Pursuit of nuclear energy to reduce PH oil dependency
by Philippine Resources - March 07, 2022
Photo: Bataan Nuclear Power Plant
The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday said President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's policy of pursuing safe and reliable nuclear energy would promote the country's national and economic security and also make it more energy-independent.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda made the statement as he expressed strong support for Duterte’s policy commitment towards nuclear energy as embodied in Executive Order No. 164, which was made public on Thursday.
“Let me make it very clear: I support the pursuit of safe and reliable nuclear energy. It is the most dependable energy source. The country’s national and economic security would be stronger with nuclear energy. We would be more energy-independent with nuclear energy. We must approach nuclear energy with eyes and minds wide open, not with irrational, sentimental fear,” he said.
He said energy sovereignty and the country's shift towards less pollutive energy sources require nuclear energy, since solar, wind, and other less stable energy sources require large tracts of land "that we do not have.”
“Nuclear is also the most dependable source of energy, and it’s not even close. Nuclear has the highest capacity factor, or the amount of times a power plant is producing at maximum capacity. The lowest is solar, which of course is dependent on sunny days,” he said.
He said the problem with being overly dependent on fossil fuels, which accounts for as much as 75 percent of electricity in the country, is that when problems arise in oil-producing states like Russia or those in the Middle East, Filipino consumers suffer consequences "no matter how remote we are from the causes of such problems.”
“It’s a matter of national security as well. If, by any chance, our sea routes through the South China Sea were somehow hampered, we would suffer terribly from oil shortages," he said.
He expressed hope that the policy commitment from Duterte will eventually pave the way for serious policy and financial investment in nuclear research.
Salceda added that Duterte’s instructions to review the viability of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant “is also good fiscal housekeeping.”
Duterte’s EO directs an inter-agency panel to look into reopening the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
“We spend around PHP40 million every year to maintain Bataan Nuclear. That means we’re spending that much on a white elephant. I think part of the mandate of the EO, which is to review the BNPP, has to include whether we should already totally decommission the asset as scrap metal, if it’s really dangerous and unsafe,” Salceda said.
Salceda said Congress may consider a “franchise approach” to operating the BNPP.
“I think we should bid it out as a Public-Private Partnership and grant its operator a franchise. The thing with nuclear power plants is the gestation period for the investment requires several decades. So our private partner will need the political and legal security of a franchise from Congress. That is definitely on the table, and I will tell President Duterte to consider that approach as well,” he said.
The EO states the country “shall ensure the peaceful use of nuclear technology anchored on critical tenets of public safety, national security, energy self-sufficiency, and environmental sustainability.”
Duterte issued the policy following the recommendation of the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee (NEP-IAC), which conducted a pre-feasibility study and public consultation on the matter.
Through EO 164, the Chief Executive has recognized that nuclear power can be a reliable, cost-competitive, and environment-friendly source of energy based on the experience of highly developed countries.
“For the country to achieve its sustained growth targets, it must ensure that it has a reliable, secure, sustainable, quality and affordable electricity supply, including sufficient reserve to guarantee that there will be no disruptions in the power supply,” the policy read.
It added that the use of nuclear energy will address the increasing demand for clean energy, rising by 4.4 percent annually, or an additional capacity of 68 gigawatts by 2040.
The BNPP was the only nuclear power plant in the region during the 1980s, as the Philippines was one of the first Southeast Asian countries to embark on a nuclear energy program.
The project, however, was mothballed because of corruption allegations and safety concerns on the use of nuclear energy.
A study conducted by Russia State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) in 2017 said the rehabilitation of BNPP will require around USD3 billion to USD4 billion. By Filane Mikee Cervantes
Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
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Marcelle P. Villegas - September 01, 2021
The 7th PH-EITI report, industry outlook transparency for oil, gas and mineral resources (Part 1)
The PH-EITI National Conference 2021 was held last July 29 with the theme "Resiliency in Transparency". PH-EITI or Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, is a government-led, multi-stakeholder initiative that implements EITI. The initiative started on 26 November 2013 under Executive Order No. 147, series of 2013. It is a government commitment first announced through EO No. 79, s. of 2012. The initiative aims to promote the open, accountable management and good governance of oil, gas and mineral resources industries. The three-hour webinar/conference featured various keynote speakers. “This is the second year that we are holding this meeting online due to the pandemic. This underscores the exceptional circumstance under which we have to operate into the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, I congratulate the EITI for its efforts to organize this national conference and produce an annual report despite all the challenges.” This was part of the Opening Remarks given by Hon. Carlos G. Dominguez, Secretary of Department of Finance.
