff, President Andritz Separation said. Tailings management forms an important element of Weir Minerals’ broader integrated solutions approach, which considers problems and challenges from all perspective and draws on a range of experts – process engineers, design engineers, product experts and materials scientists, among others – to identify potential challenges and opportunities and provide tailored solutions. ‘This latest agreement enhances our overall tailings offering and enables us to provide our customers with a complete tailings solution. Under the brand name IsoDry, we will continue to offer customers a range of mechanical separation technologies, such as thickeners, filter presses, centrifuges, and vacuum belt filters,’ Charlie Stone, Weir Minerals VP Sales and Business Development-Mill Circuit said. Weir Minerals has strengthened its tailings team to support the market and ensure that it can provide innovative solutions based on each customer’s specific requirements. The agreement provides the opportunity for potential future collaboration on technology, harnessing Andritz’s market-leading separation technology in conjunction with Weir Minerals’ minerals and tailings processing technology. Many of these products – Warman® pumps to transport fluid tailings, GEHO® pumps to handle paste, Cavex® hydrocyclones to dewater tailings and the Multiflo® range of dewatering solutions – have been integral to helping miners manage their waste for generations. Weir Minerals and Andritz have also reiterated their shared commitment to sustainability; it is an essential part of both their business and corporate strategies. Both companies have outlined ambitious plans to reduce their carbon emissions, while their approach to ESG initiatives extends to all aspects of their organisations.  ‘Shareholders and stakeholders are rightfully demanding more sustainable mining practices and tailings management is an area where there’s a lot of scope for improvement. Weir Minerals wants to play a central role in changing how the industry thinks about and manages tailings. Ultimately, we believe that sustainable solutions are not only environmentally beneficial, but also reduce operating costs and minimise risk,’ David Almond, Weir Minerals Global Director, Product Management Process said.  ‘Weir strives to make our customers more sustainable and efficient; it’s core to our purpose and at the heart of what we do. We believe that embedding sustainability throughout our organisation protects and creates long-term value for our stakeholders and secures the long-term future of Weir. Our approach to tailings management is an extension of our broader corporate strategy. There is scope to make long-lasting, impactful change in how the mining sector thinks about and manages tailings and Weir is proud to be one of the industry leaders,’ Jon Stanton, Weir Group Chief Executive said. 

Construction

Philippine Resources - September 15, 2021

Quezon-Bicol Expressway ‘transport backbone’ for Bicol Region

The House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved on final reading a measure mandating the construction of Quezon-Bicol Expressway (QUBEX) as an "integrated transport and economic development strategy” for the Bicol Region. With 238 affirmative votes, the chamber passed on third reading House Bill 9988, which mandates the construction of the expressway that will have an indicative length of approximately 220 kilometers and will be an alternative option of travel between Quezon and the Bicol provinces. The project will start at Pagbilao, Quezon, and will end at existing Maharlika Highway in San Fernando, Camarines Sur. Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, one of the authors of the bill, said the “lack of backbone transport infrastructure has its impacts on the lives of our people especially during this pandemic", noting that Bicol has suffered some of the highest inflation levels in the country during the current coronavirus crisis. Salceda said the inflation rate for Bicol was 6.5 percent, 2.5 percent higher than the July national average this year. “Transportation is one of the key drivers [of inflation]. Our region saw transport inflation reach an eye-popping 13 percent in July. Food also continues to be expensive and is higher than the regional inflation at 6.6 percent. This is a direct result of the fact that it is expensive to transport to the Bicol Region, the expense coming mostly from travel time," he said. Salceda said currently, overland travel to Bicol could take as much as 13 hours, with an almost certain need for stopovers that make land transport expensive. "With QUBEX, we expect to reduce travel time to just five hours, which would make Bicol around as close to Manila as Baguio or Ilocos are," he said. “The subsequent saving in time and fuel would help lower food, transport, and logistics costs in Bicol, and would make us competitive for business." Salceda said QUBEX can be an integrated transport and economic development strategy for the region, highlighting that it is a transshipment point for the southeastern portion of the country from Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) down to Eastern Mindanao. "So, we need a comprehensive transport strategy for Bicol. If you can bisect Bicol with an expressway, restore and improve the train lines, begin operating the international airport in Daraga, and also connect both the Pacific and the country’s inland ports in Bicol, you create plenty of opportunities to save on transport costs,” Salceda said. He said QUBEX will be an essential part of the interspatial transport backbone, considering that Bicol is a leading tourist destination “QUBEX will be as important as Bicol Express was in the past. We need it.” Salceda said, referring to the train lines that connected Legazpi City with Manila.

