What does "going back to work" look like in Mining?
by Patricia A. O. Bunye - June 29, 2021
Photo Credit: Mines and Geosciences Bureau
In Issue 4 of Philippine Resources, I recapped how much of my 2020 was spent on Zoom calls and webinars. A year and a half into the pandemic, and after 15 months of working from home, the situation has not changed, and it looks like this will be our way of life for some time to come.
Major online events were conducted recently by the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). First was the Consultative Meeting on May 19 on the Implementing Rules and Regulations on Executive Order No. 130, with Day 1 being attended by mining companies and Day 2 by NGOs and the academe. Second was the MGB’s Stakeholders’ Forum on Recent Policy Issuances Relating to Mining, also held over two days on June 8 and 9.
The introduction to the Consultative Meeting was an opportunity to review the issuances of the DENR and MGB from 2015 to 2020, the more significant of which were discussed in greater detail in the MGB’s Stakeholders’ Forum.
In the open forum that followed the Consultative Meeting, MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano confirmed that, although EO 130 does not explicitly refer to the lifting of the ban on open pit mining, the intent is to lift it since Section 11 or the repealing clause of the its proposed IRR explicitly refers to Department Administrative Order 2017-10 on the ban on open pit mining.
The MGB’s Stakeholders’ Forum offered a deeper dive into the following issuances, with the formal presentations being followed by Q&As with the participants both on Zoom and Facebook:
- MGB Memorandum Circular No. 2019-001 (Clarificatory Guidelines on the Industrial Sand and Gravel Permit)
- MGB Memorandum Circular No. 19-08 (Clarification on the Definition of the Open Pit Mining Method as per DAO No. 2017-10 and other Surface Mining Methods)
- MGB Memorandum Circular No. 20-010 (Harmonizing the Mining Production Capacity Threshold or Limit of a Mining Permit/Contract and the Pertinent Environmental Compliance Certificate)
- DENR Administrative Order (Guidelines on the Automatic Renewal of the Exploration Period and the Timely Declaration of the Mining Project Feasibility under the EP, MPSA, FTAA, and Similar Mining Tenements) [For Publication, as this column was being written]
- MGB Memorandum Order No. 20-01: Care and Maintenance Program for Mining Projects
- MGB Memorandum Circular No. 2020-04 (Clarificatory Guidelines for the Establishment of the Contingent Liability and Rehabilitation Fund for Dredging Projects/Activities pursuant to DPWH-DENR-DILG-DOTR Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, Series of 2019)
- Memorandum Order No. 2020-007 (Policy on Online Filing of Application and Payment)
- MGB Memorandum Circular No. 2019-002 (Supplemental Guidelines to MGB Memorandum Circular No. 2018-01)
- MGB Memorandum No. 2018-01 (Guidelines in the Conduct of Apprehension, Seizure, Confiscation and Disposition of illegally sourced minerals/mineral products and by-products, tools, conveyances and equipment used)
- MGB Memorandum Circular No. 2019-006 (Clarificatory Guidelines on the Rules of Appeal)
Dredging & Offshore Mining
- MGB Memorandum Circular No. 2019-07 (Clarificatory Guidelines on Section 5.1.2.c of DPWH-DENR-DILG-DOTr JMC No. 2019-01)
- MGB Memorandum Circular No. 2020-008 (Revised Guidelines on Offshore Mining - Revision to MGB Memorandum Circular 2016-05 "Guidelines on Offshore Mining")
While the aforementioned webinars with the DENR/MGB are illustrative of government’s engagement and cooperation with its stakeholders, on the same day, June 9, in another time zone, the World Association of Mining Lawyers (WAOML) was conducting a webinar on the international arbitration of mining disputes against governments. The global panel described an upward trend in mining arbitration against governments and government entities, i.e., since 1990, there have been around 100 recorded mining arbitration cases against governments, 73 of which have been brought in the last 10 years. Within the last few days before the WAOML webinar, 4 new ones were brought against the governments of Colombia, Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Turkey.
International arbitration against governments are usually resorted to when mining projects, which are typically long-term and complex, and depend on a stable legal, fiscal and political environment, experience major shifts such as resource nationalism, and/or unexpected changes in financial/tax/royalty regimes.
in 40% of the cases that have been brought, the mine could not start operating, and there was government action or inaction that led to the investment dispute. in more than half of the cases, the projects were operating, but the mine had to close down, because the license was not renewed or the investor lost control because of an expropriation.
Interestingly, Latin America leads the way with the most number of international mining arbitration cases filed, with Asia and Africa following.