Philippine Resources - September 02, 2021
Gov’t gets P1.7-B royalty payment from integrated energy firm
The government, through the Department of Energy (DOE), has received nearly PHP1.7 billion in royalty payment from integrated energy company Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC) for the second quarter of the year. In a statement Tuesday, SMPC said this is the highest quarterly royalty payment to the government after the firm recorded a revenue of PHP14.8 billion from April to June 2021. SMPC’s revenue in the second quarter of 2021 was supported by all-time high coal sales and higher average selling prices. Of the PHP1.7 billion turned over to the government, PHP1 billion will go to the national government that can be used to fund programs to fight coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Some PHP666 million will go to local government units (LGUs) that host SMPC mine sites --PHP136 million for the province of Antique, PHP300 million for the municipality of Caluya, and PHP230 million for Barangay Semirara. Under the Local Government Code of 1991, host LGUs of petroleum, coal, geothermal, hydrothermal, and wind facilities shall receive 40 percent of the royalty proceeds. “The pandemic has taken a significant toll on our country. We hope that our contribution can help boost our government’s response against Covid-19,” SMPC president and chief operating officer Maria Cristina Gotianun said. SMPC is the country’s lone power producer that mines its own fuel source --integrating its coal mining and power operations to create a local value chain. Based on its website, SMPC generates 900 megawatts of power with an additional 1,200 MW of coal-fired power in the pipeline.
Philippine Resources - August 06, 2021
Law Establishing PH Energy Research Institute Inked
President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law establishing the Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute to enhance the country’s capability for energy research and policy development. Republic Act 11572, signed by Duterte on July 30, establishes the institute as an independent agency attached to the University of the Philippines (UP) with a separate budget from the premier university. Under the new law, an executive director to head the institute shall be a recognized expert in energy research and policy development with at least three years experience in the energy sector and shall have a strong organizational management background. The executive director, appointed by the UP President upon recommendation of the Executive Board, shall serve in full-time capacity for a term of five years which may be renewed. The institute’s Executive Board shall be composed of seven members comprised of the UP President as the ex-officio chairperson, and at least one representative from the fields of engineering, law, science, statistics, economics, social science, and public health, either from the academe or the private sector. Four members shall come from the academe, two members shall come from the private sector, while each representative shall come from different fields. Other members of the Executive Board shall be chosen by the UP President. Each member shall have a term of three years, which can be renewed for two more terms. The first two appointees from the academe and the first appointee from the private sector shall have a term of two years, which can be renewed for two more terms. The Executive Board may invite the secretaries of various government agencies as well as legitimate consumer and advocacy groups as resource persons during its meetings and deliberations. The institute shall support further education and training for its officers and employees to include advanced degree studies, short-term programs, online courses, and participation in conferences. Research papers, data, and other resources shall be made available to the public through its website. However, proprietary or confidential data and other resources cannot be posted or disclosed unless prior consent of the source or owner of such data and resources has been obtained by the requesting party. A Special Account in the General Fund (SAGP) for energy research, which shall be maintained and managed by the Bureau of Treasury, shall be established to support the research undertaken by the institute. The SAGF for energy research shall recognize and accept grants, contributions, and donations collected for energy research. A total of PHP200 million will be appropriated out of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for the initial operating fund of the institute. Such amounts necessary for the sustainable operations of the institute shall be appropriated from the GAA based on the annual financial plan approved by the Executive Board and submitted to the Department of Budget and Management. Government agencies concerned are authorized to include in their respective annual budgets such necessary amounts as their contribution to the funding of certain research activities in the institute. Within 90 calendar days from the effectivity of the act, the UP, in consultation with the members of the academe, and other public and private stakeholders shall promulgate the necessary implementing rules and regulations of the act subject to the approval of the UP Board of Regents.
