Architect Palafox on urban planning advice for pandemic survival
by Marcelle P. Villegas - June 02, 2020
(L-R) Urban planner and Architect Felino “Jun” A. Palafox, Jr., Mr Joey Nelson R. Ayson (President, Philippine Mining and Exploration Association), Marcelle P. Villegas (Journalist, Philippine Resources Journal) (Photo by Matthew Brimble, Philippine Resources Journal)
By: Marcelle P. Villegas
“Livable cities have forward planning.” (Architect Jun Palafox, Jr., on ANC’s “Market Edge”)
Architect Felino “Jun” A. Palafox, Jr. is a multi-awarded urban planner and founder of Palafox Associates. Some of his well-known designs include the City of Manila Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Zoning, Rockwell Center and Makati Streetscapes, Manila Polo Club redevelopment in Makati City, Ortigas Streetscapes, La Mesa Ecopark in Quezon City, Santa Elena Golf Course Community in Bulacan, Manila Southwoods in Cavite, First Industrial Park in Batangas, Qatar Embassy in Paranaque, and more.
During his T.V. interview last April 13th at ANC’s “Market Edge” by Ms Cathy Yang, he gave his professional insights and analysis on how other countries survived pandemics in the past, the flaws in the city design and systems in the Philippines that make it prone to more problems during a pandemic, and his advice on how we can improve in addressing the COVID-19 crisis properly and in preparation for future pandemics.
He was asked by Ms Cathy Yang on “Market Edge”, “Nobody has been spared from the COVID-19 pandemic, not even countries with top-notch healthcare systems. Why do you think that is?”
“I think they were not prepared. The whole world was not prepared for this pandemic. And although there were already warnings in the year 2000 - 2005 and some investments internationally had already been prepared for the next pandemic, but it seems they only planned it when the epidemic started and not before. So everybody was caught unaware of it. We have a disaster preparedness plan but not for this pandemic,” replied Mr Palafox. 
When asked how he thinks countries can cope to increase resiliency from where we are now, he said, “Now we are doing the observation and what's going on in this situation and everybody is addressing this problem. We should now have a plan for the transition into the new world order... If you've seen our planning, we have a very weak urban planning system here. We should now include healthcare systems as part of the planning and disaster preparedness for this pandemic.”
Mr Palafox added that there are a lot of lessons to learn from history on how to successfully deal with a pandemic. He mentioned in his weekly newspaper column at The Manila Times that various studies and historical evidence support the connection between climate change and environmental changes with the occurrence of diseases. 
“...it has been proven that climate change is making the world more hospitable for viruses, bacteria and pathogens to thrive. Moreover, health experts believe that by pushing into the last wild spaces of the planet, humans come in contact with wildlife populations that carry new kinds of diseases.” 
“But history teaches us that much can be done through proper design and urban planning to battle health emergencies and even prevent it. In the mid-1800s, urban planner Frederick Law Olmstead was able to integrate urban planning and public health by promoting the concept that community design is key in enhancing physical and mental health. As a result, he designed hundreds of green spaces, including New York’s Central Park. In the mid-19th century, the city of London was experiencing recurring cholera outbreaks. This pushed parliament to pass legislation enabling the Metropolitan Board of Works to develop a sanitation system and begin street improvements. Joseph Bazalgette, the board’s chief engineer, designed an efficient sewage system that intercepted and diverted wastewater from old sewers and underground rivers to treatment facilities. Years later, most of the city was already connected to the new sewer network.”
Moreover, he stated that in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the correlation between urban planning and public health became more evident in the following: 1) prevention of diseases through community infrastructure like drinking water and sewage systems; 2) development of green spaces to encourage physical activity and promote better mental health; and 3) establishment of land use and zoning ordinances to protect people from hazardous risks. 
Mr Palafox also mentioned during his interview in “Market Edge”, "I've been saying that Metro Manila, with the way it is, can no longer be sustainable.” He pointed out that we do not have enough parks and open spaces, and social distancing is hard in our transportation system.
He suggested that in EDSA, “Walking and bicycle should be the first mode of transportation. Our planning has always been automobile centric and bias for the automobile. Our national development is to the primacy of Metro Manila. It is Metro Manila centric, so if Metro Manila is paralyzed, the rest of our country is paralysed. There had been so many proposals before to develop the regions and make other cities in the country more attractive so people don’t have to migrate to Metro Manila.”
