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Philippine Resources - February 04, 2021

OceanaGold and Govt Finalising FTAA Renewal

The Philippine government and Australian-Canadian miner OceanaGold Corporation (OceanaGold) are now finalising the terms of their Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA).This is for the continuation of the operations of the Didipio gold and copper mine in Nueva Vizcaya. In a regulatory filing with the Toronto Stock Exchange and Australian Securities Exchange, OceanaGold said that it had several meetings with the Philippine government to finalise this agreement. “The Company will continue to engage with government officials and will work with stakeholders for a safe restart of operations at Didipio,” OceanaGold said. “The timeline for the renewal remains uncertain and achieving steady-state production will be dependent on the timing of the renewal and workforce recruitment efforts.”The request has been forward to the Office of the President for more than a year already, but in December last year, the government resumed these negotiations. “We expect the renewal will be returned to the Office of the President for review and approval in the near-term,” Michael Holmes, president and CEO of OceanaGold, said. “We look forward to working with stakeholders and Government officials to safely restart operations and continue the significant socio-economic benefits when the renewal has been approved. OceanaGold is a responsible gold mining Company that is focused on operating to the highest social and environmental international standards and considers Didipio the template for responsible mining globally.”In October last year, more than 496 employees were laid off and an estimated 400 people were affected too.

Mining

Philippine Resources - February 04, 2021

Mining Regulators to Closely Monitor Black Sand Extraction

As Apollo Global subsidiary JDVC Resources Corporation starts its operations this month, mining regulators will closely monitor the extraction of black sand in Cagayan province. This, in spite of the many environmental groups protesting the operations. Responding to these groups, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Wilfredo Moncano said, “JDVC has undergone environmental impact assessment and the company was issued an ECC, which means environmental issues have been considered by the EMB. 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. What is important is that the JDVC will not cause damage to the coastal or marine ecosystem.”On the other hand, magnetite mining in rivers such as the Cagayan River is allowed - as long as the purpose is for rehabilitation or restoration. “Black sand mining is also part of the purposes that’s why we will assess the mineral content of the river channel,” he said. “If the magnetite sand contained surpasses the threshold of 6 per cent, we will charge the company of 4-per cent excise tax. Every shipment will undergo mineral assessment. Even before shipment, there will be a mineral assessment.”He said that the regional directors of DENR will learn how to compute taxes based on mineral assessment implemented during offshore mining. “There is a formula for computing taxes to be imposed on minerals extracted for black sand and it depends on the market value of the mineral and the content of the ores,” he said.

Mining

Philippine Resources - February 04, 2021

Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation Provides Infra Projects to Mining Town

Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation (THPAL) has given four high-impact infrastructure projects valued at P13 million to a mining town of Claver, Surigao del Norte. These include a building for Alternative Learning System, a health center and birthing facility, a pavement concreting project, and a Tanod (village watchers) output.THPAL said that the barangay officials received the projects on January 26. These were sourced from the Social Development Management Program (SDMP) funds. Urbiztondo Barangay Captain Larry G. Escutin said that these funds have transformed the barangay into a developed barangay - with all facilities and amenities. “Aside from the infrastructure projects, THPAL also provided us with high-impact projects to improve health and education,” he said. “More importantly, the company has assisted in various ways for us to cope with the adverse effects of the (coronavirus disease) pandemic.”Meanwhile, ALS teacher Vilma Abad said that the project can provide a safe place for their students. "Now that we have our own building, we don't have to scratch our heads where to hold our next classes. This is really a big help for our students in the community," she said.THPAL through its SDMP funds has been providing the communities with scholarship programs, basic health care services, livelihood projects, wellness programs fr PWDs and senior citizens, and other initiatives.

Mining

Philippine Resources - February 04, 2021

MGB Asks Miners to Realign Their SDMP Funds

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has directed miners to repurpose their funds for social development and management programs (SDMP), safety and health programs, and for the procurement of vaccines. In its revised regulations and rules which implements the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, the SDMP is for the “sustained improvement in the living standards of host and neighbouring communities.”“The mining contractor or permit holder shall realign the 2021 funds and the said procurement shall be chargeable against the development of host and neighbouring communities of the SDMP for the impact barangays or municipalities, and health and control services of the SHP for employees or workers,” MGB said in a memorandum.According to MGB Acting Director Wilfredo G. Moncano, “the funds coming from a portion of the annual budget of the SDMP are to be used in procuring vaccines for non-employees of the mining companies, but are residents of the host and neighbouring community, while the funds coming from the SHP are meant to be used for buying vaccines for mining employees.”The MGB said that this is “in the interest of public service and to help fight against COVID-19.” It added that those buying vaccines using the realigned funds must follow the protocol set by the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.The MGB also required firms to reveal the realigned funds in their quarterly reports. “The implementation of this memorandum shall be included in the quarterly accomplishment reports to be submitted by mining companies subject to monitoring of the MGB Regional Office concerned,” the MGB said.According to Moncano, “How much percentage from the SDMP and SHP will depend on how large is the SDMP but with a cap of 75% of it, although it is not mentioned in the guidelines.”He added that the miners would still need to coordinate with the communities for the realignment of funds.

