DOST Undersec Dr. Solidum on Boracay's Environmental Issue
by Marcelle P. Villegas - March 19, 2019
Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr., Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change of the Philippines, Department of Science and Technology (DOST). He is also the Officer-In-Charge of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) [Photo by Marcelle P. Villegas]
MANILA HOTEL, 11 December 2018 -- It was the first day of GEOCON 2018 by the Geological Society of the Philippines. During the event, Philippine Resource Journal has this exclusive interview of Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr. regarding his scientific views regarding Boracay’s water and beach pollution. This is one of the most conspicuous environmental issues of this famous beach.
Dr. Solidum is the Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change of the Philippines, Department of Science and Technology (DOST). He is also the Officer-In-Charge of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) where has worked since 1984 and became its Director in 2003 up to February 2017.
During the interview, he mentioned an important aspect of marine biology and ecology that most people are unaware of. He explained how the chemicals from shampoos and soaps are not merely chemical pollutants but as well as substances that cause disorder in the equilibrium of the marine ecosystem. This imbalance eventually triggers more pollution in the sea and coastline. “Well, essentially the problem in Boracay and many other beaches is that people are not aware that the normal things that they do might actually harm the environment. They need to be educated on why this is so.”
“For example, let me just say going back to Boracay, that the prime resource of Boracay is the white beach sand. However, people do not know, especially the tourists or even the locals, that the beach sand is not provided by the erosion of the limestone of Boracay. It is actually provided by the corals growing on the water, and so the breaking up of the corals provide the beach sand. Also, the corals actually serve as barrier in the shoreline from strong waves that can cause erosion.”
Regarding the types of wastes found in the water and beach, he adds, “The problem is, due to the rapid utilization of Boracay and the untreated waste, the waste can be of several forms. One is the actual waste that would go down on the septic tanks or not at all. Another is simply the washing of our own bodies and clothes using shampoo and soap. Shampoo and soap for example have phosphorus. Phosphorus is part of the fertilizer. So if it reaches the water, that would cause the proliferation of the algal growth of the blue-green algae.”
In Biology, blue-green algae are also knowns as Cyanobacteria or Cyanophyta. These are a group of plant-like bacteria capable of photosynthesis. Blue-green algae have a symbiotic relationship with other organisms in the aquatic environment and have many important functions in the environment. One of them is nitrogen fixation in the atmosphere which assists plants in creating proteins and nucleic acids which are essential for a plant’s survival. However, moderation is vital to maintain balance in nature. Therefore, a rapid, abnormal growth of the blue-green algae causes pollution. This is called “algal bloom” where the sea water is dominated by blue-green algae. These blooms can be toxic and can lead to closure of beaches.
Moreover, Dr. Solidum explains how algal bloom can be destructive, “The sign of pollution is not only the fecal coliform which you don't see, but if you see that there is blue-green algae [in the water], then that's polluted.” In this statement, he is referring to an algal bloom which is manifested by greenish scum visible in the water. Fecal coliform on the other hand are microscopic organisms which are not visible to the naked eye. Both algal bloom and fecal coliform presence in the water are toxic and unsafe for drinking or swimming.
How does an algal bloom affect the coral reefs? “When the blue-green algae grow, they would suffocate the corals or will cause the corals to die. And so, if corals die, they won’t be able to produce the sand grain to preserve the beach. Then the stronger waves shall now reach the beach and can cause further erosion. So in the past two decades, Boracay has been eroded by 40 meters,” said Dr. Solidum.
“Actually the move of the President and the Government and supported by everyone to close Boracay and treat the water are very good but that has to be maintained. People have to play their part. From the presentation [in GeoCon 2018 about sand and water pollution in Boracay], there are three E's in this kind of job. One is Engineering Solution -- you have to treat the water… or somewhat related, Bioengineering. It is not simply the septic tank hard core but there can be bioengineering.”
“Second is the Education -- how people should contribute so that pollutants will not reach the ground or the water, and three is the Enforcement. This refers to the regulatory actions.”