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Philippine Resources - July 01, 2022
Sampulna cites need for more mineral processing plants to boost PH production
Photo credit: DENR - Mr. Jim O. Sampulna Former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna pushed for the establishment of more mineral processing plants and utilization of rare earth deposits to help increase the country’s mineral production and revenue generation. “Mineral processing plants make the mined mineral ready to use for application. For example, limestone, if processed, will become cement, which is ready to use for construction,” Sampulna cited. “If we have more of these plants and more minerals will be processed in the country, then its value will increase even more than 100 percent, and lesser raw materials will be shipped out to other countries, like Japan or China,” he said. The DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau has so far issued 108 mineral processing permits, most of which are for construction materials. Likewise, Sampulna proposed the identification of rare earth elements (REEs), such as scandium and yttrium, in operating mines. Sampulna, who was the former DENR undersecretary for mining, said that these metals are essential parts for many high-technology devices. “The Philippines is conducive to these minerals. It could contribute to the national government through the identification and utilization of these commodities. To date, there are only a few operating mines which have identified REEs,” he said. Sampulna cited that a proposed iron mineral processing plant in Zamboanga had its groundbreaking ceremony on June 18, to support the DENR’s initiatives toward self-utilization of mineral commodities in the country. “We hope that investors will push for the opening of more processing plants in the Philippines,” he said. He also assured Filipinos that the DENR will continue to strengthen its regulation and monitoring of mining operations to ensure sustainable and responsible mineral production in the country. Article courtesy of Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Philippine Resources - June 29, 2022
DENR Awards MGB with Plaque of Appreciation for the Success of the Boracay Island Rehabilitation
Photo: The MGB Boracay Island Rehabilitation Team together with former DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu Four years after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spearheaded the rehabilitation of the Boracay Island, the DENR Acting Secretary and Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) Chair Jim O. Sampulna CESO I awarded the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) a Plaque of Appreciation for its valuable contribution to the success of the Boracay Island Rehabilitation during the BIATF’s culminating event on June 16, 2022. Boracay Island is one of the most developed and densely populated karstic islands in the Philippines. The extensive alteration of its natural landscape, as well as the alleged discharge of wastewater into the sea, posed a major environmental concern, prompting its temporary closure on April 26, 2018. The BIATF then launched the rehabilitation of Boracay island to safeguard its sustainable development. As part of the BIATF, the MGB team, led by Lands Geological Survey Division (LGSD) Chief Liza Socorro J. Manzano, was composed of technical personnel from the LGSD of MGB Central Office and the Geosciences Division of MGB Regional Office No. VI. The team conducted studies on hydrogeology, coastal geohazards, karst subsidence hazard, and geophysical investigations using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and georesistivity. The highly specialized studies sought to provide a holistic understanding of the island’s karstology and the impacts of tourism development to ensure that the rehabilitation efforts of the government are predicated on the ecological sustainability of the small island karst. Ultimately, the results of the GPR investigation on pipes discreetly disposing wastewater and polluting the seawater of Boracay which resulted in the discovery of their existence and eventual dismantling of the same is a "game-changer" relative to the implementation of science-based strategies and crafting of policies for appropriate wastewater and solid waste management in the island. Article courtesy of the MGB
Philippine Resources - June 28, 2022
The Fault with Cobalt: Overcoming the Challenges of Battery Metal Exploration
upply Co., Inc. Cobalt is an important element used to manufacture rechargeable batteries. Cobalt has unique properties that help improve thermal stability, which is critical for the batteries to function properly. It also helps improve some batteries’ energy density, so they can last longer. The demand for cobalt is high, so geologists need fast, accurate tools to help them meet these requirements. Portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) analyzers are one of these tools, as they provide on-the-spot material chemistry results. Why Choose Portable XRF for Cobalt Exploration? Portable XRF provides rapid, in situ, multielement geochemistry for immediate results in the field. This is useful for greenfield and brownfield exploration, ore grade and process control, environmental monitoring and remediation, and researching/teaching within the geological/environmental sciences. For battery metal exploration, portable XRF provides decision-quality data faster than traditional, lab-based XRF, and also enables more discriminatory laboratory sampling, helping reduce costs and improve ROI. With sample preparation, pXRF produces high-quality quantitative data that is comparable to laboratory analysis. Challenges with Analyzing Cobalt XRF is prone to inter-element interferences. Iron (Fe) on cobalt (Co) and nickel (Ni) on cobalt (Co) are two common examples. This means that when a lot of iron is present, it becomes difficult for XRF to identify cobalt at low levels. Likewise, the presence of nickel also makes it difficult for XRF to ID cobalt. Unfortunately, cobalt is routinely explored for in the presence of significant amounts of iron and nickel. To solve this challenge, we developed a GeoChem method for Vanta™ pXRF analyzers that offers improved analysis for battery metals exploration by being able to detect cobalt in the presence of iron and nickel. This innovative method overcomes the interference that has historically made it very difficult for portable XRF analyzers to detect cobalt in the presence of these other elements. The method we developed for the Vanta analyzer is built on the current GeoChem method, but with a more sophisticated way of deconvoluting the iron/cobalt/nickel peaks. Before deploying this solution, we tested it on client samples to make sure that it produced good results. Test Results We analyzed 16 samples with high iron content—9% < Fe < 50%, 50 ≤ Co ≤ 6000 ppm, Ni < 500 ppm. We also analyzed 50 samples with a moderate amount of iron—0.5% < Fe < 15%, 16 < Ni < 8000 ppm, 50 ppm < Co < 2.3%. The samples were pulps in XRF cups, and they were analyzed using 60 seconds per beam with no corrections. The graphs below show excellent agreement between the results obtained from a lab and results obtained using a Vanta portable XRF analyzer, indicating that the modified GeoChem method can accurately detect the presence of cobalt when it’s in the presence of both large and moderate amounts of the interfering elements iron and nickel. Geologists now have another important tool that they can rely on when exploring for new sources of this vital element.
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