From the perspective of the mining companies that file the cases, international arbitration is just one tool in their arsenal, and often it is, as expressed by one speaker, an ‘absolute last resort’ because, once the arbitration is instituted, it will inevitably lead to the breakdown of the relationships that have been built. It will also take time and resources to complete, and even assuming that the company obtains the desired award, it still needs to have the award enforced.
On the lighter and brighter side, the International Women in Mining (WIM) Alliance, which I have written about previously, recently held the first of new series of global calls via Zoom which was attended by the counterpart organizations of Diwata-Women in Resource Development from just about every corner of the globe. It was gratifying to hear how diverse yet similar our experiences are, and how much common ground there is for us to start from. This significant as the Alliance is about aligning the interests of these international women’s mining groups through multilateral, mutually beneficial relationships and leveraging their collective strength to pursue a common agenda, without integration, control or affiliation. For me, the fact that, through technology, it is so much easier now to reach out to other ‘sisters in mining’ is a plus in itself. Pre-pandemic, it would have taken attendance in an international conference to meet even a quarter of this group.
With technology allowing me to be as, if not more, productive, than being at my office, am I looking forward to going back? Even with more people being vaccinated, the discussion is less about ‘going back to work’ than what ‘going back to work’ will look like, i.e., how to implement a hybrid workplace. For the mining industry, which certainly is not predominated by desk-bound jobs, there is already a trend worldwide to see how certain repetitive tasks can be automated versus those which need analytical skills, and therefore a demand for individuals with such capabilities. Part of this shift is for artificial intelligence, machine learning and process-automation experts to oversee new ways of working. In this regard, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report identifies leadership and social influence as a main focus of mining companies’ reskilling or upskilling programs. In any industry, empathy is vital to mitigating the potential negative impact of remote working on mental health, and managers need superior communication skills to manage isolated teams. Thoughts to further ponder on in a future column!
Marcelle P. Villegas - March 17, 2021
The Aftermath of the Carmen Copper Mine Landslide
After the tragic landslide that occurred at the open pit’s north wall at around 4:15 p.m. on Monday, 21 Dec. 2020, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7 ordered the immediate suspension of the mine operations in Carmen Copper Corporation (CCC). According to MGB’s report last 22 Dec. 2020 on their official website, they stated “Initial investigations revealed there was no mining activity in the area on that day.”  On that day, landslide debris fell on the water at the pit bottom. This has an elevation of 41m above sea level. The landslide created a tsunami-like wave that reached an elevation of 105m in the southern portion of the pit where the workers were located. On 22 Dec. 2020, four fatalities were recorded along with six missing.  Further on, an assessment of the area was conducted by Director Pacquito Melicor Jr. (DENR Central Visayas Regional Executive Director), Director Armando Malicse (MGB 7 Regional Director), MGB Region 7 team, and Mine Safety, Environment and Social Development Division. CCC and Toledo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management team continued their search and retrieval operations on a limited scale due to unstable condition. MGB 7 technical personnel continues its on-site inspection and investigation in accordance with R.A. 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995) and the DENR Administrative Order Nos. 2010-21 (Consolidated IRR of RA 7942) and 2000-98 (Mine Safety and Health Standards).  A list of names of workers who died was given by CCC to the Toledo Police Station Chief, Lt. Col. Junnel Caadlawon. The second list contains the names of those who are still missing.  Those who died from the landslide are the following: Junil S. Lagola, age 44, from Barangay Don Andres Soriano, leadman Ernesto G. Caspe, age 54, from Dasmamac, Lutopan, checker Juan M. Tapang, age 44, from Don Andres Soriano Village, heavy equipment operator Dionisio Labang, from barangay Uling, Naga, backhoe operator/Anseca Contractor Those who are still missing are the following: Jose B. Carpentero, age 31, from Barangay Biga, heavy equipment operator from Mine Services Department Jonwel S. Herediano, age 33, from Barangay Don Andres Soriano, pump operator Simeon B. Laconas, age 33, from Barangay Biga, leadman - mine services department John Paul L. Resuelo, age 27, from Barangay Biga, heavy equipment operator Renante F. Sepada, age 35, from Barangay Bagakay, pump operator Alfred C. Tautho, age 33, from Barangay Mainggit, welder Carmen Copper Corp. (CCC) expressed their support and commitment to provide free education until college and allowances to all the children of its employees who died or are still missing after the tragedy last December. Based on a press statement of the company last 27 Dec. 2020, they have provided various forms of financial and other assistance to the immediate families of its deceased workers.  