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Demand For Nickel Ore May Remain High

by Philippine Resources - February 15, 2021

If Indonesia maintains its nickel export ban, the demand for Philippine nickel ore in China will remain high.

According to Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) Vice-President for Communications Rocky G. Dimaculangan, “As long as Indonesia keeps its nickel export ban, demand for Philippine nickel ore from China’s NPI (nickel pig iron) plants will remain strong.”

Last year, Indonesia banned nickel ore exports to develop a domestic-processing industry. This would allow the country to capture more added value from ore - instead of exporting the ore to be processed in China.

Since April 2020, S&P Global Market Intelligence said that China had grown more dependent on the Philippines to supply nickel in the absence of Indonesia.

Dimaculangan said that the main driver of the cost of nickel will be electric vehicles. He said, “Given the growing demand for nickel from the electric vehicle market, LME nickel prices (are) expected to remain strong.”

COMP said that it expects the prices of gold to “remain close to or even above 2020 levels”.

He added, “We anticipate central banks and governments to sustain their high monetary and deficit-spending stimulus programs even as economies slowly recover from the COVID pandemic following the worldwide vaccinations.”



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Philippine Resources - September 24, 2020

TMC supports local farmers during pandemic

While COVID-19 remains a threat to different parts of the country, a local community in barangay Sapa, Claver, Surigao del Norte has turned to farming to brace for another threat – food availability and livelihood amid the pandemic.A total of 25 members of Sapa Integrated Farmers’ Association (SIFAS) spent months of the community quarantine attending to their farming project supported by Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC), a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corporation.The project is part of TMC’s Social Development and Management Program where it has so far spent over Php 1.07M for the livestock, seedlings, labor, construction, etc. For the first phase of the project, 220 Peking ducks were delivered by the TMC Community Relations team along with feeds and construction materials.On May 29, an additional 13 goats, 1 male and 12 females were turned over to the farmers’ group who hopes to market the goat’s milk and the cheese that can be made from it. They are also looking at converting the goat’s manure and urine into fertilizer and pesticide; while the mature goats can be sold for their meat.As counterpart, the members provided the labor during land preparation and take turns in manning and managing the farm which sits on a 1.5-hectare area offered by two of the members, Elpedio Acero and Manuel Escudo. “It is part of our social commitment to support sustainable livelihoods in our communities. In these challenging times, it is a privilege to continue helping and supporting our communities through our relief operations and livelihood programs,” said Roel Paniza, TMC Community Relations manager.SIFAS president, Virgelio Buyan, shared that the group is blessed that even with the on-going community quarantine, they are able to earn daily from the harvest of fresh duck eggs. Per day, they collect an average of five (5) trays of duck eggs which they sell in the community. They also receive a stipend for their labor for the land preparation for their fruit and flower plantation.“Akong pangandoy na mulambo ini na project isip pasalamat sab namo sa naghatag sa project. Amo ni ampingan kay kami ra man sab mabulahan, syempre garbo man sab namo ni mga taga Sapa (It is my dream that this project will prosper as our gratitude also to the company. We will treasure and take care of this since we will also be the one to benefit and it is our pride as member of the Sapa community), shared Buyan.Nagpasalamat ko na isa mi sa natagaan ini na project na makatabang gajud sa katawhan. Maskin COVID, padayon trabaho, para makita sa TMC na kami naningkamot gajud. (I am thankful that we are one of the recipients of this project that could really help people. Even during the pandemic, work continues also to show TMC that we are striving), said Buyan.

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Philippine Resources - December 07, 2020

