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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.


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Mining

Philippine Resources - August 03, 2021

OceanaGold Provides Didipio Update and Q2 2021 Financial Results

OceanaGold Corporation reported its financial and operational results for the quarter ended June 30, 2021. Michael Holmes, President and CEO of OceanaGold said, “I am very pleased with the operational and financial performance of the business in the second quarter 2021. Haile delivered a record quarter of gold production and is well on-track to deliver on the full year production guidance. Waihi plant upgrades were completed, and we 2 commenced continuous milling late in the second quarter which is a tremendous outcome as we continue to ramp-up underground operations.” “Based on year-to-date performance we have refined our expectations for the full year. We currently expect consolidated production of 350,000 to 370,000 gold ounces at AISC of $1,200 to $1,250 per gold ounce sold at cash costs of $825 to $875 per ounce sold. Strong first half performance at Haile has put us firmly on track to deliver ahead of 160,000 gold ounces for the full year at moderately higher AISC, largely driven by an increased proportion of mining costs capitalised as pre-strip plus higher than expected mining costs incurred. On the other hand, a softer first half at Macraes is driving production to the lower end of guidance of 155,000 to 165,000 gold ounces for the full year at consequently higher AISC. Waihi is firmly on-track and production guidance remains unchanged but at improved costs. We expect to provide updated consolidated guidance in-line with the staged restart of Didipio over the coming weeks.” “Renewal of the FTAA at Didipio was one of our key priorities this year, and I’m extremely proud to say we delivered. The staged restart of the asset is underway with the current focus on the rehire and training of our skilled Philippine workforce. We expect to restart processing well prior to year-end, initially sourcing mill feed from existing stockpiles at site. Our expectation is to also transport and sell approximately 18,500 gold ounces and 3,500 tonnes of copper in concentrate on site by early fourth quarter. The rehire and retraining of the workforce, as well as the ongoing risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, could impact the timeline associated with returning to full underground production of 1.6Mtpa, which could take up to 12 months. Operations In the first half of the year, the Company produced 177,039 ounces of gold, a 27% increase over the same period in 2020 due to record production at Haile in the second quarter, resumption of campaign processing at Waihi, and limited impacts from COVID-19. Second quarter gold production of 93,848 ounces of gold reflects record production at Haile of 57,240 ounces. Consolidated AISC of $1,227 per ounce sold YTD and $1,226 per ounce sold in the second quarter were relatively flat over the prior year and previous quarter. Cash costs for the first half of the year of $734 per gold ounce and $764 per ounce in the second quarter, decreased 22% and 11%, respectively. The improvement in cash costs primarily reflects lower operating costs at Haile from productivity improvements made year-over-year Haile, USA Haile delivered a record second quarter of 57,240 gold ounces resulting in 101,581 gold ounces produced in the first half of the year. AISC and cash costs improved significantly, benefitting from higher gold sales and lower overall cash costs from productivity improvements. AISC and cash costs for the second quarter were $922 and $615 per ounce, a decrease of 7% and 22%, respectively, quarter-on-quarter. YTD AISC and cash costs were $953 per ounce and $684 per ounce, respectively, down approximately 36% over the prior year period. Unit mining and milling cost decreased quarter-on-quarter, and increased 9% and 36%, respectively, YTD over the prior year period. Second quarter decreases reflect lower maintenance activities on the mining fleet and higher mill feed following milling disruptions from the first quarter; YTD increases are attributable to higher maintenance costs and an unplanned mill disruption from blocked crusher chutes in the first quarter that have since been resolved. The decrease in site G&A quarter-on-quarter reflects the increase mill feed and lower costs during the period. Confirmed COVID-19 cases at site increased from 111 at the end of the first quarter to 120 by the end of the second quarter, a decrease in positive cases from 48 in the first quarter to nine in the second quarter. Looking ahead, the Company expects to transition to ore mining of lower grades at Ledbetter Phase 1 and commence stripping of Ledbetter Phase 2, resulting in materially lower production and higher AISC in the second half of this year. The Company has refined its full year production guidance for Haile to 160,000 to 170,000 gold ounces at site AISC of $1,100 to $1,150 per ounce sold, including cash costs of $850 to $900 per ounce sold. The higher AISC and cash costs reflect higher mining costs incurred plus incremental sustaining capital expenditures related to open pit pre-stripping. Waihi, New Zealand Waihi produced 3,939 gold ounces in the second quarter and 8,276 gold ounces YTD. Second quarter activities at Waihi primarily focussed on the development of Martha Underground and replacement of the semi-autogenous grinding (“SAG”) mill. Approximately 2,665 metres of underground development were completed during the second quarter and 5,210 metres YTD. Sustained milling recommenced in late June following the successful replacement of Waihi’s SAG mill. AISC and cash costs for the second quarter were $1,223 and $1,215 per ounce sold, respectively, and increased quarter-on-quarter with higher operating costs associated with limited early production, partly offset by moderately higher gold sales. YTD AISC and cash costs were $1,099 per ounce and $976 per ounce, respectively, increases over the prior year period with the ramp-up of production at Martha Underground as expected. Unit mining costs were relatively unchanged quarter-on-quarter with mining of narrow vein ore at Correnso and early production from Martha Underground in both quarters. YTD mining costs reflect early production from Martha Underground relative to the prior year. Processing cost and site G&A increases in the second quarter reflect the planned shutdown for replacement of the SAG mill and resultant lower mill feed. Lower site G&A YTD over the prior year reflects normal operations