Zooming (and more) in the Pandemic

by Patricia A. O. Bunye - December 01, 2020

I have always wondered how the founder of Zoom, Eric Yuan, feels about making over USD12 billion since March 2020, when the pandemic began and practically everyone on the planet has been ‘Zoom-ing’ for work or play. With its simple features, Zoom has left competitors like Skype in the dust.

Yuan is now ranked No. 85 on Bloomberg's list of the 500 richest people in the world. Before 2020, he wasn't even on the list. He is also number 43 in the Forbes 400, the magazine's annual ranking of the 400 wealthiest people in America, for the first time in 2020. He also made it to Time’s 100 Most Influential this year.

It is not a fortune built overnight or by taking advantage of Covid 19, as some may wrongly assume. Yuan says he got the idea for Zoom while trying to find a way to connect with his long-distance girlfriend (now his wife) as a student. He was one of the original hires of WebEx, a videoconferencing startup, when he first moved to the US. When WebEx was acquired by Cisco Systems, Yuan pitched a new smartphone-friendly video conferencing system to Cisco management, but it was rejected. Cisco apparently preferred to concentrate on enterprise systems which was not the direction Yuan wanted to take, so Yuan left to establish his own company, Zoom Video Communications.

It is not widely known that Yuan has a connection to the mining industry: his parents are mining engineers and Yuan himself has a master’s degree in geology engineering from the China University of Mining and Technology in Beijing.

Thanks to Zoom, there a semblance of normalcy in our lives as it enables us to hold meetings, teleconferences, classes, negotiations, and lectures. I have attended masses, Holy Week services, a wedding, a wake, and reunions. This Christmas, I will likely see friends and family online there as well. Not a day has passed since the declaration of the lockdown in March that I have not connected with others via Zoom.

The silver lining of the pandemic, if you could call it that, is that it has opened many opportunities for online learning. Students are not the only ones who have classes to attend online. There is a wide array of webinars pertaining to my areas of practice available at the click of a mouse, as well as many other topics such as politics (starting with the US elections), economics and finance, as well as a number of my (nerdy) pursuits. In fact, it has developed in me FOMO: a fear of missing out on the sheer variety of offerings.

The Financial Times, for example, ran “The Commodities Mining Summit” online in October with the theme “A New Narrative for Mining”. With the 17 sessions featuring the CEOs of BHP, Anglo American, Glencore and Vale, among others, still available on demand, it is an unparalleled resource.

In his opening keynote, BHP’s CEO Mike Henry underscored that mining remains an essential industry, something that we know too well, but the larger population still fails to appreciate. He says that Covid 19 has given the industry an opportunity to demonstrate its capabilities: how quickly it can mobilize, particularly in safeguarding the health of the companies’ workforces, to support the communities and business partners. According to him, the value created is not just for direct stakeholders, but the resources produced, the ability to generate employment, taxes, royalties, and dividends in a time of crisis is a “positive differentiator” relative to other industries, which produces economic development and an improvement in living standards throughout the world. He further stressed that there is little choice as to whether mining happens or not, but the choice is as to how it happens and who does it.

In this regard, Mike Henry highlighted the role that commodities play in “rebuilding a better world”, particularly in addressing climate change and de-carbonization. He also emphasized the “build back better” (BBB) approach in relation to recovering after Covid 19, i.e., continuing to ensure sustainability as the mining industry bounces back.

That commodities are essential was seconded by Glencore’s Ivan Glasenberg in a succeeding panel. He said that “new generation companies” like Tesla all depend on mining for the commodities that they require for batteries, solar panels, windmills and like. Unfortunately, he said, mining companies “get it wrong” by building new mines and underestimating the cost.

Mark Cutifani of Anglo American, for his part, said that it is time for mining companies to stop thinking in terms of B2B (business to business) and start thinking in terms of B2C (business to consumer) so that the dialogue around mining shifts, i.e., when people talk about the provenance of products, they will become more comfortable with the idea that when they drive a car, build a house, use electrical power, or even drink water, the mining industry is involved in everything.