He also wrote in his weekly column in The Manila Times, “Sadly, there will be more future pandemics. According to the World Health Organization, the next pandemic is a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not the last major outbreak we will experience. This will be the result of our choices and how we humans have been negligent in inhabiting the planet.” 
“In urban planning, guidelines are laid out to determine how many hospitals and other medical facilities are necessary for municipalities and cities to cope with health emergencies and other disasters. According to the Department of Health, the components of urban health system development comprises programs and strategies for Healthy Cities Initiative, citywide investment planning for health, and urban health equity assessment and response, among others.” 
He mentioned how other countries are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and what we can learn from them. “Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan received praise from health experts because they were able to prepare for the coronavirus before it reached them, and they were able to immediately and aggressively act on it when it arrived. Hence, these territories have only less than 300 confirmed Covid-19 patients even though the virus reached them way before it reached Italy, France and Spain, which now have thousands of cases. Hong Kong was able to quickly develop diagnostic tests and promptly deploy these to major hospitals in the city. Social distancing was extensively implemented at once, and many locations were readily repurposed to serve as quarantine facilities.”
“Singapore’s prime minister, and health and foreign ministers issued clear messages and were very transparent to the public and the rest of the world. The government learned from its experiences dealing with SARS, or the severe acute respiratory syndrome, and H1N1, also known as swine flu, and was able to establish a sound system for tracking and containing epidemics. The country immediately developed tests for COVID-19, intensified production of the materials needed to carry out the tests, and offered free healthcare services related to the disease. Taiwan enforced 124 safety protocols that reflect comprehensive and well-designed policies and strategies. Taiwan was able to restrain the rise of confirmed cases by maximizing public health infrastructure and data analytics, affordable healthcare, swift action from the national government, and wide-ranging educational outreach.”
He then concluded, “Seeing what has been happening to our country recently, we could definitely learn a lot from the overall response of Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. What we are witnessing in the news reflects that our strategies and protocols to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus need further study and enhancements. If worse comes to the worst, our healthcare system will not be able to cope with only 89,000 hospital beds and 1,000 ICU or intensive care unit beds. Clearly, we are simply not as prepared as we want to be. We lack investments in our healthcare system, and we are missing well-planned systems and policies for health emergencies.”
Last April, his own family experienced a great loss when his niece passed away. UP-PGH Head Nurse Faye Marie Palafox was a frontliner and a safety officer-in-charge with an important role of assuring her team has complete PPEs before facing patients with COVID-19.
Mr Palafox wrote on his newspaper column, “In keeping with our belief in philanthropic and patriotic architecture in times of crisis, we at Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture Group are donating the full design manual of the Ligtas Covid Centers. We prepared this with hospital managers, health systems professionals, emergency and disasters experts, and graduate students from the Asian Institute of Management Masters in Innovation and Business (AIM MSIB). Using infection prevention and control principles, the design manual can convert basketball courts into isolation units for suspect and probable COVID-19 patients. We hope our architectural design for the COVID centers will help decongest hospitals and help our nation in the fight against this pandemic.” 
Palafox Associates is the first Filipino architectural firm listed in the World’s Top 500 Architectural Firms of the World Architecture Magazine. His company ranked 94th in the list and has a distinction of being the only Southeast Asian company in this list. By 2012, Palafox Associates was Top 8 in the Leisure Market sector. Mr Palafox was included in the “People of the Year” list by People Asia Magazine in 2010. He received the Gusi Peace Prize Award in 2011. In 2017, he was awarded the Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Awards for Architectural and Urban Planning Honoree.
Acknowledgement: Thank you to Ms Cathy Yang and the team of “Market Edge” on ANC.
 Yang, Cathy (13 April 2020). “How can countries better prepare for pandemics?” Interview of Mr Felino Palafox, Jr. on ANC’s TV show “Market Edge”. Retrieved from ttps://youtu.be/Va5I1fXYK-w
 Palafox, Felino A. Jr. (19 March 2020). “Silver lining: Lessons to learn”. The Manila Times.