Construction

Philippine Resources - September 14, 2021

DPWH READIES MACHINE TO WORK FOR DAVAO TWIN TUNNELS

Photo Credit: The Department of Public Works and Highways The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are now preparing the specialized equipment to work for the Davao twin tunnels, a key component of the 45.5 kilometer Davao City Bypass Road Project in Southern Mindanao. Secretary Mark Villar said that the arrival of several equipment on site in Davao City signals a more intensified excavation activities in the next coming days for the tunnel’s north and south portal. The entire Davao City Bypass Road Project that will begin in Barangay Sirawan, Toril, Davao City and will end at Barangay J.P. Laurel, Panabo City will improve the transport logistics in Davao Region, added Secretary Villar. In his report to Secretary Villar, DPWH Undersecretary for Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Operations Emil K. Sadain said that the first blast using drill machine to excavate two (2)-tube mountain tunnel is targetted by this early last quarter of 2021. Our contractor is almost ready with their tunnel diggers as DPWH UPMO team is looking forward to the commissioning of tunnelling equipment to excavate the 2.3 kilometer mountain tunnel, Undersecretary Sadain reported following an on-site inspection and project coordination meeting with the contractors and consultants on Sunday, September 12, 2021 in Davao City. A demonstration run by the horizontal boring machine for geotechnical investigation at the north portal in Barangay Waan and a walk thru at the south portal and equipment yard in Barangay Matina Biao was conducted during the inspection of Undersecretary Sadain with UPMO Roads Management Cluster 1 (RMC 1 - Bilateral) Project Director Benjamin A. Bautista, Project Manager Joselito B. Reyes, Engr. Earl Nicholas F. Rada, and Engr. Samuel Bayot. Photo Credit: The Department of Public Works and Highways The tunnel is part of the 10.7-kilometer four-lane highway under contract package 1-1 awarded to the joint venture companies of Shimizu Corporation, Ulticon Builders Inc., and Takenaka Civil Engineering & Construction Co, Ltd. Implemented by DPWH UPMO RMC 1, the Davao City Bypass Road Project is under construction supervision service of consultancy firm of the joint venture Nippon Koei Co. Ltd., Katahira Engineering Inc. and Nippon Engineering Consultant together PhilKoei who are experts in several international tunneling projects like Japan. A total of 56 equipment from Japan, France and Korea are now available on site that includes two (2) batching plant at the north and south portal, and several tunneling equipment such as horizontal boring machine and tools, twin header base machine/crawler excavator, twin header attachment, erecter with shotcrete machine, drill jumbo, and tunnel ventilation and dust collector, wheel loader, truck mixers and water truck. Other equipment and materials, delayed by the unprecedented disruption to international shipping caused by COVID-19 pandemic, are expected to arrive on the tunnel site this last quarter. The two (2) tunnels to be constructed using New Austrian Tunneling Method or sequential excavation method and will have a diameter of 10 meters located at the central portion of the bypass road project. Aside from the twin tunnels, the contract package also covers the construction of bridges in three (3) locations (Matina 1, Matina 2, and Davao River) as well as a 7.9-kilometer four (4)-lane road, two (2) underpasses, two (2) overpasses, 12 box culverts for waterway, and four (4) at-grade intersection. The road project is financed by the Official Development Assistance (ODA) of the Government of Japan with Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP) Loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under Loan Agreement Nos. PH-P261 and PH-P273 signed in June 2020. As the project move forward, DPWH plan to engage more local workforce and create job opportunities for the communities along the alignment, added Undersecretary Sadain. The project is also expected to develop Filipino engineers and skilled workers with a new technical know-how on tunneling.   Article Courtesy of The Department of Public Works and Highways