“Therefore, education is key because everyone has to play a role. If people are not educated as to the cause of the pollution and to the effect of the pollution, people will take things for granted. So it starts from education. Sometimes people will take shower around the beach and wash their clothes with soap or use shampoo and that's dangerous. And people do not know. I was actually the one who briefed the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management on the reason why shampoos and soaps should not be used while in the beach or water. These findings are done by the specialists and not by me. I learned it (algal bloom effect) from them.”
Dr. Solidum is the Chairperson of GeoCon 2018 from which he his message, “There are many differences in our focus of work or interest but when GEOCON comes, this event allows us to share what we have learned from our studies or gain new knowledge from others. It brings to light what we think will be relevant to us and our fellow geologists. It is a venue for highlighting opportunities and bridging gaps and interests for the benefit of our profession and society.”
Dr. Solidum has a degree in BS Geology from University of the Philippines, finished his M.Sc. in Geological Sciences from the University of Illinois, Chicago, plus his Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, CA.
In recognition of his contribution to disaster risk reduction in the Philippines, Dr. Solidum has several notable awards such as the Presidential Citation for Public Service, the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award (Civil Servant) by the Civil Service Commission, the Professional of the Year in the Field of Geology by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), the Excellence Award for Government Service by the Philippine Federation of Professional Associations and the Presidential Career Executive Service Award by the Career Executive Service Board.
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Philippine Resources - June 29, 2022
DENR Awards MGB with Plaque of Appreciation for the Success of the Boracay Island Rehabilitation
Photo: The MGB Boracay Island Rehabilitation Team together with former DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu Four years after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spearheaded the rehabilitation of the Boracay Island, the DENR Acting Secretary and Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) Chair Jim O. Sampulna CESO I awarded the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) a Plaque of Appreciation for its valuable contribution to the success of the Boracay Island Rehabilitation during the BIATF’s culminating event on June 16, 2022. Boracay Island is one of the most developed and densely populated karstic islands in the Philippines. The extensive alteration of its natural landscape, as well as the alleged discharge of wastewater into the sea, posed a major environmental concern, prompting its temporary closure on April 26, 2018. The BIATF then launched the rehabilitation of Boracay island to safeguard its sustainable development. As part of the BIATF, the MGB team, led by Lands Geological Survey Division (LGSD) Chief Liza Socorro J. Manzano, was composed of technical personnel from the LGSD of MGB Central Office and the Geosciences Division of MGB Regional Office No. VI. The team conducted studies on hydrogeology, coastal geohazards, karst subsidence hazard, and geophysical investigations using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and georesistivity. The highly specialized studies sought to provide a holistic understanding of the island’s karstology and the impacts of tourism development to ensure that the rehabilitation efforts of the government are predicated on the ecological sustainability of the small island karst. Ultimately, the results of the GPR investigation on pipes discreetly disposing wastewater and polluting the seawater of Boracay which resulted in the discovery of their existence and eventual dismantling of the same is a "game-changer" relative to the implementation of science-based strategies and crafting of policies for appropriate wastewater and solid waste management in the island. Article courtesy of the MGB
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Philippine Resources - August 05, 2022
NICKEL ASIA CORPORATION ANNOUNCES P3.83B NET INCOME FOR H1 2022, UP 41% YoY