Apart from this outstanding series of the FT, I have enjoyed the Wall Street Journal’s Women in the Workplace Forum where Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg was one of the many speakers. It was also an occasion to launch “Women in the Workplace 2020” LeanIn.org’s comprehensive study on women in corporate America in collaboration with McKinsey & Co. What struck me in the study was that, notwithstanding the many gains made by women, Covid 19 has presented more challenges or demands on them in terms of additional child care or home schooling responsibilties, the health/illnesses of family members, mental issues/burnout, and other unique issues brought by the pandemic.

One of the best online engagements I’ve had so far was a networking evening where the participants received cocktail making kits at home prior to the event and a bartender demonstrated how to mix drinks via Zoom.

Next May, a conference that I attend annually may possibly be held 24/7 by Zoom to enable its members worldwide to participate from different timezones in 6 hour shifts. A radical idea, but with the world turned upside down by Covid 19, anything is possible these days.

Patricia A. O. Bunye is a Senior Partner at Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia where she heads its Mining & Natural Resources Department and Energy practice group. She is also the Founding President of Diwata-Women in Resource Development, Inc., a non-government organization advocating the responsible development of the Philippines’ wealth in resources, principally, through industries such as mining, oil and gas, quarrying, and other mineral resources from the earth for processing.


Place your Ad Here!


Recent Articles

Industry

Philippine Resources - May 26, 2022

Legal framework needed for gov’t to invest in nuclear power plant

Department of Energy (DOE) Undersecretary Gerardo Erguiza Jr. said there is a need to amend the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to enable the government to invest in nuclear power plants. This, as the incoming administration has expressed its support in considering a nuclear power plant to be part of the country’s energy mix. “As of now, the government does not have the ability to put up conventional nuclear power plant because the National Power Corp. does not have mandate on this,” Erguiza said in Filipino during the Laging Handa public briefing Wednesday. With the privatization of the power sector under the EPIRA, the government could not enter into power generation. “But we can align together, with the drafting or putting up of the regulatory framework, we can amend our laws to include the government among those that can fund a nuclear power plant,” he added. Erguiza said that based on studies of the Korean Hydro Nuclear Power Company of South Korea and ROSATOM of Russia, they have found out that the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) can still be rehabilitated. According to ROSATOM, an investment of around USD3 billion to USD4 billion is needed to revive the BNPP. Presumptive President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. earlier mentioned that part of his energy agenda is to revive the BNPP to become an additional source of clean and cheap power. On the other hand, Erguiza said the government can invest in power generation using small modular reactors, the latest nuclear energy technology, in missionary areas that are not connected to the grid. 