 Palafox, Felino A. Jr. (23 April 2020). “Frontliners”. The Manila Times. Retrieved from https://www.manilatimes.net/2020/04/23/opinion/columnists/frontliners-2/717480/
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Marcelle P. Villegas - June 08, 2020
What the PH can Learn from Indonesia's Successful Nickel Industry - Part 2
By Marcelle P. Villegas Previously, we featured an update on the mining regulations in the Philippines. We also examined the export volumes of nickel ore from the Philippines and how these had been affected by Indonesia's exports. Lastly, we discussed the viability of the Philippines' laterite ore deposits and what this could mean for future production. These were the scope of a presentation by Mr George Bujtor last September at the 7th Asian Nickel Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. His report is titled “Philippines: Regulatory Update and the Potential of the Philippine Laterite Ore” - “How the Philippines was Surpassed by Indonesia in the Laterite Nickel Industry”. Mr Bujtor is the CEO and owner of private companies, namely Electric Metals Limited (EML) in Hong Kong and PT Electric Metals Indonesia. These are companies which are developing the innovative EML Process for the low-cost leaching of nickel laterite ores. The EML Process is the first of its kind in green technology in nickel processing, and he introduced this at the Asian Nickel Conference in Indonesia last September. Mr Bujtor is an expert in the technical, financial and commercial aspects of mining operations with over 35 years of experience in the industry. He has extensive work experience in the past as General Manager and Managing Director in Rio Tinto, Australia. In the Philippines is the former CEO of Toledo Mining Corporation and Berong Nickel Mine in Palawan, as well as CEO of Atlas Mining Corporation. As a review from Part I of our article, we learned from Mr Bujtor that the Philippines is currently Asia's leading supplier of nickel and cobalt which are raw materials for the battery sector. He stated that with the right policies, the Philippines could become one of the world's leading suppliers of battery raw materials, including battery manufacturing.  He said, "Both the Philippines and Indonesia have the resources to dominate the nickel industry. The future growth will be in stainless steel and the battery sector. " "Over the next 4 to 5 years, nickel demand growth will be in the stainless steel and battery sectors. Indonesia will continue to dominate the NPI growth and investment. The Philippines will only be able to compete in the battery sector." Now, what is the future of the Philippine laterite nickel ores? With regards to the competitiveness of Indonesia versus the Philippines, he mentioned that, "Relative to Indonesia, the Philippines has NO competitive advantage in ferro-nickel production." He gave the following key points: Indonesia has built, and continues to build, power stations to provide the electricity to its ferro-nickel industry. The Philippines has limited coal resources and a negative view of coal-fired power stations. With past high grading and sales of saprolite ores, little high-grade saprolite tonnage remains in the Philippines to produce low cost ferro-nickel/NPI. Indonesia has the advantage of having considerably higher saprolite ore grades and lesser environmental controls. These are key cost drivers. The future for the Philippines is not in ferro-nickel or NPI. He concluded, "The future of the Philippines lies in the processing of its laterite ores as battery raw materials…” Here is why: The Philippines is currently one of two producers of battery raw materials in Asia, through the Nickel Asia/Sumitomo JV. Sumitomo has the world’s leading technology for HPAL. The Philippines has large resources of laterite ores with medium to high Ni, Co & Sc grades. Hydrometallurgical processes like HPAL require very little electricity relative to ferro-nickel production. The Philippines leads the world in an innovative atmospheric leaching process adapted for the tropics – ‘The EML Process’ –a low cost atmospheric leaching process. Green products for a green future As mentioned earlier, The EML Process is the first of its kind in green technology in nickel processing. "The low environmental impact either locally or globally of the EML process not only produces products green in colour (nickel), but green in nature to promote the ever-increasing demand for battery and related metals to combat the continued burning of fossil fuels and consequent global environmental pollution."  