Photo Credit: Arrow Creatives Nickel Asia Corporation, the Philippines’ largest producer of lateritic nickel ore, reported a 41-percent increase in attributable net income for the first semester this year. Based on unaudited financial and operating results for the six-month period ended June 30, 2022, attributable net income increased to P3.83 billion from P2.73 billion while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) increased by 19 percent to P6.33 billion from P5.32 billion the year prior. Despite lower ore volume sold during the period, revenues increased by 7 percent to P11.78 billion from P11.01 billion last year, owed largely to higher nickel ore prices and favorable exchange rates. NAC’s four operating mines sold a combined 6.95 million wet metric tons (WMT) of nickel ore during the first half of the year, down 16 percent from 8.30 million WMT in the same period last year. The drop in sales volume was almost in direct proportion to unrealized workable days caused by inclement weather that adversely affected the Company’s mining operations during the period. The weighted average nickel ore sales price over the first half of year 2022 rose by 18 percent to $30.03 per WMT against $25.54 per WMT in the same period last year. The Company also realized P52.56 per US dollar from these nickel ore sales, a 9-percent increase from P48.25 last year. Breaking down the ore sales, the Company exported 3.12 million WMT of saprolite and limonite ore at the average price of $42.05 per WMT during the six-month period compared to 4.55 million WMT at $37.62 per WMT in the same period last year. Likewise, the Company delivered 3.83 million WMT of limonite ore to the Coral Bay and Taganito high-pressure acid leach (HPAL) plants, the prices of which are linked to the London Metal Exchange (LME) and realized an average price of $12.52 per pound of payable nickel. This compares to 3.74 million WMT at $7.92 per pound of payable nickel in 2021. Expressed in US dollar per WMT, the average price for the deliveries to the HPAL plants were $20.23 and $10.85 in the first half of 2022 and 2021, respectively. “The first half of 2022 was not without its challenges especially for our mining operations, brought about by weather conditions at our mine sites, particularly in Surigao, and continuing lockdowns in China, our major market,” said Martin Antonio G. Zamora, President and CEO. "However, the higher LME nickel price and stronger US dollar tempered the impact on our revenues.” Owing to the higher LME nickel price during the period, NAC also recognized gains from its equity share in investments in the two HPAL plants in the combined amount of P1.09 billion against P244.1 million year-on-year. The stronger US dollar further enabled NAC to log a 353-percent hike in net foreign exchange gains from its foreign currency-denominated net financial assets to P863.5 million from P190.6 million the year prior. Total operating cash costs decreased by 2 percent year-on-year to P5.19 billion from P5.32 billion last year. On a per-WMT sold basis, total operating cash costs increased to P747 per WMT compared to P641 per WMT in 2021. For the Company’s renewable energy business, its subsidiary, Emerging Power, Inc. (EPI) energized in June 2022 another 38-megawatt (MW) solar farm in Subic, Zambales, bringing total capacity on this site to 100MW. For 2022, the Subic plant has been operating at an 18- 19% plant efficiency factor with 90% of generation contracted under power sales agreements. EPI has realized an average tariff of P4.65 per kilowatt hour. EPI has another 100MW service contract for the Subic site and will commence construction of a 68-MW farm in August. Completion is expected by the third quarter of next year. EPI was also chosen by Shell Overseas Investments B.V. to be its exclusive local partner in a solar, onshore wind, and battery storage joint venture that aims to contribute up to 3GW into the Philippines’ renewable capacity. NAC is evaluating a range of financing alternatives including accessing global debt capital markets to raise EPI’s share of the equity required for an initial 1GW target by 2028, among other uses. The Company’s strong financial position will allow it to be opportunistic in evaluating funding options that meet the primary objective of maintaining a flexible low-cost capital structure. “We remain confident that our mining and renewable energy businesses provide a solid foundation on which to realize the OneNAC Vision’s twin objectives, which is to become the premier ESG investment in the country and to be counted among the Top 25 PSE-listed companies in terms of market capitalization by 2025,” said Zamora. Article courtesy of the Philippine Stock Exchange
Philippine Resources - August 04, 2022
Further shallow copper mineralisation identified at MCB
Figure 3. Cross section of drill hole MCB-039 relative to the interpreted geology and significant assay results. We (Celsius Resources) are pleased to announce we have received further shallow and high-grade copper assay results from the ongoing drilling program at our flagship MCB copper-gold project, held under our Philippine subsidiary Makilala Mining Company, Inc. (“MMCI”). The results continue to identify new positions of shallow mineralisation which are in line with other recent drilling results from holes MCB-036, MCB-037 and MCB-038 (see CLA announcements dated 13 December 2021, 23 May 2022 and 4 July 2022 respectively) confirming the presence of an extensive shallow higher-grade position. The results from MCB-039 were designed to further expand the size of the shallow higher-grade copper zones which are considered to have an important positive impact on early mining options at MCB. The current drill hole in