Construction

Philippine Resources - May 26, 2022

Dutch gov’t backs SMC, Boskalis in P740 billion Bulacan Airport project

Photo credit: Palafox Dutch gov’t backs SMC, Boskalis in P740 billion Bulacan Airport project San Miguel Corporation (SMC) received its strongest support yet for its game-changing P740-billion New Manila International Airport (NMIA) project in Bulacan following the approval of the Dutch government of an export credit insurance (ECI) for the project’s land development phase. The approval comes after over a year of rigorous review of the project’s long-term environmental and social impact mitigation measures to ensure that the multi-billion project is done with sustainability in mind and aligned with the country’s climate ambitions. The Dutch government, represented by Atradius Dutch State Business (DSB), extended the ECI to Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V., to cover its EUR 1.5 billion contract for land development works at the airport project site in Bulakan, Bulacan. The NMIA project is the largest in Boskalis’ over 100-year history, and is also the largest export credit agency (ECA) insurance policy granted in the 90-year history of Atradius. SMC President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang thanked the Dutch government for its support to NMIA, a project seen to catalyze sustainable economic growth for the Philippines, especially post-pandemic. It is seen to deliver over a million jobs to Filipinos. “This is a significant milestone not only for San Miguel and the NMIA project, but for the entire country. With this, we are closer to our dream of having a world-class, future-ready, and sustainably-built international gateway, proudly built by Filipinos for the Philippines. This also validates our work with Boskalis to ensure that this project is done right, and will provide long-term economic, environmental, and social benefits to our host communities and Bulacan province,” Ang said. In a statement posted on Boskalis’ international website, its CEO Peter Berdowski, said: “I am very pleased that all the hard work with a large team of experts has been successfully completed (today). For more than a year, we have worked intensively with Atradius DSB to ensure that the construction of the new airport will take place in a socially responsible manner.” He added: “In collaboration with Atradius DSB, the Dutch embassy, we succeeded in developing a broadly supported plan with an eye for the local community and the preservation of biodiversity. I would like to thank all those involved for their contribution to the positive decision of the State.” In the same statement, Atradius DSB Managing Director Bert Bruning said: “This project is unique on so many levels. Firstly, of course, as a very important contract for our client Boskalis, but also for us, as the largest ECA policy in our 90-year history,” he said. “In addition, I am proud of the fact that together with Boskalis and San Miguel, by keeping up the dialogue, we were able to ensure that the project is to meet international standards in the field of environmental and social conditions. In doing so, we have not only contributed to making this wonderful contract possible built also really made a difference together for the local communities and nature.” As part of the ECI process, a large group of experts from San Miguel, together with Boskalis and four renowned consultancy firms, conducted an extensive environmental and social impact assessment in accordance with the highest international standards. This process also included the conduct of impact analyses and compensation packages for adverse effects of the project. “This shows that the airport project and our environmental and social mitigation plans are not only sound, but robust and strong, given they can pass not only international standards but the exacting requirements of the Dutch government. It is another testament to the ability of Filipinos to be world-class,” Ang said. “We will continue to work with Atradius, the banks, experts, national and local government, and all stakeholders to ensure we will build this project in a sustainable manner and in compliance with the highest international environment and social standards,” Ang reaffirmed. added. The airport project will feature four parallel runways, a world-class terminal, and a modern and interlinked infrastructure network that includes expressways and railways.    Article courtesy of San Miguel Corp

Company

Philippine Resources - May 25, 2022

CTPCMC Allocates 7.7M for COVID-19 Initiatives

Article by: Roniel R. Arguillas - CTPCMC ICE Officer BAYANIHAN AMIDST THE COVID-19 BATTLE In order to protect and improve the lives of the people within the host and neighboring communities pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act”, CTP Construction and Mining Corporation or CTPCMC allocated 7.7 million pesos intended for the implementation of projects, programs, and activities (PPAs) on COVID-19 prevention. Through its Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) under Adlay Mining Project (AMP) and Dahican Nickel Project (DNP) the company implemented essential PPAs in the year 2021. The beneficiaries of PPAs were from the Host and Neighboring communities specifically Barangay Adlay, Barangay Dahican and Municipality of Carrascal. With an allocated budget of P2,060,803.78, a Covid-19 Assistance Center was put up to be the second line of support to the host communities if their existing Isolation Rooms have been fully occupied. The company’s employees and their dependents are to be prioritized in the center. The center is offering services which include free isolation room for those who are identified and confirmed as covid-19 patients, free vitamins, and over-the-counter drugs, 24/7 monitoring by health personnel and stand-by oxygen concentrators. Another PPA was the provision of 59 medical equipment and kits to Barangay Adlay. The provision included pulse oximeter, thermal scanner, LCD full digital ultrasound machine, hospital bed and refrigerator as vaccine storage. The turnover was done on December 14, 2021, held at Barangay Hall of Adlay. It was attended by Engr. Charlo R. Basadre CTPCMC Resident Mine Manager, Charid O. Cuadrillero ComRel Manager, Hon. Norberto O. Rubi Jr. Barangay Captain, and Raquel Bungcaras assigned nurse.  “These are very essential and a huge help to the key front liners and to the people within the community.” Hon. Rubi said during the turnover. The company also provided two SDMP Emergency Response Vehicles for health-related emergencies.

Join the Philippines'

Mining and Construction Community

Be the "First" to get our exclusive Digital Magazine & Newsletter.