DPWH, JICA KICKS OFF 5-YEAR CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT TO IMPROVE COASTAL ENGINEERING AGAINST DISASTERS
by Philippine Resources - June 15, 2022
Photo credit: The Department of Public Works and Highways
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) held the kick-off meeting for the project set to improve Philippine coastal condition for disaster risk resiliency and infrastructure.
Led by DPWH Undersecretary for Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Operations Emil K. Sadain, the meeting held June 13, 2022 at the DPWH Central Office in Port Area, Manila was also attended by representatives from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR), Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), PAG-ASA, Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), and the University of the Philippines (UP).
The Record of Discussions for the Capacity Development in Coastal Engineering for Disaster Resiliency Project was earlier signed on February 16, 2022 by DPWH Acting Secretary Roger G. Mercado and former JICA Philippines Office Chief Representative Eigo Azukizawa.
The capacity development program, with focus on resilience of coastal communities against disasters, will enable the Philippines to increase its capacity in coping with climate change through engineering interventions.
“As we have seen in recent years, the widespread decline of our coastline is without a doubt a vital and increasingly urgent issue that needs to be addressed. DPWH takes this both as a challenge and an opportunity to pursue the integrated approach to coastal management with the primary aim of protecting coastal communities and equally protecting the ecosystem,” said Undersecretary Sadain.
The meeting discussed the timeline and roadmap of the five (5) year technical cooperation project that aims to develop DPWH’s capacity on coastal engineering through human resource development and formulation of technical guidelines under the coastal expertise of JICA.
JICA Philippines Office Senior Representative Masanari Yanaguichi and his team stated that government engineers and specialists will be trained to better understand coastal hazards, formulate much-needed coastal-related guidelines as well as plan, design and implement pilot projects towards a more sustainable approach to coastal management.
For his part, DPWH UPMO Flood Control Management Cluster (UPMO-FCMC) Project Director Ramon A. Arriola III also emphasized the need for collaboration among agencies and stakeholders in order to ensure timely attainment and successful implementation of the technical cooperation project.
“We would also like to express our deepest gratitude and appreciation to the Government of Japan through JICA for all the support and assistance given not only from the technical cooperation perspective but as well as in helping rebuilding the Philippine economy and our nation,” added Undersecretary Sadain.
Article courtesy of The Department of Public Works and Highways
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Marcelle P. Villegas - December 16, 2020
Test runs at max speed and other development for MRT-3
By Marcelle P. Villegas The newly overhauled MRT-3 train was tested by running it at a maximum speed of 50 kph. Here is a view from the driver’s compartment on MRT-3 during test run last 29 October 2020. (Screenshot from Department of Transportation video) MRT-3 or the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 conducted test runs on its first newly overhauled train. The train was tested to run at a maximum speed of 50 kph. According to Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran, the train is composed of three cars which was overhauled by Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The company is the maintenance provider of MRT-3. The test run was documented in a video blog of DOTr. Libiran said, “As part of the massive rehab and maintenance of Sumitomo from Japan, we can now overhaul train cars that have been long neglected and now, we are repairing them under the Duterte administration.” According to MRT-3 Director for Operations Michael Capati, aside from the three newly overhauled train cars, the MRT-3 also plans to overhaul the remaining 72 cars by July 2021. “In the past years, our trains broke down plenty of times. Now, one of the things Sumitomo is doing is to rehabilitate and do a general overhaul of our trains.” Capati mentioned that the MRT-3 management wants its trains to run at 50 kph by November 2020.  He said, “We have already increased our train operating speed to 30 kph to 40 kph in October. Now we are using this train to simulate a 50 kph operating speed, which we are hoping to implement by November.” Capati noted that the improved train speed was made possible by the overhaul of train cars and the rail replacements that were completed last September. He also said that MRT-3 increased the number of its trains running daily to a maximum of 22. “Our maintenance program is doing well and at the same time, this is the effect of our rail replacements.” MRT-3 tested the train operating speed at 40 kph last September. This reduces the average waiting time of passengers from nine minutes to seven minutes. Reference:  Dela Cruz, Raymond Carl (29 October 2020). Philippine News Agency. “MRT-3 conducts test runs on overhauled train at 50 kph”. Article and photo credit retrieved from - https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1120153
Marcelle P. Villegas - December 14, 2020
Right-of-way ordinance for Makati Intra-City Subway project