progress (MCB-040) is similarly designed to further expand the higher-grade copper mineralisation leading to potential improvements to the economics of the already positive Scoping Study at MCB as reported by Celsius on 1 December 2021. “The results from MCB are continuing to grow the size of the shallow higher-grade copper zones,” said Country Operations Director, Peter Hume. “We are getting much better definition now on the various high-grade zones, which are important for the optimisation of the MCB mine plan. We can see many good high-grade intersections coming together to expand on the earlier understanding of these high-grade zones. Where we get multiple high-grade zones staked on top of each other, we can achieve outstanding results, as recently announced from hole MCB-038 which intersected 611.4m @ 1.39% copper and 0.75g/t gold from 32.5m.” RESULTS FROM MCB-039 Drill hole MCB-039 was drilled to further confirm the interpretation that further shallow high-grade positions exist as a relatively flat body extending into the surrounding host rocks (see Figures 2 and 3). This drill hole was more specifically targeted to fill a gap in the drilling information where there was previously defined lower grade copper mineralisation. The results from MCB-039 have confirmed the further extensions to the higher-grade copper mineralisation as part of a series of relatively flat lying, high-grade zones which are extending away from vertically orientated feeder structures which are all closely related to an intrusive Tonalite rock (Figure 3). Figure 2. Location of MCB-039 drill hole relative to recent and historical diamond drilling at MCB. A large broader envelope of copper mineralisation at a lower cut-off grade at approximately 0.2% copper also continues to be better defined, highlighting the very large scale of the copper-gold mineralisation at the MCB deposit. Table 1: Significant intersections from drill holes MCB-039. Article courtesy of Celsius Resources. Full press release can be found HERE
Philippine Resources - August 04, 2022
Diokno banks on mining for sustained economic recovery, expansion
Photo credit: PNA - Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the mining industry is a potential source of sustained economic growth as he underscored the benefit of mobilizing investments for mine development. “The mining industry holds the greatest potential to be a key driver in our economic recovery and long-term growth, especially now that world metal prices are high. The Philippines, after all, is one of the world’s most richly endowed countries in terms of mineral resources,” he said Wednesday at the listing of Philex Mining Corporation’s (Philex) common shares in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). Philex is mobilizing investments for the development of its Silangan underground copper-gold mine in Surigao del Norte. In a disclosure to the PSE, the company said it is offering a maximum of 842 million common shares at the rate of one offer share for every 5.8674 shares owned for PHP3.15 each to raise a total of PHP2.652 billion new equity. The stocks rights offering (SRO) period started on July 12, 2022 and ended July 25, 2022. The Silangan project, considered one of the biggest copper-gold mines in the country, is planned to be mined in two phases. The first phase has a mineable ore reserve of 81 million metric tonnes which will be mined for 22 years at a rate of 4 million tonnes per year. The mine is targeted to commence commercial operations in the first quarter of 2025. Diokno said Philex’ SRO listing demonstrates the mining industry’s confidence in the country’s promising economic growth prospects. He said the offering means more jobs will be created, local economies will be reinvigorated, and additional revenues will be contributed to the government. The Department of Finance (DOF) estimates that the project will generate around PHP8.5 billion in excise taxes alone for its entire mine life. Diokno said the listing sends a strong signal to the mining industry that the country's capital markets are viable instruments for fast tracking the development of large mining projects. He said the Marcos administration is committed to continue creating an enabling environment for mining activities to flourish in the country as he looks forward to similar listings in the future. “We recognize that apart from boosting local development, mining is a strong magnet for investments that can propel our economy into a higher growth trajectory,” he added. Diokno said the government expects the mining industry to strictly adhere to responsible and sustainable mining practices. He said the mining industry should strike a balance between protecting the environment, uplifting local communities, and supporting the government’s socioeconomic agenda. “This is a non-negotiable condition so we can guarantee the sustainability of the industry and the strong economic growth of its host communities,” he said. Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
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