Industry

Philippine Resources - September 09, 2021

DTI invites Japanese firms to invest in PH industries

Photo Credit: PhilStar Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez has urged Japanese firms to invest in the Philippines as opportunities for manufacturing, construction, and energy remain high despite the pandemic. In a virtual Philippine economic briefing for Japanese companies Tuesday, Lopez said Japanese investors may look into opportunities in the production of semiconductor and electronic goods, as well as manufacturing of medical devices. “(M)edical devices manufacturing is also a growing industry backed by the presence of supply chain for manufacturing such as tool and die, chemicals, semiconductors, plastics, and metal parts necessary in the production of medical devices and its parts,” he said. Lopez said as the government aims to build its healthcare facilities, demand for medical devices is expected to increase. “The local medical device market is projected to have a compound annual growth rate of 8.8 percent and would rise to USD884.3 million by (the) end of 2024,” he said. The DTI chief said Japanese firms likewise have a big market to tap in the domestic construction sector driven by the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, housing backlog, office space requirement, transport sector demand, supply chain industry, power demand, and demand for more healthcare facilities. Under the “Build, Build, Build” program, the government has a total of 119 infrastructure flagship projects. Japanese firms were also encouraged to look into opportunities in the residential sector as the housing backlog is expected to reach 12.4 million units by 2030, while the office market needs nearly 370,000 square meters of office spaces between 2021 and 2025. Lopez further said there is also growing demand in the transport sector, with transport infrastructure requiring investments amounting to USD100 billion for the next decade. With the growing economy, demand for power is also expected to increase. The local supply chain industry, on the other hand, requires investment amounting to PHP14.07 billion in the next 10 years, particularly investments for warehouses, cold storage facilities, container yards, and integrated logistics depots. With the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Lopez said there is an urgency to build more healthcare facilities in the country. “The Philippine health system is limited to cope with the growing number of confirmed and suspected cases. The current hospital bed-to-population ratio is at 1:984,” the top trade official said. In the first quarter of the year, Japan was the top source of investment pledges in investment promotion agencies amounting to USD215.36 million.

Company

Philippine Resources - September 08, 2021

Holmes steps down as OceanaGold CEO, COO Sullivan now acting chief

OceanaGold Corporation advises that Mr. Michael Holmes has resigned as the President and Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of the Company, as well as from the Board of Directors (the “Board”), effective September 8, 2021. The Board has engaged a leading executive search firm to commence a global search for the Company’s next President and CEO. In recognition of leadership continuity, the Board has appointed Mr. Scott Sullivan who has recently joined the Company as Chief Operating Officer, to act as the Acting President and CEO of the Company. Mr. Ian Reid, Chairman of the Board said “On behalf of the Board, I wish to extend my sincere thanks and gratitude to Michael for his service to the Company. Michael has had a long and valued career with OceanaGold, having joined the Company as Chief Operating Officer in July 2012. As President and CEO, he demonstrated tremendous resilience and commitment to the Company despite the challenges of an operating environment disrupted by the onset of a global pandemic.”  Mr. Reid continued to say, “Under Michael’s leadership, the Company delivered on key growth milestones including mine life extensions of the Macraes operation, advancement of the Waihi District projects and the Haile Underground. Most significantly, the renewal of the Didipio FTAA wouldn’t have been possible without Michael’s tenacious and focused leadership. The achievement of this strategic objective is expected to generate strong free cash flows for our shareholders while continuing our legacy as a responsible, multinational gold miner.” Mr. Holmes said, “It has been a privilege to serve the Company over the past 9 years. I am proud to have led a team of passionate and dedicated mining professionals who are committed to responsible mining and best ESG practices while setting up the business to deliver long-term value for shareholders. Whilst it was a difficult decision to leave OceanaGold, I am very proud of what we have achieved and more importantly in the significant value embedded in the business. I wish everyone all the best.” Mr. Scott Sullivan is a mining executive with over 30 years of broad-based industry experience spanning Australia, New Guinea, Africa and North America. More specifically, he has diversified experience in strategic planning of mining operations and smelters, project development and commissioning, mine optimisation, restructuring and expansion, sustainability and government relations. Prior to joining OceanaGold, Mr. Sullivan was CEO of Paladin Energy Ltd, and prior to that, General Manager of Newcrest’s Telfer Gold Mine, CEO of Attila Resources (now New Century Resources) and Managing Director of Minbos Resources. Mr. Sullivan is 2 also a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Mining with first class honours and a Master’s in Business Administration. Mr. Paul Benson, who will succeed Mr. Reid as Chairman of the Board of the Company on October 1, expressed his appreciation for Mr. Holmes’ leadership, particularly through the challenges posed by COVID-19. He said, “I look forward to working with Scott Sullivan in the Chief Operating Officer and Acting CEO roles. I have known Scott for over 30 years since we first worked together at the Renison Tin Mine in Tasmania. Scott is an exceptional mining engineer and has the skills and experience to drive OceanaGold’s operating performance to the next level. Our focus will continue to be on maximising the value of our existing operations while seeking new opportunities to drive profitable growth.” The Company continues to make good progress with respect to the Didipio restart with current ramp-up schedule ahead of original estimates. The Company commenced the trucking of gold-copper concentrate as several shipments have arrived at the port and several more on the way. The Company continues the technical review and enhancements of the Haile Mine however, operational performance is tracking to achieve full year guidance. The New Zealand operations have recommenced full operations with ramp-up of the Martha Underground continuing.