The EML Process was developed in the Philippines. It is an atmospheric leaching process (done at room temperatures and pressure) adapted to treat all laterite nickel ores. (The two methods of atmospheric leaching done by EML are vat leaching and tank leaching.) Here are some key points: Test work undertaken in the Philippines leveraging off Cu, Au, Li and Ni experience “Closed system” with leached ore placed back into mined-out areas –no emissions to land, air or water Lowest carbon footprint and environmentally the “greenest” of all Ni technologies Disruptive technology with lowest capital cost in the industry at Does not require a power station  "The EML Process is not only simple and safe but provides an environmental solution to the laterite nickel industry hitherto much maligned for its poor environmental rehabilitation performance, excess CO2 emissions and excess waste generated." “The principals behind Electric Metals Limited have developed an innovative leaching process to treat tropical nickel laterites, both saprolite and limonite ores. The process can also be applied to other ores of lithium, copper gold, uranium etc.” “The leach process has industry lowest capital costs and is environmentally far superior to the more complex and expensive technologies such as the High Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) and Rotary Kiln Electric Furnace (RKEF) processes.”  The three essential steps in the EML Process include: 1. Leaching of the laterite ore: Mined ore is contacted with dilute sulphuric acid to dissolve the nickel & cobalt (as well as other metals like aluminium, scandium, manganese, etc). 2. Metals Recovery: Solutions containing the metals of interest are treated to recover the contained nickel & cobalt initially, as a mixed hydroxide product containing 35% to 55% nickel and 1% to 3% cobalt. 3. Neutralization: Leached ore is washed and neutralised prior to being returned to the mined-out open pit. The leached ore residue is non-toxic and chemically inert and suitable for revegetation or agriculture. In summary, while the issue of nickel processing and environmental concerns may be a topic of debate among environmental activists and industrialists, the solution lies in having a gamechanger in the nickel processing arena. Today, we now have a low-cost and environment-friendly nickel processing method called The EML Process. This offers a promising future in the industry and for the environment as well. ----- Acknowledgement: Thank you to Mr George Bujtor of Electric Metals Limited. ----- Reference:  Bujtor, George. (11 Sept. 2019). “Philippines: Regulatory Update and the Potential of the Philippines Laterite Ore -- How the Philippines was Surpassed by Indonesia in the Laterite Nickel Industry”. Presented at Asian Nickel Conference 2019, Jakarta Indonesia  Retrieved from Electric Metals Limited website - https://electricmetalsltd.wordpress.com/  Bujtor, George and Wallwin Peter. (02 May 2020). “The EML Process”. Electric Metals Limited investor flyer. Photo credit: Marcelle P. Villegas, Philippine Resources Journal
Marcelle P. Villegas - June 08, 2020
PH Mineral Reporting Code and Its Relevance to PH Minerals Industry
Atty. Dennis A. Quintero, PABC Chair - Presenting the Brief History of Philippine Mineral Reporting Code (PMRC) at the "Focus Group Discussion on the Philippine Mineral Reporting Code and Its Relevance to the Philippine Mineral Industry", Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila - 10 Sept. 2019 (Photo by Marcelle P. Villegas, Philippine Resources Journal) By Marcelle P. Villegas When the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines organised their annual Mining Philippines last year in September, one of the most important parts of their three-day international conference and exhibition took place on its first day at the Sulu Room of the Sofitel Philippines Plaza Manila. It was a small gathering in a separate venue outside of the main conference -- the “Focus Group Discussion on the Philippine Mineral Reporting Code (PMRC) and Its Relevance to the Philippine Minerals Industry”. Although the discussion took place last September, the further development of the PMRC is something to look forward to this year and perhaps even the following year. The Philippine Mineral Reporting Code or the “Code” was created to set out minimum standards, recommendations and guidelines for Public Reporting in the Philippines of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves. “The