Cagayan River Rehabilitation: Initiatives from Ridge to Reef
by Abe Almirol - June 23, 2021
The headwaters of Rio Grande de Cagayan. The Kalanguya ethnic community in the mountainous town of Ambaguio in Nueva Vizcaya Province call the rivers "wangwang" in their dialect. Rapid population growth caused the rampant conversion of mountain slopes into agricultural production. Also known as the Cagayan River, it is the longest river and the largest river in terms of volume of discharge in the Philippines. It has a total length of approximately 505 kilometres (314 mi) and a drainage basin covering 27,753 square kilometres (10,715 sq mi). Drone photo by Mike Del Rosario
After two severe weather disturbances that took place in the first half of November 2020 heavily hit eight regions in the Philippines, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte immediately signed Executive Order No. 120 creating the Task Force Build Back Better (TF-BBB) to initiate a comprehensive and integrated recovery.
Cagayan and Marikina valleys suffered the heaviest damage and human casualties as floods and its aftermath landslides placed many parts of the country in a state of calamity for weeks. Typhoon Rolly (international name: Goni) made its landfall on 1 November 2020 and several days after its onslaught and in almost the same path, Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco) carried with it heavy rains as it reached the Philippine shorelines on 11 November 2020.
Tuguegarao and Marikina cities were in deep floods as Ulysses traversed the Philippine area of responsibility. The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council reported over 2.3 million people affected across eight regions in the country. Reports indicated that 23,089 individuals displaced were moved to evacuation centres while 46,987 individuals displaced stayed outside evacuation centres. The death toll from Ulysses has reached more than 70. It has severely damaged property and infrastructure in some areas. Videos circulating in social media showed floods reaching the roofs in some parts of Cagayan and Marikina City.
Two agencies, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), were given the lead role in a task force working on an operational mode adopting the “whole-of-society approach”. All government agencies and instrumentalities were mandated by EO 120 to take part.
After eight months of work, the TF-BBB has made significant gains in pursuing rehabilitation and post-recovery initiatives. DENR has realised that problems such as this needs to consider all factors affecting the whole watershed catchment basin where floods occur. Environmental advocates and experts often refer to this approach as the ridge-to-reef initiative.
"In the months since we set out to work in November last year, we have now set into motion significant post-disaster recovery initiatives in three priority geographic areas involving the restoration of Cagayan, Marikina, and Bicol River basins," DENR Secretary and TF-BBB chair Roy A. Cimatu said.
Cagayan River Dredging: Agencies in Action
Cimatu and TF-BBB co-chairperson Secretary Mark A. Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) led the ceremonial dredging of sandbars along Cagayan River’s constricted midstream and planting of Bamboo seedlings on the riverbank of Barangay Bangag in the town of Lal-lo, Cagayan last 2 February 2021. After removing the sandbar obstacles that impede water from flowing freely, the roots of planted Bamboos should serve as a soil binder to keep the riverbank intact in the future.
There are three priority sandbars to remove near the Magapit bridge, measuring about 235 hectares with an estimated volume of seven million cubic meters, according to TF-BBB statements captured by the media. The first phase of DPWH dredging operations targeted this choke point which a past study identified as the cause of flooding in Tuguegarao City and other settlements near the riverbanks.
TF-BBB in Region 2 is chaired by Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan of the DENR and co-chaired by Regional Director Loreta Malaluan of the DPWH. In her message during one of the virtual sessions of the task force, Director Bambalan lauded the different government agencies for their support to the Build Back Better initiatives in the region.
"The regional TF-BBB is not only addressing the protection and conservation of the environment but also the welfare of barangays and families affected by the restoration of the Cagayan River," Director Bambalan said.
In that meeting, the DPWH discussed the dredging operation and riverbank protections works. The Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development gave an update on the status of resettlement projects while the Office of Civil Defence reviewed the improvement of systems and essential services.
The Department of Trade and Industry also presented its accomplishments on livelihood projects. For its part, the Department of the Interior and Local Government presented its agenda for strengthened governance and mainstreaming of disaster-risk reduction and climate change action.
Representatives of the Land Registration Authority also attended the meeting. The LRA will be the partner agency of the DENR for the easement recovery along the Cagayan River.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has trained residents who were eventually hired as laborers and equipment operators to help carry out the dredging operations. TF-BBB has also engaged the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) to provide employment assistance to 120 residents for the planting and nurturing of bamboo trees in Tuguegarao City and the towns of Alcala, Enrile, and Gattaran. This will be implemented through DOLE's "Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers" or TUPAD program.