Mining

Philippine Resources - September 07, 2021

METALLIC PRODUCTION VALUE ADVANCES BY 24.50% IN H1 2021

 Metallic mineral production value advanced by 24.50% or PHP13.50 billion in H1 2021 from PhP55.13 billion to PhP68.63 billion, year-on-year. The telling factor for this sterling performance was the continued strong metal prices during the period. Prices of base metals, copper, and nickel grew by 65% and 40%, respectively. Likewise precious metals, gold, and silver went up by 10% and 59%, respectively. In terms of contribution to the metallic production value, nickel together with its nickel products accounted for 53.44% or PhP36.68 billion followed by gold with 34.84% or PhP23.91 billion. Copper took the third spot at PhP7.46 billion or 10.87% while the collective values of silver, iron ore, and chromite were less than 1% or PhP0.58 billion. Having bullish nickel metal price as its backdrop in H1 2021 nickel together with its nickel products continued to rule the production scene contributing more than 53% of the country’s production value from PhP25.17 billion to PhP36.68 billion year-on-year, a growth of almost PhP11.51 billion or 46%. Breaking it down further, nickel direct shipping ore accounted for 58% or PhP21.42 billion while mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide tendered 41% or PhP15.07 billion. Scandium oxalate came up with less than 1% or PhP0.19 billion. Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation (THPAL) produces both mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide and scandium oxalate. While Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC) only produces mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide. Nickel ore production volume and value went up by 39% and 98% from 109,471 metric tons with an estimated value of PhP10.79 billion to 151,646 metric tons with an estimated value of PhP21.42 billion. Prices of nickel are at their sweetest at US$17,490.15 per metric ton from US$12,473.17 per metric ton, year-on-year, a considerable price difference of US$5,017 per metric ton. The top three producers for the first half were Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC) with 28,935 metric tons followed by Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) with 25,301 metric tons; and Platinum Group Metals Corporation with 12,977 metric tons. TMC and RTNMC supply all the low-grade limonite ore feed requirements of THPAL and CBNC plants, respectively. The limonite ores delivered to THPAL and CBNC were included in the total ore production of TMC and RTNMC. In terms of production by Province, Surigao del Norte led with 51,162 metric tons, followed by Palawan with 39,190 metric tons, Surigao del Sur took the third spot with 21,060 metric tons. While Zambales accounted for 16,757 metric tons closely followed by Agusan del Norte with 16,530 metric tons and Dinagat Island with 6,946 metric tons. Out of the 28 listed operating nickel projects, only 19 reported productions, nine or 32% were with zero production. Production volume and value of the yellow metal was up by 3% and 8% from 8,257 kilograms with an estimated value of PhP22.15 billion to 8,545 kilograms with an estimated value of PhP23.91 billion. The top three seeds were Philippines Gold Processing and Refining Corporation (PGPRC) in Masbate with 3,558 kilograms with an estimated value of PhP9.98 billion followed by Mindanao Mineral Processing and Refining Corporation in Agusan del Sur with 1,268 kilograms with an estimated value of PhP3.55 billion and FCF Minerals in Nueva Vizcaya with 1,090 kilograms with an estimated value of PhP3.05 billion. The price of gold was impressive at US$1,808.59 per troy ounce in contrast with last year’s H1 average price of US$1,647.59 per troy ounce, up by US$161 per troy ounce. Conversely, the performance of the red metal was diverse with copper production volume going down from 31,030 metric tons to 23,557 metric tons year-on-year, a difference of 24%. The production value, however, grew by 4% from PhP7.19 billion to PhP7.46 billion. The PhP0.27 billion surge was courtesy of the upbeat price of copper during the period from US$5,496.36 per metric ton in 2020 to US$9,094.61 per metric ton in 2021, a substantial US$3,598 increase. The positive price was partly due to supply disruptions in major producing countries like Peru and Chile. Currently, the country has only two copper producers, Carmen Copper Corporation in Cebu accounted for 75% or 17,568 metric tons with an estimated value of PhP4.77 billion while Philex Mining Corporation in Benguet accounted for 25% or 5,989 metric tons with an estimated value of PhP2.69 billion. For silver, production volume decline by 6% or 723 kilograms from 11,793 kilograms to 11,069 kilograms year-on-year. Production value, though, grew by 46% or PhP0.14 billion from PhP0.31 billion to PhP0.45 billion year-on-year. Apex Mining Company, Inc. in Davao de Oro retains its dominance accounting for 47% or 5,164 kilograms while in far second was PGPRC in Masbate with 20% or 2,189 kilograms. During the period, eight mining projects recorded silver production. More than the robust metal price, recent developments in the local minerals industry are anticipated to be game-changers in the overall performance of the industry in the coming years not only in terms of mine ore production but also in its economic contribution. By this we mean employment generation, increase revenue collection both at the local and national level, and improved quality of life of the host and neighboring communities. Latest developments include the re-entry of Didipio Copper-Gold Project of OceanaGold (Phils) Inc. (OGPI) in Nueva Vizcaya to the production stream; and the issuance of Executive Order (E0) No. 130 and together with its Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR). The renewal of the application of OGPI was approved last 14 July 2021. This is projected to boost/augment local copper, gold, and silver mine production. It is worth noting that from 2014-2018, the annual production average of the Project for gold was 4,191 kilograms with an estimated value of PhP7.95 billion while for copper about 20,493 metric tons with an estimated value of PhP5.83 billion. More or less this was the foregone production volume and value in CY 2020 when OGPI recorded no production while awaiting the renewal of its Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement. Consequently, forgone production meant lower or no revenue collection by the national and local government during the period. In addition, this also resulted in fewer economic activities in the host and neighboring communities. Another positive development is the issuance of EO No. 130 together with its IRR. This EO amended Section 4 of EO No. 79 of 2012 wherein the Government may now enter into new mineral agreements, subject to compliance with the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and other applicable laws, rules, and regulations. It is notable that of the 30 million total land area of the Philippines, the data of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau shows that only about 2.55% or 763,899.7538 hectares is covered by mining tenements and said the area is still subject to the mandatory relinquishment by contractors provided by law. Breaking it down further, of the 9 million hectares identified as having high mineral potential only 8.49% is covered by mining tenement. This significantly means that 91.51% of the land area identified with high mineral potential remains to be untapped. On the international scene, a lot of things are going on that may affect the growth of the local minerals industry. The COVID-19 pandemic is still very much on the scene affecting mining operations worldwide, even major players were not spared. While it is true that at a certain point the disruption in mining operations has pushed metal prices to impressive heights as a result of lower production vis-à-vis increasing demand. The unrelenting COVID-19 virus which put the health of people still at risk despite the availability of vaccines has now curtailed economic activities worldwide. Reduced economic activities would mean the demand for industrial metals like copper, iron ore, nickel, and among others being utilized by the steel, construction and other downstream industries to decline. Mineral analysts are also projecting, demand cutback from China, for this metals. China is the country’s major trading partner when it comes to its mineral ores. On the other hand, still on the growing concerns of the COVID-19 virus gold price is still expected to be strong given its safe-haven appeal to investors during these uncertain times.

