PH Nickel Industry Association at the PH Mining Club

by Philippine Resources - March 12, 2019

By Marcelle P. Villegas

“Nickel is all around us. As popular myths and research continue fanning endless debates on mining, an unpopular truth remains, the Philippines holds a strong track record for safe, responsible and sustainable mining. These practices catapulted the country into the roster of top nickel exporters worldwide. “ (an excerpt from the video presentation of Phil. Nickel Industry Association)

Last August, Philippine Mining Club event presented Mr Isidro C. Alcantara, President of Marcventures Holdings Inc. as keynote speaker and as representative of Philippine Nickel Industry Association, Inc. or PNIA.

PNIA is a non-stock, non-profit association duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The association was established in 2012 with a goal to promote and develop the nickel mining industry in the country, and aims to represent the Philippine nickel industry as the single voice to champion its cause with various stakeholders. The mining industry is a major backbone of the Philippine economy, and for that, PNIA believes that the government and the private sector have a big role as partners in developing this segment in the economy.

The speaker, Mr Alcantara has a remarkable background related with banking and finance. He is a senior banker and former President and CEO of the Philippine Bank of Communications (PBCom), Executive Vice President of Equitable PCIBank, Senior VP of HSBC-Manila, and served four years as a Director of the Bankers Association of the Phils. (BAP). He is a certified public accountant and graduated with honours as magna cum laude with a degree in Economics and Accounting from De La Salle University, Manila. He also took Special Studies in Finance at Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

He began his speech with gratitude for the attendees of the event who gathered to listen to the message of PNIA about the mining community. He states, “…hopefully we can inform, clarify and provide a factual and objective picture of the real status of the Philippine nickel industry. The Philippine nickel industry in particular and the entire mining industry is under scrutiny for its supposed shortcomings and inadequate environmental compliances. We beg to disagree. We contribute to the national economy and more significantly in a major way to the specific towns and provinces we are based in. Based on the [27th] information from the MGB in the Caraga region where the nickel belt is, the total socio-economic contributions and payments amounted to 467 million.”

“If you follow the foundational wisdom and thinking from monetary authorities, which I am an alumni of, the money released from wages and other payments, this is the velocity of money that they talk about, the circulation of money. The contribution in provincial areas is 3 to 4 times. In Metro cities, the circulation of money is 11 times. So when they talk of the mining industry contributing 70 billion, that is really a contribution of at least 300 billion. And that a truism that you check with the Central Bank.”

Mr Alcantara states that they believe that mining is a force for good and that overall, the industry contribute significantly to the upliftment of the socio-economic lives of the people in their host communities, where before there were none. “In our communities, we have provided education from nursery to high school levels, built clinics and healthcare facilities, initiated livelihood projects and created jobs, extended scholarships that allow the college education for our indigenous brothers and sisters. Taxes that allowed our LGUs to build roads and bridges and constructed much needed hospitals to give emergency and primary healthcare services. We are the only business where we are mandated to contribute 1.5% of our operating cost [directly] to our host communities for poverty alleviation.”

He also noted that they, the member companies of PNIA, are doing a great job in the environmental programs and that in fact, they do beyond compliance.

Why is nickel one of the leading minerals in the industry? From PNIA’s report, nickel is one of the most versatile minerals on earth that is so powerful that it plays a vital role in the development of various industries. It is used in healthcare, agriculture, and communication. Nickel is all around us.

How does mining in Philippine context shape up? From a video presentation by PNIA, it states, “Massive advances in technology have transformed and improved the mining productivity over the years giving birth to safer, more efficient and more sustainable techniques. Philippine nickel mines use contour mining method where the process of benching is adopted to properly patch or extend the slope, hence the term contour mining, because it follows the slopes of the mountains by making benches for access in mining. With this type of surface mining, the ore extracted is closer to the surface ranger from only 3 – 25 meters below the ground.” In order to limit its side-effects on the environment, their method systematically removes a thin layer of overburdened or top soil to extract the desired deposit.

However, despite all these systematic methods and well-regulated mining practices, there are still endless concerns about their long-term effects on the environment. How then can we make mining environmentally sustainable? The answer is, environmental rehabilitation and reforestation.

After the speech and presentation by Mr Alcantara, a panel discussion took place with Clarence T. Pimentel, Jr., Chairman Emeritus of PNIA and President/CEO of CTPCMC; Ferdinand Pallera, President, Citinickel Mines and Development Corp.; Engr. Cesar F. Simbular, Jr. President, DMCI Mining Corp.; Tulsidas Consunji-Reyes, Vice President for Marketing, DMCI Mining; and Antonio L. Co, President, Carrascal Nickel Corporation.

About Philippine Mining Club:

Running for 8 years now, the Philippine Mining Club is closely affiliated wiht the Melborne Mining Club. The group was formed to create better relationships across all areas of the mining industry whose aim is to uphold a professional networking environment in promoting the exploration, extraction and minerals industry of the country.