Additionally, CCC also offered employment opportunities for the victims’ next of kin, spouse and children. “CCC has given the same attention to the immediate family of the missing CCC employees and will afford them of the same commitments CCC provided to the family of the deceased,” according to the company’s statement. CCC also extended support to the family of the contractor who was among the victims.  On 8 Feb. 2021, Toledo City Mayor, Hon. Marjorie Piczon-Perales along with Vice-Mayor Jay B. Go met the families of the victims at the open shed of the City Hall Garden to provide them with “ayuda” or financial assistance. This was posted on the Toledo City Public Information Office social media page. The mayor granted the families of deceased workers the amount of Php15 million. For the victims who are injured, they were given Php5 million. Additionally, they were all given food packs.  On 29 Jan. 2021, the Office of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go distributed assistance to the Toledo City residents who were affected by the landslide in CCC mine. This was held at the Carmen Copper Recreation Center, Toledo City, Cebu. During the distribution, 248 families received meals, financial assistance, food packs, vitamins, face masks and face shields. Senator Go also gave bicycles and shoes to selected recipients, and computer tablets for their children to be used for online classes. Health and safety protocols were strictly implemented to avoid the further spread of COVID-19. The Senator was not present during the distribution but he sent them a video message with words of encouragement.  Senator Go also offered assistance to those who needed major medical operations such as heart surgeries. He urged those in need of such medical attention to seek assistance from any of the Malasakit Centers in the province.  While the local and national government along with CCC are busy sending assistance to the families of the victims of the December landslide, mining industry in general received backlashes from various groups who believe that the deaths and injuries could have been prevented. Barely a month before the landslide, there had been reports from residents of Barangay Biga in Toledo City who claim they warned officials of the MGB Central Visayas and CCC as well about large cracks in the village prior to the landslide. However, they said that their appeal was not properly addressed.  Biga Barangay Captian Pedro Sepada Jr. told a local newspaper in Cebu last 29 Dec. 2020 that prior to the landslide, barangay officials called for an emergency consultative meeting on 26 Nov. 2020 with representatives of CCC, MGB 7 and Biga residents to talk about the possible measures to be done after the cracks were discovered. Sepada said that MGB 7 Director Armando Malicse and CCC Vice President for Safety, Ignas Alburo were present. No representative from the Toledo City government was present. Sepada noted that during the meeting, they were not given a concrete response or alternative solution by CCC or MGB to provide assurance to the residents that they will all be safe while mining operations are ongoing. But Sepada said that they were simply told by MGB 7 and CCC officials that their place remained safe.  According to the local news reports in Toledo City, residents now believe the huge cracks caused the fatal landslide. “It was only after the landslide last Dec. 21, that they declared our area to be unsafe within a radius of 600-meter distance from the pipeline of Carmen Copper. They now say it’s unsafe. What happened to their guarantee of safety before?”  Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said last December that they shall leave the investigation to MGB before implementing any course of action. She mentioned that she will leave it up to the MGB 7 to decide whether or not CCC has any liability. Garcia said, “The investigation is not our expertise nor is that our mandate. MGB has already issued a suspension of operations and MGB is going to undertake the investigation. So let’s put things in proper perspective. While the investigation is ongoing, perhaps it is best to wait for the results.”  “I am not taking any sides. I want to be as objective as possible. However, there are some personalities who are not as objective because they have their own interest in Carmen Copper. They want to control so that they can do business with Carmen Copper. This is a warning to those who want to make it difficult.” Garcia also noted that CCC mining operations have given so much to Toledo City in terms of employment and the city’s development. She said that a thorough investigation is needed in order to prevent those with “personal interest” in the mining operations of CCC from ruining the lives of so many people working there.  Garcia assured the Province will provide assistance and support to the families of miners who died and those who remain missing after the landslide.  Renester P. Suraltra, a college professor wrote a commentary last December on SunStar Cebu with the title “Toledo tragedy: The untold story”. He wrote, “Who is always responsible for any mining accident? Is it nature or man? Who is at fault? Is it the bad weather or the safety engineer?” “Accidents may happen in the workplace but it can also be avoided. We can’t discount the fact that accidents can happen because of unsafe supervision, lack of situation awareness, and failure to identify the potential threat. That’s the job of the safety engineer under the direction and supervision of sympathetic and responsible management. If workers are dying frequently then responsible mining is a big issue.” “There is another lesson to be learned in the Toledo mining tragedy. We should never compromise safety and security. We can’t always blame nature out of man’s folly. One should think that the mining industry provides short-term revenue but long-term harmful effect on nature and the environment. Life is much precious than copper and gold.”  