Construction

Philippine Resources - September 07, 2021

Transport projects to drive construction growth in PH

Transport infrastructure is expected as the key driver for the Philippine construction sector growth, Fitch Solutions said Thursday. In a commentary, the research unit of the Fitch Group said the Philippine construction industry is expected to grow by 24.2 percent year-on-year this year, and by 16.1 percent in 2022. “We expect transport infrastructure, particularly rail and road development, to be the key driver of infrastructure and construction growth in the Philippines over the coming years,” it said.  Fitch Solutions added transport projects dominate pipeline construction projects. Of the total value of ongoing projects, 33 percent are rail projects and 22 percent are airport development, while roads and bridges share 18 percent. “(President Rodrigo) Duterte’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program will remain a key policy driving investments in the construction sector, while the progress on the execution of projects will have a heavy influence on growth of the sector over the short term,” Fitch Solutions said. It added that strong fiscal support is also evident in the government’s national budget. Proposed budget for the Department of Transportation (DOTr) next year rose to PHP151.3 billion from PHP87.9 billion this year. Of the said budget, PHP110.9 billion will go to rail projects, PHP13.9 billion for land public transportation, PHP1.7 billion for aviation infrastructure, and PHP720 million for maritime infrastructure. “The Philippines construction sector grew by 25.7 percent year-on-year in real terms in (the) second quarter of 2021, marking one of the highest construction growth rates in its history. This is despite localised lockdowns across the market in recent months. We do stress that this is in large part due to low base effects from (the) second quarter of 2020 when the pandemic first hit, but signals a very strong recovery in the market in line with our initial expectations,” Fitch Solutions said. However, the rising Delta variant cases in the country pose downside risk to the sector. Fitch Solutions forecasted that the construction sector’s growth will weaken during the second half of the year. - By Kris Crismundo   Article Courtesy of the Philippine News Agency

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