Code was formulated with the intent of setting minimum standards for public reporting on minerals that is compatible with global standards. The formulation of the PMRC relied on the international codes from Australia, South Africa, European Union and Canada,” according to the Philippine-Australia Business Council (PABC). The closed-group discussion was moderated by Atty. Ronald S. Recidoro, COMP Executive Director. Atty. Dennis A. Quintero (PABC Chair and Meeting Chair) started the event with an “Introduction of Meeting Attendees and Brief History of PMRC”. "The idea of having a Philippine Mineral Reporting Code started during one of the mining roadshows in Australia, participated in by representatives from the Philippine-Australia Business Council. Back then, the Chairman was Atty. Leo Dominguez and the delegation was composed of the various mining industry stakeholders like the Chamber of Mines and also the Philippine Stock Exchange. And the idea came up that if Australia has its JORC (Australasian Joint Ore Reserves Committee), and [thought of] the idea for the Philippines to have its own as well. And that's how the idea of having PMRC came about,” said Atty. Quintero. Organizations that were involved in the promulgation of the PMRC back in 2007 were Philippine Minerals Development Institute Foundation, Philippine Society of Mining Engineers, Geological Society of the Philippines, Society of Metallurgical Engineers of the Philippines, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Philippine Stock Exchange, Board of Investments, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines and Philippine-Australia Business Council. The Secretariat Head of the Geological Society of the Philippines CPAC, Engr. Ramon N. Santos reported on the “Basics of the Philippine Mineral Reporting Code 2007 and Its Implementing Rule and Regulations”. Mr. Joey Nelson R. Ayson (PMEA President) reporting on “PMRC: Updates and Relevance to the Mineral Industry”. Other speakers were (top left - right) Engr. Roger A. De Dios (PSEM National President) and Mr George B. Baquiran (GSP CPAC Chair) (Photo by Marcelle P. Villegas, Philippine Resources Journal) Engr. Juancho Pablo S. Calvez, Chief Metallurgist of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and Member of the PRC Board for Metallurgical Engineering gave a rundown of the PMRC Committee Role and Composition. This was followed by a discussion on the Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards (CRIRSCO) and International Reporting Codes by Mr George B. Baquiran. He is the Chairperson of the Geological Society of the Philippines - Competent Person Accreditation Committee (GSP CPAC) and PMRCC Standards Committee Chair. PMEA President, Mr Joey Nelson R. Ayson reported on “PMRC: Updates and Relevance to the Mineral Industry”. Included in his report is the CRIRSCO Membership Update (Task Force of International Council for Mining and Metals - ICMM): ● Feb. 23, 2019 - CRIRSCO-PMRCC MOU signed ● March 2019 - PMRCC-CRIRSCO Working Group formed ● Sept. 9-11, 2019 - Annual CRIRSCO Meeting in Washington D.C., U.S.A. ○ PMRCC Executive Committee attended (Jun Angeles and Jake Foronda) ● Proposed Timeline for PMRCC to become a CRIRSCO member ○ Aim by third quarter of 2020 ● Upgrading PMRC 2007 according to the CRIRSCO Reporting Template 2019 ○ Approved PMRC Code aim by second quarter of 2020 Mr Ayson also reported the “Bases for PMRC Review/Upgrade” wherein the primary basis is the CRIRSCO International Reporting Template 2019, and the secondary bases are JORC 2012 and NI 43-101. In conclusion, he stated the PMRC and PMRCC relevance to the Philippine minerals industry, namely: ● To protect investors in mineral exploration and mining ● To protect the capital markets from fraudulent practices ● To promote a common understanding in reporting mineral assets ● For our Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) to be world class in attracting mineral investments, both domestically and internationally. PMRC Committee’s Relevance: ● Need for a Philippine-wide National Reporting Organization (NRO) to monitor the effectiveness and relevance of the PMRC and subject the PMRC to periodic reviewers ● Growing importance of compatibility and substantial equivalency with other international reporting codes ○ It is important to be a CRIRSCO member to ensure that PMRC Code will always be at par with the CRIRSCO family of internal reporting codes. Finally, the Open Forum was conducted by Engr. Roger A. De Dios, PSEM National President.