By Marcelle P. Villegas Last 21 October 2020, Makati City government passed and approved an ordinance authorizing the acquisition of right of way covering the underground portions of nine roads that are affected by Makati City government’s subway project. As per Ordinance No. 2020-204, the roads that will be affected by the project are: Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, South Avenue, J.P. Rizal Avenue, J.P. Rizal Extension, Pablo Ocampo St. Extension (Vito Cruz Extension), Kalayaan Avenue, EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue), C-5 Road (a.k.a. Carlos P. Garcia Avenue), and San Guillermo Avenue. The city ordinance mentions of subsurface right of way need to be acquired for the “staging, construction, operation, maintenance and development of the Makati Subway Project.” The nine roads mentioned above are in the road and bridge inventory of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Therefore, they fall under the jurisdiction of the department. “Considering the importance of acquiring the easement of the right of way of the subject roads for the benefit of the citizens of Makati, the City Government of Makati is constrained to acquire, through voluntary agreement or expropriation proceedings, an easement of right of way of the subject roads.”  Section 19 of the Republic Act No. 7160 or Local Government Code of 1991 stated the authorizing of expropriations if needed. The City of Makati has entered into negotiations with and made a “valid and definite offer” to the DPWH for the acquisition of right of way. Philippine Infradev is building a subway that is worth $3.5 billion that shall traverse the central business district of Makati City. There will be 10 stations across the 10-kilometer line. Last September, Philippine Infradev signed a $1.21-billion contract that covers engineering, procurement and construction with China Construction Second Engineering Bureau Co. Ltd. For the subway project. The subway project is expected to accommodate 700,000 passengers daily in order to reduce the traffic congestion in the city. They are targeting the subway’s completion in 2025.  About the Makati Subway Project The Makati Intra-city Subway is a planned underground rapid transit line in the City of Makati that spans out to 11 kilometers or 6.8 miles. This is designed to link establishments across Makati’s business district. The project is a partnership between the Makati City Government and a private consortium led by Philippine Infradev Holdings. The subway line’s stations will be connecting the existing Line 3 (Guadalupe Station), the Pasig River Ferry Service, and the approved Line 9 (Metro Manila Subway). It was on 12 December 2018 when the preparatory work was commenced. On the same day, ceremonial drilling took place in front of the Makati City Hall. The Makati City Hall is near the site of one of the proposed stations of the subway. On this day, the signing of the memorandum of understanding also took place. The memorandum was signed by Makati City Government and a consortium consisting of Philippine Infradev and Chinese firms Greenland Holdings Group, Jiangsu Provincial Construction Group Company Ltd., Holdings Ltd. and China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. Soil testing and feasibility studies of the proposed locations for the subway line’s stations were done as part of the preparatory work. By June 2019, 8 out of the 10 proposed stations have been finalized. The two proposed stations along Ayala Avenue are yet to be finalized due to “non-response” from its owners. The proponents said that they may divert the subway towards PNR Buendia Station or the Mile Long property in Legaspi Village instead. For now, the first station will be located at the Makati Central Fire Station. The fire station will be demolished. From there, the line goes towards a Lucia Tan owned property near Circuit Makati and Makati City Hall. The remaining stations will be located near Rockwell Center, Makati Bliss Housing in Guadalupe, Century City, University of Makati, Cembo and the final station will be near Ospital ng Makati. In July 2019, soil testing related with the subway project was completed. Philippine Infradev and the Makati City Government signed a joint venture agreement for the subway project. By October 2019, the plan to move the terminus of the line to the Mile Long property has been finalized. The area is being redeveloped by the national government along Amorsolo Street. The soil test results were favourable and the route diversion meant that the cost of the project might be reduced to as low as $2.5 billion. Moreover, a joint venture with Megaworld Corp. was made to build a common station in Guadalupe for the subway system and for the planned SkyTrain. Based on a disclosure to the stock exchange, the Philippine Infradev’s subsidiary, Makati City Subway Inc. (MCSI) received the term sheet from Megaworld Corp. This joint venture will build access to the Line 3 Guadalupe Station and the Pasig River Ferry. Philippine Infradev has an agreement with China Construction First Group Corp. Ltd. (CCFG) to build a transit-oriented development. Based on this agreement, CCFG is responsible for the construction, materials, manpower, equipment and other requirements to complete the project. The construction is expected to last for 42 months.  References:  Balinbin, Arjay L (25 October 2020). Business World. “Makati passes right-of-way ordinance for subway project”. Retrieved from - https://www.bworldonline.com/makati-passes-right-of-way-ordinance-for-subway-project/  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makati_Intra-city_Subway (Photo credit: IRC Properties Inc.)