Acknowledgement: Ryan Peter Vivo Penaranda for Cebuano to English translation from some news articles Reference:  Mines and Geosciences Bureau Press Release (22 Dec. 2020)."Carmen Copper Mine In-Pit Landslide Incident".  ANV (23 Dec. 2020). SunStar Cebu. "Listahan sa namatay, missing sa Carmen pit gipagawas".  WBS and PR (27 Dec. 2020). SunStar Cebu. "Carmen Copper Corp. commits to help landslide victims' families".  Toledo City Public Information Office Facebook Page (8 Feb. 2021). "Families of the victims of the land in Biga Pit Gitagaan ug ayuda in Toledo".  Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Facebook Page (31 Jan. 2021). "Hundreds of Toledo City, Cebu residents affected by a copper mine landslide receive assistance from Senator Bong Go".  Sabalo, Wenilyn (30 Dec. 2020). SunStar Cebu. "Biga chief claims please ignored before landslide". Retrieved from - https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1881418/Cebu/Local-News/Biga-chief-claims-pleas-ignored-before-landslide  Suralta, Renester P. (27 Dec. 2020). SunStar Cebu. "Tell it to SunStar: Toledo tragedy: The untold story". Retrieved from - https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1881194
Marcelle P. Villegas - March 17, 2021
First Offshore Magnetite Iron Mining in the PH
Last December, Apollo Global Capital’s (PSE: APL) subsidiary, JDVC Resources Corporation, announced that Department of Environment and Natural Resources granted them a permit to start the commercial operations of the country’s first offshore magnetite iron mining project. According to JDVC and APL consultant, Jun Herrera, the mining operations in Cagayan are expected to start by mid or end of February. He said that the first newly-built deep sea mining vessel arrived in Cagayan and needed to take shelter for now due to strong sea currents. In relation to this project, they assured the government that there will be minimal impact on the marine ecosystem as per the studies and survey conducted by a Singapore-based company. Their study shows that there is no coral or aquamarine life within the mining area which is located 150 meters below sea level. Herrera stated that three more vessels are expected to arrive this year. The vessel is capable of commercial extraction, sampling, testing and production of magnetite iron.  With regards to the apprehension of some residents of Ballesteros in Cagayan that this offshore mining operation will destroy the coral ecosystem, APL addressed the issue by stating that such assumption by the locals has no basis. APL stated last January, “We won’t even be mining in their waters. In the first place, our mining operation will be in the waters of Buguey and Gonzaga towns, and at a distance of over 14 kilometers. That’s more than two horizon lengths away from the shoreline.” Lazaro Ramos, a resident of Ballesteros, sent a formal complaint to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu. Ramos warned them of the possible “catastrophe” that the offshore mining will bring about should it resumes. He mentioned in comparison a study conducted by Craig Smith from the University of Hawaii regarding the ocean seabed in the NE Pacific abyssal waters. APL, however, contradicted this argument by Ramos and said that the study by Craig Smith is applicable to a different part of the ocean and not necessarily comparable with the mining site in Cagayan. “That’s a different part of the Pacific. It looks at the ocean bed more than 200 meters below sea level, whereas we can only go down to 150 meters with current technology. Moreover, the Smith study did not look at magnetite iron reserves. From the experience of countries like Indonesia, Japan and New Zealand, magnetite iron is known to be toxic to corals, fish and other aquamarine life.” Moreover, JDVC emphasised on the study results done by the Singapore-based survey company whom they commissioned to conduct a full “sea bottom profile” of its mining tenements off Cagayan. As mentioned, their study reveals no corals or aquamarine life in the area. APL also reported that they have done their part in coordinating with the locals and providing corporate social responsibility activities for the residents of Buguey and Gonzaga. “We’re proud to say that over 90 percent of the residents support us and are even anxious for us to get started.” According to Herrera, the municipalities of Aparri, Buguey and Gonzaga received funding from the Development Bank of the Philippines. These are the municipalities covered by the mining project. DBP grated JDVC a grant worth $8-million credit line for the magnetite iron mining project. Herrera said, “We have proven to them [DBP] that it’s environmentally safe.” He added, “The DBP loan has zero borrowings yet as of now, hence, our company remains to be zero debts and internally funded by our shareholders. The DBP loan will only kick off once we have the letter of credit presented to the bank for the discounting the letter of credit of export buyers, to obtain a 90-day working capital, to fund the