relative to 2020 which included impacts from COVID-19-related shutdowns. Full year 2021 production guidance at Waihi remains unchanged while cost guidance has improved. The Company expects to produce 35,000 to 45,000 ounces at lower gold cash cost of $900 to $950 per ounce and site AISC of $1,300 to $1,350 per ounce sold. The Company anticipates ramp-up of production over the course of the second half with the highest quarter of production for the year expected in the fourth quarter. Macraes, New Zealand Macraes produced 32,669 gold ounces in the second quarter and 67,182 gold ounces in the first half of 2021. Lower than expected production in the second quarter reflects geotechnical impacts at the Coronation North open pit that slowed mining rates reducing access to higher grade ore zones, as well as a delayed re-start from the planned shut during the quarter to address out-of-scope maintenance requirements Second quarter AISC and cash costs were $1,524 and $897 per ounces sold, respectively. YTD AISC and cash costs were $1,428 and $857 per ounce sold, respectively. Cash costs increased approximately 10% quarter-onquarter and YTD over the prior year period, reflecting the lower ounces, a net drawdown in inventory and additional contractor costs to fill workforce vacancies. Similar increases in AISC also reflect the higher sustaining capital spend related to increased pre-stripping at Deepdell North and waste movements in the quarter and first half. Unit mining costs were 6% and 28% higher quarter-on-quarter and YTD over the prior year period, respectively, as a result of reduced trucking productivity from inclement weather which saturated haul roads, flooded active open pit mining areas, and rendered the underground inaccessible for a two-week period in the first quarter. Mining efforts were subsequently re-directed to increased waste mining and pre-stripping at Deepdell North open pit through the first half. Processing unit costs also increased over comparable periods, reflecting the one-off mill motor outage in the first quarter and extended mill shutdown during the second quarter. Due to the lower-than-expected production in the first half, the Company expects Macraes full year production to be in the lower end of the guidance range of 155,000 to 165,000 gold ounces at cash costs of $800 to $850 per ounce and increased site AISC to $1,200 to $1,250 per ounce sold over the full year, primarily driven by increased sustaining capital spend related to pre-stripping at Deepdell North and additional underground development. Production is still expected to increase in the third quarter and be higher overall in the fourth quarter of 2021. Didipio, Philippines There was no production from Didipio in the second quarter and first half due to the suspension of operations. The Company expensed $5.5 million in the second quarter and $10.0 million YTD of holding costs as part of consolidated Corporate General and Administration, which relates to maintaining Didipio in a state of operational standby. Subsequent to second quarter end, the Government of the Philippines renewed the Didipio FTAA for a further 25 years. The Company’s primary focus is the safe and responsible start-up of operations, which includes recruitment and training of the workforce and the transport of approximately 15,000 tonnes of copper-gold concentrate produced prior to the shutdown of operations. The Company expects to progressively ramp-up to full underground mining rates of 1.6 Mtpa within the next twelve months, depending on workforce rehiring and recruitment efforts. Ore from the underground will incrementally and steadily offset mill feed from stockpiled ore of which there is currently 19 million tonnes. Since March 2020, 72 positive COVID-19 cases have been managed at Didipio, 63 of which occurred in the second quarter of 2021. The Company experienced a significant increase in COVID-19-positive cases early in the second quarter, consistent with the spread of COVID-19 in the local and surrounding communities. The site continues to follow strict health and safety protocols to prevent the ongoing transmission of the virus at site. Financial In the first half of the year, the Company generated $331.5 million in revenue, a 42% increase from the prior year period due to record production at Haile, improved average gold price and early production at Waihi with the development of Martha Underground. Quarter-on-quarter revenue increased 23% with record production from Haile, partly offset by lower sales from Macraes where production was impacted by geotechnical issues that rendered higher grade ore zones of the open pit inaccessible. First half adjusted EBITDA (excluding Didipio carrying costs) of $161.9 million nearly tripled year-on-year, reflecting improved revenues on higher gold prices and record production at Haile at improved cash costs, as compared to the first half of 2020 which included impacts related to COVID-19 shutdowns. Quarter-on-quarter adjusted EBITDA of $95.4 million increased 43%, benefitting from record production at Haile at improved operating costs, partly offset by lower sales from Macraes. Adjusted net profit was $36.9 million or $0.05 per share on a fully diluted basis in the second quarter and $58.7 million or $0.08 per share on a fully diluted basis YTD. The quarter-on-quarter and year-over-year increases were mainly a function of the higher revenue from increased sales volumes. The increases were partly offset by income tax expense of $15.8 million in the second quarter and $21.5 million YTD due to the operational profits in the USA and New Zealand. Additionally, there were no potential tax benefits recognised associated with the costs incurred to maintain Didipio in a state of operational readiness. Operating cash flows YTD were $83.4 million, a decrease year-over-year given the $79.0 million received from the gold presale in the first quarter of 2020. Excluding working capital adjustments, fully-diluted cash flow per share was $0.22 YTD and $0.13 for the second quarter. First half investing cash flows of $152.8 million were significantly higher than the prior year period, primarily due to higher growth capital expenditures at Haile related to the expansion of waste storage facilities, increased prestripping at Macraes and the ongoing development of Martha Underground at Waihi. As at June 30, 2021, the Company’s cash balance stood at $92.3 million, and net debt increased quarter-onquarter to $224.8 million, mainly reflecting the lower cash balance. The Company’s total debt facilities stood at $250 million of which $50 million remains undrawn as at 30 June 2021.

