PH, China ‘negotiating’ to move projects forward

by Philippine Resources - July 18, 2022

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China on Sunday said it is “negotiating” with the Philippines over the funding of some infrastructure projects after a Philippine transport official bared that these were deemed “withdrawn” due to Beijing’s inaction on funding requests by the previous administration.

The Chinese Embassy issued the clarification after Transport Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez revealed that the Philippines scrapped its loan applications for three big-ticket railways— the Philippine National Railways Bicol project, Subic-Clark Railway Project, and the first phase of the Mindanao Railway Project— due to Beijing’s unresponsiveness to its loan application since 2019.

Chavez earlier said President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is looking at renegotiating the loans with Beijing or negotiating with other countries.

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy did not directly mention the funding withdrawal, but vowed to “tap its own advantage and support the Philippines to improve its infrastructure.”

“Our two sides have been negotiating technical issues and made positive progress to move the projects forward,” the embassy said.

The embassy said “China is open for technical discussions over our G-to-G [government-to-government] projects, and is ready to carry our cooperation forward, in close communication with the Philippine new administration.”

According to the embassy, China has helped the Philippines complete 17 projects while more than 20 projects are under implementation or in progress.

“Over the past two years, Covid-19 has impacted implementation of some projects, hindering the site availability, causing delays of procurement, affecting goods mobility, and so on. Despite those difficulties and challenges, our two sides have worked tirelessly to push the projects forward and yielded rich outcomes, spanning from anti-pandemic response, disaster relief to infrastructure, agriculture, and other fields,” the embassy said.

New era of friendship

The Chinese Embassy described the phone conversation between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Marcos on May 18 and recent high-level visits as having ushered in “a new era of China-Philippine friendship.”

“Governments of the two countries are dedicated to further enhancing friendship and mutual trust, adhering to good-neighborliness and deepening mutually beneficial cooperation. China’s policy towards the Philippines has always been and will continue to be consistent and stable as ever,” the embassy said.

The Chinese Embassy expressed confidence that “continuity” would be secured in relations between two countries as well as the bilateral practical cooperation.

“Looking forward, China will build on the past fruition and further our cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure, energy, people-to-people exchange, and other fields,” it added.

Chavez said China's funding commitment for the railway projects was "deemed canceled" as China has been unresponsive to the Philippine government's loan application since 2019.

He said the Chinese bank was asking for 3-percent interest on the loans, much higher than the 0.01-percent rate charged by Japan. By Azer Parrocha


Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency

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Philippine Resources - September 20, 2021

PH's 1st airport underground railway to unlock growth in C. Luzon

 The Philippine North Railway (PNR) project inside this Freeport, which will feature the country’s first-ever airport railway express service, will unlock economic growth and the employment potentials of Central Luzon, especially Bulacan and Pampanga, under the “Build, Build, Build” project, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Saturday. Tugade, who inspected the excavation of the airport underground railway in front of the new terminal building of the Clark International Airport (CRK), said the project would generate direct and indirect employment opportunities for locals, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and transport workers affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. “Sa katunayan, mahigit 7,000 direct jobs ang nabuksan sa construction phase ng PNR Clark Phase 2, at inaasahang 3,000 job opportunities pa ang magbubukas oras na maging operational ito. Samantala, inaasahang higit 25,000 direct job opportunities ang hatid ng buong North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) line during construction, at 10,000 jobs naman ang maidadagdag oras na mabuksan na ito (In fact, more than 7,000 direct jobs have been opened in the construction phase of PNR Clark Phase 2, and it is expected that 3,000 job opportunities will open when it becomes operational. Meanwhile, more than 25,000 direct jobs are expected to open during the construction of the entire NSCR line, and 10,000 jobs will be added by the time it opens),” Tugade said in an official social media account post. Joining Tugade during the inspection were provincial government officials and representatives of the Japan International Cooperation Agency and Asian Development Bank. The underground train station of the PNR inside Clark is part of the 53-km. PNR Clark Phase 2 (Malolos-Clark segment) project. Tugade said once operational, PNR Clark 2 will cut travel time from Malolos, Bulacan to Clark, Pampanga from 1.5 hours to 2 hours to just 30 minutes to 35 minutes. It has six stations – Calumpit, Apalit, San Fernando, Angeles, Clark, and CRK. This project is part of the massive 147-km. NSCR, which will have 35 stations, and shall operate 464 train cars, with 58 eight-car train sets configuration. As of July 2021, PNR Clark Phase 2 recorded an overall progress rate of 32 percent, while PNR Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban to Malolos segment), is now 48-percent complete.