production of the ordered iron ore.” This project is seen as profitable, because magnetite mining has a strong market globally. In China, for example, they consider the steel industry as their “roadmap for their economic recovery”. Herrera mentioned that JVDC is an ISO-certified company. This means that there is an assurance that they shall comply with environmental standards. With all these assurances of a promising mining project ahead, some still have apprehension about it, perhaps rooting down to past incidents. In November 2020, the Cagayan Valley region was greatly affected by the Super Typhoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses. The two simultaneous typhoons are classified as category-5 and category-4 tropical cyclones respectively. As an effect, the devastation was great marked by massive flooding in Isabela and Cagayan provinces.  The residents in those areas blame the National Irrigation Association (NIA) for the flood when they opened the floodgates of the nearby Magat Dam on the last minute. The two provinces were submerged in high waters as high as a two-storey building. NIA on the other hand firmly contradicted such claim and explained that the release of water from Magat Dam was not the main cause of flooding. NIA points out that proper and sufficient warnings were given to those communities in low-lying areas. Additionally, they stated that the volume of water released was only 25% of the carrying capacity of the Cagayan River. The river is the longest stream in the Philippines that serves as the catch basin of the nine provinces in three regions.  Aside from the two typhoons, a second issue related with the river was about the illegal magnetite mining at the mouth of the Cagayan River in the municipality of Aparri. The provincial board of Cagayan appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte in 2019 to stop the dredging operations of Pacific Offshore Exploration, Inc. (POEI) due to potential threat to the environment and the livelihood of the locals. The Chinese company Zhong Hai Gravel Group headed by Dong Biao Su is POEI’s partner in that operation. The company was controversial recently after the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Coast Guard raided its Zhonhai 68 dredging vessel during a maritime security patrol off the Bataan coast. “Bureau of Customs are poised to issue a warrant of seizure and detention against the undocumented vessel.” However, the Chinese Embassy in Manila claimed that the vessel is technically non-Chinese because it is registered under an African flag of convenience.  Currently, JDVC Resources Corp. is the first and only company that was granted a declaration of mining project feasibility by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to extract magnetite sand and other minerals in Cagayan. In response to Cagayan’s decade-old black sand mining problem, the launching of Cagayan River Rehabilitation Project last February 2 is seen to solve the problem. DENR stated early in February that mining regulations will strictly monitor the extraction of magnetite or black sand in the coastal waters and rivers of Cagayan province.  With regards to APL’s/JDVC Resources Corp.’s offshore magnetite iron mining, MGB Director Wilfredo Monaco stated the project has gone through an environmental impact assessment system processes and the company has secured an environmental clearance certificate (ECC) from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).  “JDVC has undergone environmental impact assessment and the company was issued an ECC, which means environmental issues have been considered by the EMB,” Moncano stated. Magnetite or black sand mining is supposed to be banned in the Philippines, but Moncano explained that the extraction of the said mineral offshore is allowed. He said, “Mining in shoreline is prohibited but offshore mining is allowed. If it is at least 1,500 meters from the shoreline going out to the sea, it is allowed.” He also assured that the company’s operation will be monitored by the MGB and EMB, that in case of any destruction or damage to the coastal or marine ecosystem by JDVC Resources Corp., there will be a corresponding penalty under the mining law. “What is important is that the JDVC will not cause damage to the coastal or marine ecosystem,” he said. As for mining in rivers like in the Cagayan River, it is also allowed as long as the primary purpose of the project is river rehabilitation or restoration. One example is their plan to extract some 7 million metric tons of sand to remove three of the 19 sandbars along is stretch. Moncano said that the DENR-MGB will also monitor the dredging operations because while the activity is primarily flood mitigation, the minerals to be extracted include magnetite sand.  Moncano stated, “Black sand mining is also part of the purposes that’s why we will assess the mineral content of the river channel. If the magnetite sand contained surpasses the threshold of 6 percent, we will charge the company of 4-percent excise tax.” He said that every shipment will undergo mineral assessment. (--Marcelle P. Villegas, PRJ) References:  Flores, Alena Mae S. (31 Jan. 2021). Manila Standard. "Apollo Global announces subsidiary’s start of magnetite mining operations in Cagayan".  Gamboa, J. Albert (5 Feb. 2021). Business World. "Building back better in Cagayan Valley".  Mayuga, Jonathan L. (4 Feb. 2021). Business Mirror. "MGB exec vows to keep tabs of Cagayan River magnetite quarry operations set to start in February".