Magat Dam blamed
In many reports published and echoed in mainstream media and social media, the opening of the Magat Dam floodgates was blamed as the cause of flooding. The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) came out with a fact check to clear its liability. Even the Senate initiated moved to investigate the matter. NIA’s acting department manager of Public Affairs and Information Office, Eden Victoria Selva, came up with a comprehensive technical response, explaining that the Magat river is just one of the many river systems draining to the Cagayan River.
“It is noted that the carrying capacity of the Cagayan River is 25,400 m3/s while the maximum volume of water released from the Magat Dam is only 6,706 m3/s indicating that water discharge of Magat Dam due to Typhoon Ulysses is not the main cause of massive flooding in the provinces of Isabela and Cagayan,” Selva said in an article that appeared in INQUIRER.net on 10 June 2021.
The controversial statements blaming the Magat Dam’s release of water also aroused public perception that points responsibility to the occupants of watershed areas in the upstream of Magat River. Those affected by the floods were quick to call for punitive actions against watershed occupants, including calls to ban mining in the province of Nueva Vizcaya, including those issued with legitimate permits to operate.
Sharing the Burden of Watershed Restoration and Protection
In the watersheds upstream of the Magat River, a 10-year project co-funded by the Republic of the Philippines and the Japan International Cooperation Agency is nearing completion. It is called the Forestland Management Project (FMP), a sequel of the several forestry sector projects implemented by the DENR’s Forest Management Bureau in the last 30 years. FMP is a holistic approach in Community Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) areas in sub-watersheds in the upper areas of the Cagayan River, particular the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao and Quirino. FMP is also present in the Upper Pampanga River in Nueva Ecija and in Jalaur River in Iloilo.
Anselmo Cabrera, an Institutional Development Specialist working at the Central Project Management Office of the FMP at the DENR Central Office, has proposed a cost sharing mechanism that Watershed Management Councils should develop for mainstreaming. He said there must be a system where every citizen or institution using water can pay for environmental services performed by duty-bearers protecting and maintaining watersheds.
Through a cost sharing mechanism, communities living in critical watershed areas will be compensated for their efforts to ensure there is sufficient forest cover. With this scheme, upland farmers could minimize soil erosion by planting permanent crops instead of clearing spots to plant vegetables and other short-term cash crops.
The FMP has so far initiated several hundred of hectares planted with coffee, Guyabano, Rambutan, and other fruit bearing trees. About 35 people’s organizations benefitting over 5,000 households, mostly from Kalanguya, Ibaloi, Isinai, Iwak and Ifugao indigenous cultural communities,
LGUs were also called to take a more active role in watershed protection. Cabrera welcomes the favourable result of the Mandanas Ruling, where local governments won in getting their share in revenues collected outside the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The Supreme Court has ruled that LGUs can now get a share from the collection of the Bureau of Customs and other national revenues. Information available from the Department of Budget Management (DBM) revealed LGUs, which include provinces, municipalities, and barangays, could get as much as 37% increase in their internal revenue allotments from the national government in 2022. A DBM advisory directed LGUs to use these additional money to fund the full devolution of services, of which, integrated social forestry is one.
Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos M. Padilla made a friendly overture when nasty comments were posted over social media by angry residents of Tuguegarao City who wallowed in deep floods for several days after Typhoon Ulysses. Some people accused people in Nueva Vizcaya of denuding the watersheds. Relief goods from Nueva Vizcaya were immediately sent in flood-stricken areas, a gesture that Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba deeply appreciated publicly. He also called for collaboration between people downstream and upstream of the Cagayan River to understand and take actions together.
During the last Watershed Management Council meeting, Gov. Padilla reiterated the importance of collaboration and networking to save watershed commons. He recalled a 2018 agreement with stakeholders which includes big water users such as SN Aboitiz and NIA, the two institutions managing the Magat hydropower and irrigation dam in Ramon, Isabela. Also included in the public pledge of support to the 2018 Nueva Vizcaya Declaration on Water are thousands of farmer’s organizations using water resources for irrigation and water utilities, like Solano Water and other entities providing services to majority of urban households.
Watershed Management Councils were potent avenues for collaboration in watershed protection and maintenance. In Davao, a bulk water project implemented by Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc. mentioned in a webinar that the Watershed Management Council has played a crucial role in mobilising communities and people.
The TF-BBB in Cagayan Valley experience could be one of the best in the current administration’s whole-of-society approach in big projects. By mobilising both government agencies and communities, it has covered all areas of concern from the top of mountain ridges to the reefs in the sea. It would be exciting to measure if the impacts are indeed better ten years from now.
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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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