Philippine Resources - June 08, 2020
Responding to COVID-19 in the Mining Industry
By Patricia A. O. BunyeOn 08 March 2020, the Philippine Government declared a State of Public Health Emergency throughout the entire archipelago in light of confirmation of the local transmission of COVID-19. All government agencies and local government units were tasked to assist, cooperate and mobilize resources to undertake critical, urgent and appropriate responses to address the exigencies of the situation. Since then, government agencies have been releasing the appropriate issuances to implement measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 and adapt to the crisis.The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (“MGB”), the government agency responsible for the conservation, management, development and use of the country’s mineral resources, likewise issued several memoranda instituting various measures to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, including realignment of funds, extension of deadlines, adoption of alternative work arrangements and implementation of safety protocols for operations in the mining sector. Realignment of Social Development and Management Program BudgetIn a Memorandum dated 27 March 2020, the MGB authorized mining companies to re-align unutilized funds from their Social Development and Management Program (“SDMP”) to assist host and neighboring communities around mining projects, as well as the non-impact barangays in their respective localities, until the threat of COVID-19 has abated. The principal objective of the re-alignment is to make use of the unutilized SDMP funds for the social amelioration of communities around the mining projects through the provision of health or hygiene kits and food packs in order to efficiently and timely respond to the needs of the communities to combat COVID-19. As of 27 May 2020, approximately Php297 million of the SDMP budget has been utilized to aid the concerned frontliners and households. Extension of DeadlinesAside from food and medical provisions, the MGB also provided legal relief by relaxing the rules on submission of documents and payment of fees, taking into consideration the logistical, social and economic difficulties encountered as a result of quarantine measures. In this regard, the MGB issued a notice allowing the extension of deadlines of the submission of reportorial requirements and proof of payment of occupation and other regulatory fees as prescribed under the Mining Permit/Contract up to 30 June 2020, or up to the immediate submission date when the pertinent quarantine is lifted. Protocols for the Resumption of Mining and Mineral Processing Operations under General Community Quarantine (“GCQ”)Following the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (“IATF-MEID”), the Philippine Government announced on 28 May 2020 that Metro Manila, along with other regions classified as low-risk and high-to-moderate risk areas for coronavirus transmission, would transition from a strict lockdown under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) to a less stringent GCQ beginning 01 June 2020. While movement and transportation is limited under both quarantine protocols to avoid the further spread of COVID-19, the transition from the stringent measures of ECQ to the relaxed measures of GCQ is expected to benefit the economy and the workforce as it allows for the reopening of several industries previously ordered closed under ECQ for not being essential industries. With the easing of quarantine measures in most parts of the Philippines to support the economy, the mining sector and other select industries are now allowed to operate at limited or full capacity. However, since the threat of COVID-19 transmission is still present as cases continue to rise every day, operations of industries are allowed but remain subject to the condition that they follow strict safety protocols. In line with this, the MGB has released guidelines for the resumption of mining and mineral processing operations under GCQ under Memorandum Order No. 2020-004. Workforce and Working ArrangementsUnder the guidelines, a workforce anywhere between 50% up to full operational capacity at the mine/plant site shall be allowed, without prejudice to work from home and other alternative work arrangements. In order to determine who will be required to report for work, mining contractors or permit holders are mandated to conduct personnel profiling in accordance with the IATF-MEID guidelines. Employees not allowed to report for work or those who are prescribed to be on self-quarantine shall be subject to special work arrangements, such as work from home. Responsibilities of Mining EmployersAside from personnel profiling, mining contractors or permit holders are also required to provide for the necessary medical equipment and supplies, such as thermal scanners, masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers, as well as transportation to and from mine and plant sites and accommodation for employees residing five (5) kilometers away from the mine or plant site in order to reduce exposure to the virus and protect the workers from infection. To further ensure the safety and health of the mining workforce, mining contractors or permit holders are also enjoined to observe strict sanitation and physical distancing measures. Guidelines for shipment of minerals and mineral products In cases of shipment of minerals or mineral products, supplies and materials, the guidelines require that cargo vessels shall undergo a 14-day quarantine beginning from the time of its departure at the last port of call.No vessel crew may be allowed to disembark from the vessel and only personnel authorized by the Philippine Ports Authority and cleared by the Quarantine Medical Officer may board the vessel subject to observation of a “no contact” policy within the vessel. Additionally, miners are enjoined to follow measures to contain the spread of the disease, such as (a) submitting a Shipment Report containing the information on the crew list, the port of origin and the COVID-19 test results of the crew; and (b) passing through holding/disinfection areas for persons who shall board and disembark from the vessel.The guidelines, as well as the other measures implemented by the MGB, address the immediate impacts of COVID 19. In the longer term, mining companies need to consider the opportunities and risks arising from this crisis. While for some commodities, the short-term market demand may be low, other commodities like gold typically benefit in times of high uncertainty. Another so-called silver lining for the industry is the lower cost of energy, which usually constitutes 20-25% of operating costs.During this period, companies are also like to respond by rationalizing or streamlining their operations and their workforces, including automating more functions and processes. They will also be called upon to provide services, particularly in health care, to the host and neighboring communities ‘above and beyond compliance’ as these communities are often already underserved by the government.More than simply adapting to the crisis, mining companies are challenged to respond with resilience, particularly in navigating new or increased legal or financial risks. It is a brave new unprecedented world for us all, where only those who can embrace change will survive.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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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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