Marcelle P. Villegas - March 12, 2019
How wars and historical events affected the mining industry
By Marcelle P. Villegas For the past centuries, the mining industry in the Philippines was greatly affected by the changes of government or colonisers, events around the world and more. It seems that whenever there is war, there is also a rise in the demand in certain mineral resources or a fall in the production rate of some minerals. August is History Month in the Philippines as promoted by Government and Education sectors. The Philippines is rich in natural resources, cultural heritage and more noticeably, we are rich in history which brought progress or hindrance in economic growth through the years. Last August, during the Philippine Mining and Exploration Association (PMEA) Monthly Membership Meeting, one of the keynote speakers is Mr Hernulfo “Nonoy” Ruelo, Geologist Consultant. The title of his presentation is “Copper-Gold Discoveries and Mine in the Philippines - Understanding the Past, in order to make sense of the Current, and the Future”. It was a well-researched report and analysis on how historical events, like wars or change in leaders, affected the mining sector and the socio-economic status of the country. The presentation takes us back in time with some rare vintage photos from the past. During the pre-Spanish Period, the earliest use of metal in the Philippines by our Filipino ancestors was the use of copper for ornamentation, not for tools or currency. Other metals used were gold and tumbaga (copper alloyed with gold). “Gold was the major form of ‘currency’ among the early Filipinos and one of the first things they [ancestors] taught their children was the knowledge of gold and the weights with which they measured.” (From the book by Evelyn J. Caballero, 1996. “Gold from the Gods: Traditional small-scale miners in the Philippines”. Giraffe Books, Quezon City.( p 196 and 263) On note, the pre-colonial mining methods had no environmental impact on land, water, air and people. Pre-Spanish Period Mining in the Philippines started in the 3rd century when gold was traded with China and the Javanese empire where the height of this trade was during 12th to 14th century. The Chinese were the first foreign miners. Gold is both a commodity and a medium of exchange. When the Spaniards arrived in the 1521, gold was already being mined, traded and used as jewelry or ornamentation by the native Filipinos. In fact, 16th century Filipino noblemen were decked in gold. Colonial Period Under Spain 1500s - 1898: Paracale and Cordillera were the oldest goldfields. From 1500s - 1700s, gold was one of the tributes collected by the Spanish government and given to the King of Spain. In 1583 and 1595, an expedition was sent to mine in Cordillera but was a failure due to the resistance of the Igorots. “Gold mining before the coming of the Americans was primarily in the hands of enterprises organized in the Philippines by Spaniards and Chinese mestizos and Filipinos, with a few other companies trying, without success, to produce commercially.” (Ref. - Wirkus 1974) In 1600 to 1700, about 10,000 ounces of gold per annum were shipped to Spain, and the gold shipments to Spain increased from 1800 to 1895. For copper, the Spaniards opened the first copper mine in the country in 1842, called the Carawisan copper mine in Antique province. From 1864 to 1874, the Contrabro-Filipino Company operated Mankayan Copper Mine. Gold mining made its comeback in commerce in 1892 where concessions to foreigners were first granted. The British explorer, Frank Karuth of Philippine Mineral Syndicate, led the commercial-scale hard-rock and alluvial gold operations in Paracale District until 1895. (Ref. - Chaput 1987) Philippine Revolution 1896 – 1902: With the rise of the Philippine revolt against Spain, in 1896, mining operations at Paracale dwindled until 1902 when the Filipino-American War ended. The Organic Act of 1902 was created which organized companies, issued patents, and established the Geological & Mining Science Department. By 1927, gold was the third best export commodity and initiated by the Philippine (Manila) Stock Exchange. In the following years, the Mining Act of 1935 was released (Commonwealth Act 137) which introduced the Regalian Doctrine, the concept of Mining Lease, and the establishment of Bureau of Mines. The Americans invested US$ 34.2M in gold production. Mining for copper was reopened in 1936, the same time when the Japanese savvy for copper was high and led to the ‘discovery’ of the first large porphyry copper deposit in the country. Commonwealth Period 1937 - 1941: This period in Philippine history was considered a golden era when Manila was highly modernised and was one of the most beautiful cities in Southeast Asia. In fact, in 1937, we had the best and well-equipped airport in the Southeast Asia, the Nielson Airport. (This is now Ayala Triangle Park in Makati City, and the original Nielson Tower is now “Blackbird” Restaurant.) Although this elegant airport was primary used as an aviation school, it also paved the way for trade and commerce for foreign investors. Philippine Airline made its first commercial flight in 1941, from Nielson Airport to Baguio. The Philippines was the largest gold producer in Asia