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TVIRD-Agata COVID-19 Response Brings Relief to 10,000 Families, Livelihood to Rural Farmers

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines – that brought the nation’s economy to a virtual standstill and left thousands confined to hospitals, stricken with the deadly virus – communities in Mindanao have benefitted from an unexpected partner that immediately and actively responded to the government’s call to unity: and that is the country’s mining industry, which continues to support countrywide development.As of this writing, the industry has realigned some Php247 million of its collective Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) funds to provide relief for thousands of Filipinos in and around mining communities and close to 70,000 frontliners across the country.Immediate responsePrior to the realignment of SDMP to support relief operations, TVIRD’s Agata Mining Ventures Inc. already dispatched various Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) from Manila as part of its immediate response to the needs of medical frontliners in the Mindanao region. TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) has facilities in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte; Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur; and the adjacent municipalities of Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago in Agusan del Norte Province where its Agata Nickel Project is located.To date, the TVIRD Group of Companies has shored-up critical PPEs: N95 face masks, face shields and surgical and examinations gloves to support COVID-19 frontliners, including LGUs, volunteers, medical workers, police and civilian volunteers as well as checkpoint personnel. It likewise sourced majority of its fresh vegetable from farmers and other goods from local establishments to provide relief to more than 10,000 families in its respective areas. The group’s joint relief efforts aim to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and has reached some 46 barangays consisting of its primary and secondary communities.Supporting local livelihoodWhile an estimated one million jobs have been “lost” as a result of the nationwide community quarantine, the challenges of a lockdown are even more pronounced in the hinterlands where a single day of lost livelihood can make or break agricultural and fishing communities who rely on their daily access to the market place. This is in addition to the challenge of putting food on their own tables for their families everyday.Agata sought to bridge this need by sourcing organic vegetables from its TESDA-certified Mabakas Farm School and its graduates under the program. Together with its beneficiary farmers, locally-sourced ampalaya (bitter gourd), kalabasa (squash), okra, sitaw (string beans) and eggplants were included in relief packs – which were distributed to 2,647 families in its three host municipalities.Recipients also included the company’s employees in the mine site and the indigenous Mamanwas who are themselves farmers who would have otherwise faced the risk of spoilage of their produce due to ECQ restrictions on transportation. Over 11,000 kilos of assorted vegetables were included in more than 5,200 relief and vegetable packs distributed by the company – a testament that its production model under the Mabakas framework is sustainable. TVIRD likewise rolled-out a weeklong food distribution program and reached-out to almost 7,424 families in the Zamboanga Peninsula. 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Philippine Resources - January 21, 2021

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Marcelle P. Villegas - January 29, 2021

Rare blue agate from Brazil with the face of Cookie Monster

A rare piece of volcanic agate rock was discovered in the Rio Grande do Sul region near Soledade in Brazil last November 2020. It is an oval-shaped rock with a hard, white pitted outer shell. On the outside, it looks like a perfect egg. When you split the rock at the center, you will see in each of the two halves a strange resemblance of Cookie Monster, a character from the famous children’s television show “Sesame Street”.[1] At first look, the rock’s photos and video which went viral on the internet seems surreal, but it is actually a unique piece of rock that was naturally formed in a volcanic environment, according to its owner. The rock is a deep blue quartz crystal and was discovered and found by Lucas Fassari, a gemologist and explorer in Brazil. [2][3] It was sent to Mike Bowers in California. Bowers is an American geologist and specializes in these types of rocks. He said that it could be worth as much as $10,000 due to its rare features. [1] Bowers uploaded on his personal social media account a video of the rock with the caption “Cookie Monster agate from Brazil” with a background music of Cookie Monster singing about the letter “C”. His post immediately became viral online. The actual cost of the rock when bought from Fassari was not revealed by the current seller. [3] “I think this is probably the most perfect Cookie Monster out there. I have seen others but here you have it complete on both sides. This is very unusual. There are a few famous agates out there: the owl, the scared face. There are many approximate ones but it is rare to find one so well defined like this,” Bowers said. “Prices can be very high. I was proposed over $10,000 by five different buyers. Rare.” While his viral video of the Cookie Monster agate is fascinating, it also brought some doubt to most people. Is it really possible for nature to produce a semiprecious stone with such strange appearance? What are agates and how are they formed in the first place? Geology.com described the agate as a translucent variety of microcrystalline quartz. It is formed by the deposition of silica from groundwater in the cavities of igneous rocks. Agates are formed by the deposits of silica from groundwater in the cavities of igneous rocks. The agate deposits in concentric layers around the walls of the cavity or in the horizontal layers building up from the bottom of the cavity. As a result, layered patters are then formed. In some agate formations, these cavities are lined with crystals, therefore called geodes. A geode is a round rock with a hollow space lined with crystals, just like the Cookie Monster agate. Agates come in a wide range of colours such as brown, red, yellow, gray, black, pink and white. The colours are produced by the impurities during its formation and they are formed in alternating layers within the agate. Now, the variations in colours are produced once groundwater of different compositions leak into the cavity. The banding within a cavity is a manifestation of change in water chemistry. As an end result, agates end up having interesting colours and patterns. Based on this general description of agate, the authenticity of the Cookie Monster agate seems legitimate. Bowers reported to Daily Mail UK that the rock is indeed real. [1] A fact-checking website, Snopes.com. also claimed that rock is authentic. [3] TechnologyTimes.pk on the other hand stated, “As of the moment, there are no news yet as to whether Bowers actually intends to sell the rock or not, and about its current value as of the moment. Furthermore, no authorities have confirmed whether the rock is real or fake. If it is, sure enough, its value will increase over time as more and more people take interest in the unusual rock. Who would’ve known Cookie Monster would make so much numbers in a rock?” (--Marcelle P. Villegas, PRJ) Reference: [1] Boyle, Darren (19 Jan. 2021). Daily Mail UK. "What a muppet! Geologist finds incredibly rare lump of volcanic agate rock which looks exactly like Sesame Street's Cookie Monster". Retrieved from - https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9162441/What-muppet-Geologist-finds-rock-looks-like-Sesame-Streets-Cookie-Monster.html [2] Hart, Matthew (26 Jan. 2021). Nerdist. "Gemologist Cracks Open Rock, Finds Cookie Monster's Face". [3] Evon, Dan (26 Jan. 2021). Snopes. "Is the 'Cookie Monster Rock' Real?". [4] Noor, Mufliha (25 Jan. 2021). Technology Times.pk. "'Cookie Monster' Rock From Brazil: Real or Fake?".

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