Mining

Philippine Resources - August 02, 2021

Lawmaker Renews Call for Mining Tax Regime, Trust Fund During National Confab of Mining Stakeholders

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has called for the passage of the proposed fiscal regime for the mining industry, saying the industry is a potential job creator in the post-COVID future. Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, emphasized the natural wealth potential of the Philippines, but observed "key deficiencies in the country’s extractive industry governance framework," some of which can be resolved by a “coherent tax regime.” “The country is the fifth most mineral-rich country in the world for gold, nickel, copper, and chromite. It is also home to the largest copper-gold deposit in the world. Estimates suggest that up to 840 billion dollars of untapped mineral wealth is in Philippine soil,” Salceda said in his keynote speech during the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI) National Conference on Thursday. “This is not to mention the 17.1 billion barrels of oil deposits that China’s Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources estimates to be in the Spratlys, or the 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that the US Energy Information Administration believes to be in the area. “These resources, if extracted and managed properly, could make the Philippines one of the richest countries in the world,” Salceda added. Salceda noted that although the issuance of Executive Order 130, amending Section 4 of Executive Order No. 79 s. 2012, lifted the moratorium imposed by the latter on new mining agreements, the Executive Order still has areas for improvement. “First, neither Congress nor the Department of Finance, the country’s fiscal policymakers and fiscal administrators respectively, are given a specific role in this process by the new EO,” Salceda said. Salceda also observed that the EO delegates some powers that are not supported by law, including the power of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to negotiate tax agreements with miners. Salceda also said it is the DOF that has the experience in financial management and should therefore negotiate revenue sharing agreements on the government’s behalf. Salceda, however, emphasized the high potential of the mining sector post-pandemic. “As the world shifts towards electric-powered transport, and as the digital economy continues its ascent, the global economy will require more minerals, especially nickel and copper, which we abound in. Nickel prices are once again in 5-year high levels. So is copper and cobalt, elements needed for e-vehicle batteries,” Salceda said. “Regardless of the grade of minerals we produce, demand is high across the board. It can only mean well for our mining industry’s bottom lines in the medium-term,” Salceda added. Salceda stressed the revenue-generating potential of the industry if a tax regime is enacted. “The tax revenues are also crucial for economic recovery. The proposed regime will generate P7.2 billion in incremental revenues on the first year and P37.9 billion over the next 5 years. These are closed-group estimates. “They are probably conservative, as more mining agreements are made and as mineral prices continue to boom. So, these revenues will play an important role in helping stabilize our fiscal situation,” Salceda said. The industry could create well-paying jobs post-pandemic but stressed the need for a mining trust fund supported by tax revenues from mining as a “rainy day fund” for when mineral prices are low. “Of course, that’s [high prices] not forever. Manufacturers will find ways to reduce metallic content when the metals get too expensive. When that happens, prices will inevitably fall. We must be ready. The tax regime is not everything, but it’s a necessary step we cannot skip,” Salceda said.