Marcelle P. Villegas - January 12, 2021
Dept. of Energy: Moratorium on New Coal Power Plants
By Marcelle P. Villegas A moratorium on the endorsements of greenfield coal power plants was issued by the Department of Energy (DoE). This announcement was made while allowing foreign investors to now have full ownership of geothermal plant projects in the Philippines. DoE’s decision to stop the endorsements of coal power plants is the result of an assessment that showed the importance of focusing on a “more flexible” power supply mix. According to Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi while at a virtual conference with world leaders held in Singapore, “This would help build a more sustainable power system that will be resilient in the face of structural changes in demand and will be flexible enough to accommodate the entry of new, cleaner and indigenous technological innovations.” DoE is currently updating their Philippine Energy Plan for the next 20 years. Mr Cusi mentioned that DoE is committed to accelerating the development of the Philippines’ resources while “pushing for the transition from fossil fuel-based technology utilization to cleaner energy sources to ensure more sustainable growth for the country.”  According to Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella of DoE, the ban on endorsing new coal-fired power plants will not affect those power plants that have received endorsements in the past. He said, “We need to prepare for the influx of RE (renewable energy) under the recent policies issued by the DoE. Hence, the need for more flexibility.”  On note, 3,436 MV of committed coal-fired power projects in Luzon are ongoing as of August 2020. This includes the Meralco Powergen Corporation and GNPower Dinginin Ltd. Co. which is a joing venture of the Ayala and Aboitiz groups. Additionally, a 135 MW coal-run power projects in Visayas and 420 MV in Mindanao have been endorsed by DoE. Overall, there are around 10,000 MV indicative coal-fired power plant projects in the Philippines which may receive government endorsements. Mr Fuentebella said these will need to be sorted out. The ban will continue until the country will require additional baseload power, according to DoE official.  In relation to the ban, Center of Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) pointed out that there are still environmental concerns about the existing coal-run power plants in the Philippines. CEED Director Gerard C. Arances said, “That is still concerning and alarming vis-à-vis pollution, climate imperative, and costly electricity in the country.” Another important announcement made by DoE is the upcoming open bidding round of renewable energy service contracts that will now allow foreign companies to own large-scale geothermal projects. This includes exploration, development and utilization. Last 20 October 2020, DoE released a circular providing the guidelines for the third Open and Competitive Selection Process (OCSP3) in the awarding of renewable project contracts. Cusi said, “From an investment perspective, OCSP3 allows for 100% foreign ownership in large-scale geothermal exploration, development and utilization projects.” DoE clarified that big geothermal projects are those with an initial investment cost of about $50 million and are under Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements, signed and approved by the Philippine President. Reference:  Ang, Adam J. (27 October 2020). Business World. “DoE bans new coal-run power plants”. Retrieved from - https://www.bworldonline.com/doe-bans-new-coal-run-power-plants/
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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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