and second only to California in world production. During the American period, 9 million oz of gold was produced from 1906 – 1941. Japanese Occupation 1942 – 1945: Being a colony of United States of America, the Philippines got itself involved in war against the Japanese who invaded Manila in 1942. The Japanese took over Lepanto and the Hixbar mines (Rapu-rapu) and was able to mine and extract 11,000 tonnes of copper. No gold production was recorded. With the aggressive strategies of conquering their neighboring countries, Japan was unstoppable that time in their collection of natural resources that were needed to fuel their warships and planes and the production of weapons. Battleships Musashi and Yamato where the two giants in naval power that made Japan feared by other nations. The two battleships were defeated though in the Philippines during the Battle in Leyte Gulf in October 1945 which paved the way to the Liberation of Manila and eventually the whole country. Post-war Reconstruction 1946 – 1954: Those post-war years were hard times for all war-torn countries. However, with the need for repairs infrastructure after WWII, there was an increase in the global demand for copper. Some gold mines in the Philippines were rehabilitated but the problems were lack of capital and low market demand. Copper production re-started in 1947. Since Manila was the ground zero and battlefield of the war that ended WWII in the Pacific (Battle of Manila in 1945), there were serious damages in the country’s economy and on the mining industry. Korean War 1954 – 1960: For the Filipino soldiers who fought the Japanese during WWII, the Korean War was the first time for them to fight a battle in a foreign land. Although this war affected Southeast Asia directly, the gold prices maintained. However, in mid 1950s, the gold mines collapsed due to a recession period. The copper price rose slight due to high world demand. More Philippine copper mines opened. Vietnam War 1960-1975: In 1972, U.S. President Nixon took dollar off the gold standard. It was fixed at $35 since 1934, but gold prices are allowed to float free which devalued dollar to $38. In 1973, world gold price jumped from $38 to $120. World copper rate hit high at $0.90 in 1974. World copper mine production was at its peak. Martial Law 1972 - 1986: During Martial Law in the Philippines, copper price trended upward where the country’s copper production continued and boomed in 1980 where it reached its peak. It was in 1980 when Philippine copper production was recorded the highest at 306 Kt. However, the World Oil Crisis in 1973 - 1980 brought about a decline in copper demand. World Recession in 1982 – 1984 pulled down the copper prices. Philippine inflation devalued the Philippine peso and there was an increase in production costs, materials and equipment. The Global recession resulted in a decline in copper demand. The Philippine gold production was sustained and gold prices surged from 1978 to 1980. The modern Gold Bloom in 1980s brought about the rise of unregulated Small Scale Mining. In summary, the explanatory variables of growth and decline in PH copper industry in the 1950s-1980s are: - For Copper resources: risk capital or investments, development in the world’s copper market, technology, human capital in mining, domestic social, legal, and political environment . - For the gold industry: gold resources, competition, commodity price, production costs, technology (bulk mining, milling, treatment), damages – natural & man-made disasters (Reference). T.M. Santos 2001 . Growth of Copper Production: Determinants and Empirical Evidence. Social Science Diliman, July-December 2001. 2:2, 1-49.) There were other historical events in the Philippines that followed like: EDSA Revolution: 1986-1992 - gold averaged $381, copper $1.02 – There was investment uncertainty and several mines closed. New mining laws were crafted like the 1991 RA 7076 (Small Scale Mining Act). The 1987 Constitution replaced Leasehold into Agreements system. From 1990s – 2004, there was collapse of the local mining industry. However from 2004 – 2009, there was a revitalization of the mining industry with EO 270 National Policy Agenda – Mineral Action Plan. Gold price surged from $410 to $873. Copper production hit lowest in 2004 at 16 Kt since 1957. The year 2005 brought global gold boom where Philippine gold-copper mines had expansion and reopening. The Aquino Administration from 2010-2016 was within the Global Mining Boom period (2010 - 2013). It was a successful period for Philippine mine exploration, prospect drill-testing, and resource evaluation drilling. In conclusion, Mr Ruelo presented a list of challenges that miners will need to face at the present time, namely: - Fewer outcropping “easy-to-find” deposits are now left except in high-risk and “inaccessible” areas. - Current mining operations will encounter increasing real costs (labor, materials, energy, environmental, community impact) that will affect production. - The next generation of lower-grade copper/gold projects require significantly higher metal prices to justify development. - We need to discover high-quality or better gold/copper resources, even deeper ones that can be economically mined – e.g. in greenfields and brownfields.
