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by Philippine Resources - March 11, 2021

The Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA) has been awarded to Cagdianao Mining Corp. (CMC), based in Valencia, in Dinagat Islands, and Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. (RTNMC), based in Bataraza in Palawan, for outstanding initiatives in the pursuit of excellence in environmental management. CMC and RTNMC are subsidiaries of NAC, the country’s largest nickel supplier.

“The award for 2020 is made more significant because of the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19. Our employees had to exert double efforts and had to sacrifice personal time in order to achieve our goals, to ensure 100 per cent implementation of our commitments to all our stakeholders in the mining communities” explained Engr. Arnilo C. Milaor, Resident Mine Manager at CMC.

Last year, the Dinagat-based company also received the Presidential Award. 

“The improved living conditions in the mining areas are proof of our commitment to the communities. One outstanding CMC project for example is the 19.2-kilometre farm-to-market road worth P12 Million pesos, connecting 5 barangays from 2 municipalities to the main provincial road, effectively providing the residents access to basic services like the hospital, and, most importantly, efficient access to trade and commerce,” said Engr. Aloysius C. Diaz, NAC VP for Operations.

Rio Tuba Nickel has never stopped its operations and has won the Presidential Award 4 times – 2002, 2015, 2018, and 2020.

“With strict enforcement of preventive measures against COVID-19 to protect employees and our host communities, we did not have work stoppage with no recorded-case of infection within the mine site, and, most significantly, we did not lay-off any worker” shared Engr. Cynthia E. Rosero, RTN’s Resident Mine Manager.

According to Environmental Planner, Janice M. Tupas, Manager of the Mines Environmental Protection and Enhancement Dept. (MEPED) of RTN, “The qualifiers or applicants for the PMIEA must achieve a final rating of more than 95%. There are significant points also for ‘no unresolved notice of violations’; ‘compliance to operational and legal obligations, and no fatal work-related accidents.”

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Philippine Resources - March 16, 2021

Income of Nickel Asia Up 52%

  NICKEL ASIA Corp. gained P4.07 billion in attributable net profits in 2020, up 51.9 per cent year over year due to higher ore export rates. The listed business said in a regulatory filing on Thursday that total revenues increased 21.5 per cent to P21.77 billion from P17.92 billion in 2019. In the disclosure, the firm said, “The significant improvement in the realized nickel price of the combined ore exports and ore deliveries to the two plants in 2020 more than offset the slight decline in sales volume and the less favourable (Philippine) Peso to United States Dollar exchange rate.” Nickel Asia announced that it exported 10 million wet metric tons (WMT) of nickel ore in 2020, down from 10.4 million WMT the previous year. Despite lower ore exports, export prices increased 45 per cent year over year in 2020, to $33.99 per WMT. Ore supplies to the Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. (THPAL) and Coral Bay Nickel Corp. (CNBC) HPAL plants fell 2.4 per cent to 8.2 million WMT in 2020, according to Nickel Asia, with an average price of $6.22 per pound of payable nickel. Nickel Asia said, “On a combined basis, the company sold a total of 18.2 million WMT at $22.46 per WMT and 18.8 million WMT at $16.69 per WMT in 2020 and 2019, respectively.” Total operating cash costs for 2020 increased 1% year on year to P10.68 billion, according to the company. It went on to say that the realized Philippine Peso to US Dollar exchange rate for ore sales in 2020 was P49.15, down from P51.72 the previous year. Nickel Asia President and Chief Executive Officer Martin Antonio G. Zamora reported that demand for nickel ore remained stable despite the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. He said, “As Indonesia resumed its ban on direct export of nickel ore at the start of 2020, we realized higher prices for our ore exports. In spite of every consequence the global standstill brought, we took care of our people, we focused on our communities, and Nickel Asia survived 2020.” Nickel Asia's stock gained 7.21 per cent, or 0.37 centavos, to P5.50 apiece on the stock exchange on Thursday. Meanwhile, Atlas Consolidated Mining and Production Corp. reported on Thursday that its Carmen Copper Corp. (CCC) has been granted permission by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to resume mining operations in the Carmen Pit. The approval, however, does not allow for the resumption of work at the sections affected by the slide that occurred on December 21 last year, according to CCC. CCC stated that it will continue to enforce safety measures in the reconstruction of affected areas at the pit and that it is collaborating closely with various regulatory agencies and local government units to resolve the ongoing rehabilitation efforts. CCC's operations were halted in December after a slide occurred at its mining site in Toledo City, Cebu, due to heavy rains triggered by Typhoon Vicky. At least four people were killed. Atlas Mining's stock rose 2.22 per cent, or 14 centavos, to end the day at P6.46 per share on the stock exchange on Thursday.