Duterte Orders OceanaGold Contract Renegotiation

The President has ordered the renegotiation of the contract of Australian-Canadian mining company OceanaGold.According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Office of the President (OP) issued an order to the Philippine panel to begin negotiating with the mining firm on the conditions of its financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA). “We wanted to finish the negotiation fast without sacrificing government interests so that the project can begin to contribute to the economic recovery of the country and most of all the stakeholders of the project,” MGB director Wilfredo Moncano said.The FTAA for OceanGold for its Didipio mine in Nueva Vizcaya expired in June 2019 and has failed to get a renewal and therefore, local authorities implemented mine closure. Presently, 76 per cent of its 1,500 workforce - which come from local communities in Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya - have been laid off. OceanaGold said that it has received notifications by the OP about the renegotiation.“The OP gave instructions to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Finance to engage with us and renegotiate,” OceanaGold Philippines communications manager Marjorie Idio said. “But as to the details, we really haven’t commenced discussions. We were just informed very recently. We are still waiting for further instructions, but we are looking at this in a very positive light.”Earlier, the OP found some defaults - such that the deficiency based on the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act, the first 25 years of the mining firm was not covered by the IPRA law, the area of the mine was outside the ancestral realm of the Bugkalot tribe, and that during the renewal, the tribe also filed for an application of expansion - which covered the area of OceanGold.Even if it has received the endorsement from the MGB and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources since last year, the FTAA final renewal of OceanGold dragged on. The President has the final decision on the renewal of an FTAA.Meanwhile, the Philippine Mining and Exploration Association (PMEA) highlighted that the renegotiation of OceanaGold is a positive development for the industry. “This is much better rather than we are in limbo and doing nothing. We are moving forward and we might see Didipio mine contributing substantially next year,” PMEA president Joey Ayson said.Once renewed, OceanaGold said it would work to re-hire some of the people that the mining firm has laid off.

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Philippine Resources - November 25, 2020

MGB Issues Exploration Permit

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Mining

Philippine Resources - April 06, 2021

Philippines Unlikely to Fulfill China's Nickel Ore Requirements

Despite the resumption of many mining operations in the region, the Philippines is unlikely to fulfill China's nickel ore requirements, according to an S&P report. Philippine mined nickel production is expected to increase over the next five years, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence industry survey, as producers aim to satisfy Chinese nickel ore demand. However, S&P analysts said, “We believe that legislation will remain a major hurdle for restarts and new projects, therefore the Philippines will be unable to meet Chinese nickel ore demand over our forecast period.” Three nickel mines in the world that had been closed due to the coronavirus disease in 2019 were reopened in 2020 when the government turned to the mining industry to help offset the economic effects of the disease (Covid-19). These restarts and demand from current mining facilities, according to foreign analysts, are expected to raise Philippine mined nickel output from 340,000 tonnes in 2020 to 550,000 tonnes in 2025. “However, we believe that existing environmental restrictions on Philippine mining will limit the scope for further mine restarts or additional production from new mining projects in the medium term,” S&P analysts said. “This will prevent the Philippines from meeting China’s nickel ore requirements in Indonesia’s absence, driving Chinese primary output down from an estimated 715,000 tonnes in 2020 to 490,000 tonnes in 2025.” The Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) previously reported that the country's nickel export value increased by P1 billion from January to September 2020, compared to P24 billion in the same timeframe last year. According to a survey from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Philippine nickel industry produced 18.5 million dry metric tons (DMT) in 2020, down 14% from the previous year's 21.6 million DMT production. MGB stated that the lower output was primarily due to the increased community quarantine imposed by Covid-19 from March to May 2020, during which mineral product movement was restricted across the world. The increased performance in export value for the nickel industry, according to PNIA President Dante Bravo, was primarily motivated by demand increases in nickel prices. China's consistent demand boosted the world nickel price in 2020.

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Philippine Resources - April 06, 2021