Mining

Philippine Resources - August 02, 2021

Philex Delivers PHP1.149B Core Net Income in 1H2021, An Increase of 186% Compared with 1H2020

Photo Credit: Redjie Melvic Cawis Philex Mining Corporation announced that the Company achieved another new high in its revenues and core net income for 2Q2021. Philex recorded a Core Net Income of Php610 million for the 2nd quarter. In addition to the Php540 million core net income it already recorded in 1Q2021, Philex registered a new high core net income for the first half of the year at Php1.149 billion. Satisfactory execution of the mining plan resulted in sustained level of metal output, and optimum operating cost and expenses delivered the higher core net income for the quarter and year-todate ended June 30, 2021. The Company reported a Net Income of Php600 million for 2Q2021 versus the reported Net Income of Php322 million for the same period in 2020, an 86% increase. Production and Revenues The Company milled slightly lower tonnage than the first quarter of 2021 resulting in slightly lower copper output for 2Q2021. Despite the slightly lower copper output, the Company generated higher revenues for 2Q2021 at Php2.377 billion, higher by 21% over the same period in 2020. This brings 1H2021 revenues to Php4.747 billion, ahead by 29% over the same period in 2020, with revenues only at Php3.680 billion. The higher revenues are due mainly to the sustained higher realized metal prices for both Gold and Copper at $1,807 per ounce and $4.21 per pound, respectively. The satisfactory execution of the mining plan and mill operations resulted in the production of 13,612 ounces of Gold and 6.435 million pounds of Copper for 2Q2021, bringing the 1H2021 total metal output at 27,025 ounces of Gold and 13.205 million pounds of Copper. Operating Costs and Expenses Core and Net Income Operating costs and expenses for 2Q2021 at Php1.593 billion are higher than those of 2Q2020 at Php1.552 billion due to slightly higher production expenses and higher excise taxes and royalties attributable to higher revenues. The slight increase was tempered by lower non-cash production costs in 2Q2021 amounting to Php271 million compared with non-cash production costs in 2Q2020 amounting to Php330 million. This brings the 1H2021 operating costs and expenses to P3.240 billion, higher by Php136 million compared with 1H2020. The increase is attributable to increasing production cost brought about by the effects of the pandemic to the supply chain, including logistics and Covid-19 response undertaken by the Company. Reported Net Income for 2Q2021 increased by 86% to Php600 million from Php322 million in 2Q2020 This brings the Company’s 1H2021 reported Net Income to Php1.159 billion from Php425 million of 1H2020. Core Net Income for 2Q2021 reached Php610 million to close the 1H2021 Core Net Income at Php1.149 billion, higher by 186% versus the Core Net Income of Php402 million in 1H2020. The Company generated EBITDA of Php1.016 billion for the 2Q2021 versus Php708 million in 2Q2020, a 44% increase. This brings the 1H2021 EBITDA to Php2.027 billion versus Php1.127 billion in 1H2020, an increase of 80% COVID 2019 Despite our strict implementation of the IATF-DOH mandated health protocols, the Company was not spared by the spread of the Covid19 virus. Several employees and their dependents were infected by the virus but the infection was immediately contained, preventing widespread transmission, and ensuring the continued operation of both the mine and mill plant. The Company adopted and implemented regular surveillance and contact tracing activities to further strengthen its defense against any transmission to its employees and their dependents. Silangan Project The Board of Directors of Philex has approved the In-Phase development of Silangan and the Company will be appointing a financial advisor to assist in the fund raising that will commence as soon as practicable. With the In-Phase development of Silangan, the capital expenditure requirement will be made in stages, and can be funded from a variety of potential resources including internally-generated cash and potentially through equity and debt from investors and creditors. The Company is confident that Silangan development will start by Q22022 with the target of commencing commercial operations in January 2025. “We will be working with our financial advisor to immediately implement the fund raising activity for the InPhase development of Silangan. We believe that the recent government pronouncements related to the mining industry will increase the level of interest and confidence of investors and lenders to mining companies. The launch of Silangan will be very timely.”, emphasized Eulalio B Austin, Jr, Philex President and CEO. “The global outlook for metal prices continue to be positive and Philex is poised to benefit as we emphasize on excellent execution of plans in light of the current volatile environment brought about by this pandemic. In the next couple of months, we set to launch our Silangan Project under an In-Phase Development approach. Silangan will be an exciting project for Philex.”, concluded Manuel V. Pangilinan, Philex Chairman.   Article Courtesy of The Philippine Stock Exchange

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