Philippine Resources - October 19, 2021
TVI Pacific's 30.66% owned TVIRD Balabag Gold and Silver Project Completes Second Doré Shipment
TVI Pacific Inc. is pleased to announce the completion of a second shipment of gold doré from the Balabag gold and silver project. Balabag is owned 100% by TVI Resource Development Phils., Inc. a Philippines corporation in which TVI holds a 30.66% interest, and is located in Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines. Continuing Gold Production at Balabag Gold-Silver Project : Further to the announcement of September 30th, 2021, in which the Company announced the first shipment of gold doré from Balabag and reported various operating statistics, TVIRD has further confirmed that Balabag mill plant availability month-to-date has been 85% and that it is currently processing at a month-to-date average rate of 1,064 tpd. The second shipment in the amount of 894 kg of gold doré has been delivered to the designated refinery and contains 641 ounces of Au and 27,552 ounces of Ag for 992 gold equivalent ounces. Gross proceeds from the second shipment are US $1.8 million. The second shipment of gold doré follows the completion of the first shipment on September 30, 2021. Activities at site continue to be concentrated on optimizing the operation and the ramping-up of throughput to 2,000 tpd. The average head grade month-to-date has been 1.8 g/t Au and 95.1 g/t Ag while the average recoveries month-to-date have been 93% for Au and 86% for Ag. The run of mine ("ROM") mineralized stockpile, in-pit stockpile and crushed mineralized stockpile currently contains an approximate 100,000 tonnes of mineralized material, much of which is low to marginal grade and continues to be mined to expose the higher-grade mineralized resource during waste stripping and bench forming. The stockpiles have an average grade of 1.3 g/t Au and 47.7 g/t Ag. It is expected that the average grade of feed will increase as higher-grade mineralized resource is mined. Ongoing exploration drilling is continuing at Balabag with TVIRD having completed to date twenty-six (26) drillholes for a total meterage of 3,720 meters in its Phase 5B drilling program. A total of twenty-eight (28) holes are expected to be drilled with an estimated meterage of 4,200 meters. The Phase 5B drilling program together with assays and reporting is currently expected to be completed in Q4 2021. "We are pleased with the progress at Balabag having now completed the second shipment of gold doré within days of the first shipment being delivered to the designated refinery. Our focus continues to be to further ramp-up throughput as we continue to optimize the process but in general the equipment is working well", said Mr. Cliff James, Chairman and CEO of TVI and Chairman of TVIRD, "We look forward also to our soon being able to share with all stakeholders the results of Phase 5B drilling as TVIRD continues to pursue its growth strategy with ongoing drilling at Balabag."
Philippine Resources - October 19, 2021
Calbayog City coastal road project 83% done
A portion of the Calbayog City Coastal Road project in Calbayog City. The project, which is up for completion in 2025, is now 83 percent complete, the Regional Development Council’s regional project monitoring committee reported on Monday (Oct. 18, 2021). (Photo courtesy of Mel Senen Sarmiento) About 83 percent of the Calbayog City Coastal Road Project is now completed after four years of implementation, the Regional Development Council’s regional project monitoring committee (RPMC) reported on Monday. Construction of the PHP1.16-billion project meant to curb traffic jams in Calbayog’s commercial district has been implemented since 2018. It involves the construction of a road, embankment, and bridge. The government is eyeing to complete the project in 2025. “The construction of the Calbayog City Coastal Road aims to create alternative routes in the city to decongest traffic in Calbayog City proper. However, certain segments of the already funded network have yet to break ground,” the RPMC reported. It will start with the construction of a bridge across the Calbayog River since the work will affect the docking of motor boats carrying passengers and products to island communities. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Philippine Ports Authority will find a spot as a temporary dock for the motor boats. “Calbayog City is a fast-growing commercial hub. With its flourishing economy comes the need for bigger and better thoroughfares to accommodate the increasing traffic volume and weight,” the DPWH Samar first district engineering office said in a separate statement. From 2018 to 2021, the project’s work is centered on the construction of embankment and road with a total allotment of PHP1.14 billion. Of the total, PHP333.71 million was released in 2018, PHP281.07 in 2019, PHP268.52 million in 2020, and PHP265.76 million in 2021. The multi-year project that will build a 4.67-kilometer road and bridge will connect the villages of Rawis, San Policarpo, Aguit-itan, allowing vehicles to by-pass the busy road of Calbayog City’s commercial district. By Sarwell Meniano Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
Philippine Resources - October 18, 2021
Siguil Hydro Power Plant in Sarangani On-Schedule to deliver Renewable Energy in 2022
The Alsons Power group’s 14.5 mega-watt (MW) ₱ 4.5 billion run- of- river hydroelectric power plant at the Siguil River basin in Maasim, Sarangani Province is on- track to begin operations in 2022 to provide a source of renewable power to key areas of Mindanao. The photo shows ongoing work on the plant’s powerhouse that will contain the hydropower turbine and generator set which will produce electricity using water from the Siguil River. It will also house the power facility’s control Room and offices for administration, operations and maintenance. Alsons Power- Mindanao’s firs private sector power generator plans to develop at least seven more run of river hydro power facilities in different parts of Mindanao and Negros Occidental. The group currently operates four power facilities in Mindanao with a total generating capacity of 468 MW serving over 8 million people in 14 cities and 11 provinces.