Philippine Resources - September 20, 2021

PNR Clark Phase 2 to spur economic recovery in Central Luzon

Photo Credit: Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Ltd Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade has assured that once it is operational, the PNR Clark Phase 2 of the North-South Commuter Rail Project (NSCR) project will create needed jobs and spur economic recovery in Central Luzon amid the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. “The DOTr, in all of its projects, has always aimed to revitalize the country’s economy. A transport infrastructure project like the NSCR will spur economic growth in Central Luzon, particularly the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga,” Tugade said in a news release on Sunday. The NSCR System is the single largest infrastructure project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and is the longest greenfield commuter railway project to be financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). It is also the biggest project to be undertaken so far under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program of the Duterte Administration with a total cost of PHP777.55-billion. It is one of the key infrastructure railway projects supported by Japan, in addition to the Metro Manila Subway and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 Rehabilitation projects. The PNR Clark Phase 2 is a 53 kilometer-rail line under the NSCR that will connect Malolos, Bulacan to Clark, Pampanga. Tugade said once operational, PNR Clark Phase 2 will improve transport connectivity and mobility across the Central Luzon and spur various employment in various sectors. “The Malolos to Clark Railway of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) aims to cut travel time between Malolos, Bulacan and Clark, Pampanga, from 1.5 to 2 hours, to just 30-35 minutes. It also features the country’s first-ever Airport Railway Express Service, which will connect Makati to the Clark International Airport in just 55 minutes, from the current 2-3 hours,” Tugade said. PNR Clark Phase 2 will have six train stations, namely, Calumpit, Apalit, San Fernando, Angeles, Clark, and Clark Airport. The rail stations will include multimodal facilities that will allow seamless transfer of commuters from public utility vehicles to trains.   Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency


Philippine Resources - September 02, 2021

Trains for MRT-7 project set to arrive: SMC

San Miguel Corporation has announced that the first batch of trains for its Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-7 project is set to arrive in the country from South Korea next week, even as work continues for the completion of the much-awaited mass rail project.  The trains, which consist of six cars or two trainsets procured from South Korea’s Hyundai ROTEM, have cleared inspections and factory acceptance testing, with the country’s national rail manufacturer, Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL), serving as SMC’s adviser.  Each trainset is 65.45 meters long -- or well over the entire length of an Olympic-size swimming pool, which is 50 meters. “The timely arrival of these brand new, high-quality trains from South Korea --known as one of the world’s best train and rail systems builders -- is such a welcome development, and I believe holds a lot of significance. At a time when many are feeling uncertain about our country’s future because of the pandemic, this shows that the job of nation-building continues; that the work of improving our infrastructure, boosting our economic growth prospects, and investing in our country’s brighter future, also doesn’t stop -- especially for us in San Miguel,” SMC president Ramon S. Ang said in a statement Wednesday. Ang said more trains are set to arrive in the following months, up to next year, until all 108 cars or 36 trainsets the company acquired are delivered.  Despite continuing pandemic restrictions and pending right-of-way (ROW) issues, the project itself is now at over 54 percent completion, with installation of bored piles, girders, and other foundational works on a significant portion of the project, already completed.  “Right now, construction activities on the guideway and the stations are ongoing. Electronic and mechanical works also continue. As we said before, the MRT-7 project is in many ways more difficult and complex than even our recently-competed Skyway Stage 3 -- which in itself is an engineering feat,” he said. Ang said MRT-7 has added complexities such as electric power systems, computer and communications systems, signaling systems, and automatic fare systems, among others.  “There are many causes of delay, from necessary pandemic restrictions, to ROW issues, but as with all SMC projects, we apply 110 percent effort to all the areas we can work on, so as to minimize delays. The most important thing is we don’t stop, we keep on progressing. We thank our national government, especially President (Rodrigo) Duterte, the DoTR (Department of Transportation), the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), and the LGUs (local government units) of Quezon City and Bulacan, for their continuing support for this project,” Ang added.  Earlier, SMC reported that manufacturing of other important equipment needed for the MRT-7 which were all sourced from various countries has also been completed.  Various other railway operations equipment such those needed for automatic fare systems, communication systems, signaling systems, power supply systems, third rail, track works systems and rolling stock maintenance equipment --used for the maintenance of trains-- are also set to be delivered from various countries throughout the year.  The first test run of the project is set for December 2022.

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Philippine Resources - August 05, 2022


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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