Philippine Resources - March 23, 2021

Nickel Asia is the First Filipino Mining Company Welcomed into UNGC

Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC) is pleased to announce that it is the first mining firm in the Philippines to be recognized as one of the United Nations Global Compact's newest members (UNGC). UNGC, the world's largest sustainability initiative, "supports worldwide businesses committed to responsible business practices in the fields of human rights, labour, the environment, and corruption," according to its website. UNGC was officially opened in New York in 2000 and is based on a set of principles that the UN believes must be pursued in order for a business to fulfil its environmental and social obligations. NAC has promised to follow these principles since signing the compact willingly. “This is a huge deal for all of us at NAC because it effectively binds us to the proverbial umbilical cord of what UNGC represents to the world,” said Dennis Zamora, President and CEO of NAC. Zamora, the mining industry's youngest President and CEO, and the son of mining legend Manny G. Zamora, the company's founder, recently took over from Gerry H. Brimo, the current Chairman of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP). NAC had to disclose its value system and approach to doing business in the communities to UNGC in order to be deemed a member. NAC also had to explain how its relationships with all of its stakeholders are the true stories behind its best mining practices. UNGC highlights that “member companies of the UN Global Compact are expected to act in environmentally responsible ways with regard to climate change, water and sanitation, energy, biodiversity, and food and agriculture. They are also expected to recognize the link between environmental issues, and social and development priorities”.  The standard operating processes of all of the mining firms under the NAC umbrella have long been setting the stage for UNGC membership, according to JB Baylon, NAC VP for Corporate Communications. “The UNGC principles have been integrated into our corporate strategies and day-to-day operations and our membership to this global pact expose the NAC companies to a more intense peer review which in effect will be beneficial to the industry as a whole because, as you see, mining continues to fight in the reputation category and UNGC will help demonstrate our track record as we publicly report on how effectively we manage the environment, social and governance issues,” Baylon elaborated.  Responsible mining firms, such as NAC, have taken it upon themselves to commit to sustainable business strategies in all areas of activities by promoting inclusive, fair, and impactful initiatives that foster lifelong opportunities in mining communities.


Philippine Resources - March 19, 2021

Nickel Prices are Forecast to Fall in 2021, According to Fitch Solutions

The costs of nickel is expected to fall in 2021 as more supply enters the market but will be supported by recovering economies, according to Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research. Fitch Solutions raised its average nickel ore price estimate for 2021 from $15,250 to $15,750 per ton in a survey. “Prices over the past few months have progressed to multi-year highs on the back of increased optimism in the market, a weakening dollar and bullish expectations about nickel supply,” Fitch Solutions said. The current nickel price is about $18,180 per ton, according to Fitch Solutions, but it will fall as supply in key markets increases. “The end of the rainy season in the Philippines will allow the resumption of nickel mining activity to feed nickel pig iron (NPI) facilities in China, its dominant nickel ore trading partner,” Fitch Solutions said. “We are maintaining our bearish outlook on prices in 2021 compared with the year-to-date average of $18,140 per ton as increasing supply over the year reduces the market deficit, maintaining lower prices.” Nickel prices are expected to rise gradually in the long run, according to Fitch Solutions, as the global market remains undersupplied. Demand is expected to remain stable due to continued growth in China's domestic construction and auto manufacturing industries, according to the study. “We forecast China’s construction sector to grow by an average of 3.8% year on year over 2021-2029 while vehicle production grows by an average of 1.2% over the same period. The rise in demand will exceed production growth in the short term, underpinning a prolonged deficit in the market and push prices higher,” Fitch Solutions said. According to Fitch Solutions, the electric vehicle (EV) market would raise nickel demand due to the need for longer-range batteries. “We expect this trend to begin taking hold over the coming years as consumers favour EVs with longer driving distance capabilities before recharging, making nickel-based battery compositions the optimal choice for vehicle producers,” Fitch Solutions said. Chamber of Mines of the Philippines Chairman Gerard H. Brimo said that policy changes that allow the Philippines to service demand from electric vehicle battery makers could help the industry. “While the Philippines is a top nickel ore producer, we only have two processing plants that produce nickel and cobalt sulfide concentrates — intermediate products that are further processed in Japan to make electric vehicle (EV) batteries,” he said. According to him, the two plants are run by Coral Bay Nickel Corp. in Palawan and Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. in Surigao del Sur. “To enable our country to become a fully integrated EV battery supplier, certain policy changes have to be made, among them the lifting of the moratorium on new mining projects that has been in place for nearly a decade,” he said. “The industry needs full government support in terms of stable mining and investment policies that do not change mid-stream,” he added. According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the volume of the metallic mining industry's production in 2020 increased 1.13 per cent year on year to P132.21 billion (MGB). Nickel ore and by-products accounted for 51.8 per cent of the total, or P68.48 billion, according to the MGB. The amount of direct-shipping nickel ore — the type in which the metal is shipped for processing overseas — increased by 3.3 per cent to 333,962 metric tons year on year (MT). Meanwhile, mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide production dropped 2.9 per cent to 49,647 MT year over year.

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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.


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.


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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