Forecasts for PH Development in 2021 Have Been Reduced

Fitch Solutions, a London-based think tank, has slashed its economic growth forecast for the Philippines this year, citing the return to tough lockdown measures in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, which is expected to dampen domestic investment in the short term. Fitch Solutions now expects the Philippines' actual gross domestic product (GDP) to rise by 5.8% this year, down from the initial estimate of 7.6%, due to the government's capital spending push being derailed. “The surge in COVID-19 cases in the Philippines in March and lockdown measures imposed reflect the continued risks to the archipelago’s economic outlook,” the think tank said in a research note dated April 1. The government has reimposed curfew policies in Metro Manila and neighbouring provinces, affecting an unprecedented 24 million inhabitants, as it struggles to control the pandemic. Given the continuing increase in cases and the long-term effect on hospital capacity, Fitch Solutions expects the lockout steps to be extended beyond two weeks. “The likelihood of further outbreaks in other regions remains high and given the slow vaccination rollout in the country (less than 1 per cent of the population has been vaccinated as of end-March) we believe the Philippines’ recovery will continue to be hampered by the pandemic,” Fitch Solutions said. Regional outlook The think tank went on to say that its new estimate of 5.8% also had downside risks. It stated that its forecast for a moderate recovery this year was based on the assumption that domestic demand would steadily improve and the government's investment plans would be realized, resulting in a sharp increase in domestic activity. “However, the slow vaccine rollout and recurrent difficulties in containing outbreaks look set to stall the recovery further,” it noted. A survey of economists in the Asean-5 and India found that the Philippines' growth projection was 5.2 per cent, down from 5.9 per cent in the previous poll last December. Although Asian countries that carried out mass vaccination earlier, such as India, Indonesia, and Singapore, saw their near-term economic prospects boost, gradual inoculation tempered economists' growth aspirations for the Philippines, according to a poll released on Monday by the think tank Japan Center for Economic Research (JCER). Economists following the Philippines predicted that GDP will contract by 3.8 per cent year on year in the first quarter, up from 0.7 per cent a year before. GDP will rise 8.4% year over year in the second quarter, 5.6 per cent in the third quarter, and 4.5 per cent in the fourth quarter due to base effects from last year's low. Malaysia and Thailand, including the Philippines, have weaker growth forecasts for 2021. “Most economists see the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination as one of the most significant positive developments over the last three months and all three upward-trending countries have rolled out vaccinations relatively sooner. This may have improved economists’ outlooks. Delays in vaccination and the spread of COVID-19 variants are listed as factors that might damage the economies,” JCER said. Top concerns Faster dissemination of COVID-19 variants and delayed vaccination, or "corona shock," were described as top economic issues in the Philippines, but higher inflation was also identified as a major threat to the country's recovery from the pandemic-induced recession. According to analysts, headline inflation will average 4.5 per cent in the first quarter, 4.8 per cent in the second, 4.7 per cent in the third, and 4.2 per cent in the fourth quarter, averaging 4.5 per cent in 2021, way above the target range of 2-4 per cent. With a 6.1 per cent increase, Singapore is forecast to lead economic growth in the Asean-5 this year, led by Malaysia's 5.3 per cent and Philippines' 5.2 per cent. According to the JCER report, India will rise at a higher rate of 11.2 per cent in 2021. Economists predicted that the Philippines' average GDP growth will be 6% in 2022, up from 5.8% in December but still below the government's goal.

Construction

Philippine Resources - April 06, 2021

Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge Expected to Open in June 2021

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is concentrating not only on the civil work’s development of the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge Project but also on keeping the workplace secure and clean. DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar said, "that at 86 per cent and with just a few more days to fully complete the new Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, we are mindful that a single case of COVID-19 in the project can lead to an interruption, if not total work stoppage" Secretary Villar recently issued revised guidelines in Department Order #30 for the implementation of ECQ, MECQ, GCQ, and MGCQ infrastructure projects, both public and private, during the public health crisis. "Although the bridge project is being rushed for completion in June 2021, it is critical that construction firms be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with the increased risk of illness from COVID-19," Secretary Villar added.  Emil K. Sadain, Undersecretary for Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Operations, and UPMO Roads Management Cluster 1 Project Manager Benjamin Bautista checked the physical progress of the bridge project on Monday, April 5, 2021, and the contractor's compliance with protocols that cover prevention, detection, and rapid response to maintain construction work continuity as workers who have been living in the barracks resume work after the Lenten season. “Let’s get to work healthy to get the job done”, Undersecretary Sadain reminded the contractor China Road and Bridge Corporation citing the current health situation, particularly in the NCR Plus bubble.   In his report to Secretary Villar, Undersecretary Sadain reported that the project is more than 12% ahead of time, having completed all bridge substructure works for abutments A and B on both sides and piers of the Makati approach bridge; the V-shaped piers for the Main Bridge; concrete box girder for the approach bridge; and the V-shaped piers for the Main Bridg; and two (2) prestressed concrete box girder segments using the traditional approach. Post-tensioning and grouting works, formworks and rebar installation for the closure section in the side spans, formworks installation for the 2-meter closure section in the main bridge span, and preparatory works for approach road construction on both sides are now the focus of bridge construction activities. The new 506-linear meter bridge, funded by China and introduced by the DPWH UPMO - Roads Management Cluster 1 (Bilateral), would have a diameter of 21.65 meters, capable of four (4) lanes instead of two (2), and three-meter sidewalks on both sides. The P1.46 billion new Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, which is scheduled to be completed in the second quarter of 2021, will handle 50,000 vehicles a day and minimize travel time between Mandaluyong and Makati to 12 minutes. The bridge will connect Estrella Street in Makati to Barangka Drive in Mandaluyong, helping to relieve traffic congestion on EDSA by providing an alternative route for motorists.

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