Mining

Philippine Resources - February 04, 2021

Cagdianao Mining Corporation Pays P43 million Annual Business Tax

According to the Cagdianao Mining Corporation (CMC), its annual business tax worth P43 million has already been paid to the local government of Cagdianao in Dinagat Islands, where it operates a 697-hectare nickel mine.In its statement, the firm - which is an affiliate of Nickel Asia Corporation, the country’s largest nickel supplier - said that the money was handed over to Cagdianao Mayor Adolfo Longos by its resident mine manager, Arnilo Milaor.“Aside from the annual business taxes, CMC also regularly pays royalties, fees, and other obligations to the national and local governments, even down to the barangay level,” the mining firm said.CMC highlighted the importance of paying the right taxes. "As a valued partner of the community, we are happy to see our local taxes and fees becoming instrumental in the growth and development not only of Cagdianao and neighbouring towns but the whole province of Dinagat Islands as well," Milaor said. "We will continue to see to it that our taxes and other obligations are paid on time, so that these would be enjoyed by residents in the form of improved infrastructure, better health, and social services, and raised living standards and quality of life," he added.Records from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau revealed that in light of its COVID response, the firm spent P6 million on relief operations, supporting medical front-liners and survival kits to some 1,300 families.

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Philippine Resources - February 03, 2021

The Philippines and Indonesia Collaborate to Strengthen Their Copper Industries

According to the Trade department, the Philippines and Indonesia will collaborate to strengthen their copper industries. In a virtual meeting attended by officials from both countries, Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BoI) Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo said that Indonesia can help the Philippines in copper production. This was echoed by BoI Executive Director Ma. Corazon Halili-Dichosa. “This will only be one of the many bilateral initiatives for the copper industry,” she said The BoI added that Indonesian officials led by Randi Anwar, director of its Investment Coordinating Board, Ministry of Energy Director General Muhammad Wafid and Ministry of Industry’s acting head Bimo Pratomo “welcomed future collaboration and cooperation activities on the copper/mining industry to help each sides’ downstream copper industries.”The BoI recently revealed the Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone master plan anchored on the copper industry. Philex Mining Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Eulalio B. Austin, Jr., added that other copper projects involved the Silangan project in Surigao del Norte, Tampakan project in South Cotabato and Kingking project in Compostela Valley.“These projects could yield “economic progress not only for Mindanao but the country in general,” the BoI said.

Mining

Philippine Resources - February 03, 2021

First Offshore Magnetite Iron Mining in the PH to Start This February

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. [1] With regards to the apprehension of some residents of Ballesteros, 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, “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. (--Marcelle P. Villegas, PRJ)Reference:[1] Flores, Alena Mae S. (31 Jan. 2021). Manila Standard. "Apollo Global announces subsidiary’s start of magnetite mining operations in Cagayan".

Mining

Philippine Resources - January 29, 2021

Rare blue agate from Brazil with the face of Cookie Monster

A rare piece of volcanic agate rock was discovered in the Rio Grande do Sul region near Soledade in Brazil last November 2020. It is an oval-shaped rock with a hard, white pitted outer shell. On the outside, it looks like a perfect egg. When you split the rock at the center, you will see in each of the two halves a strange resemblance of Cookie Monster, a character from the famous children’s television show “Sesame Street”.[1]At first look, the rock’s photos and video which went viral on the internet seems surreal, but it is actually a unique piece of rock that was naturally formed in a volcanic environment, according to its owner. The rock is a deep blue quartz crystal and was discovered and found by Lucas Fassari, a gemologist and explorer in Brazil. [2][3] It was sent to Mike Bowers in California. Bowers is an American geologist and specializes in these types of rocks. He said that it could be worth as much as $10,000 due to its rare features. [1]Bowers uploaded on his personal social media account a video of the rock with the caption “Cookie Monster agate from Brazil” with a background music of Cookie Monster singing about the letter “C”. His post immediately became viral online. The actual cost of the rock when bought from Fassari was not revealed by the current seller. [3] “I think this is probably the most perfect Cookie Monster out there. I have seen others but here you have it complete on both sides. This is very unusual. There are a few famous agates out there: the owl, the scared face. There are many approximate ones but it is rare to find one so well defined like this,” Bowers said. “Prices can be very high. I was proposed over $10,000 by five different buyers. Rare.”While his viral video of the Cookie Monster agate is fascinating, it also brought some doubt to most people. Is it really possible for nature to produce a semiprecious stone with such strange appearance? What are agates and how are they formed in the first place?Geology.com described the agate as a translucent variety of microcrystalline quartz. It is formed by the deposition of silica from groundwater in the cavities of igneous rocks. Agates are formed by the deposits of silica from groundwater in the cavities of igneous rocks. The agate deposits in concentric layers around the walls of the cavity or in the horizontal layers building up from the bottom of the cavity. As a result, layered patters are then formed. In some agate formations, these cavities are lined with crystals, therefore called geodes. A geode is a round rock with a hollow space lined with crystals, just like the Cookie Monster agate.Agates come in a wide range of colours such as brown, red, yellow, gray, black, pink and white. The colours are produced by the impurities during its formation and they are formed in alternating layers within the agate. Now, the variations in colours are produced once groundwater of different compositions leak into the cavity. The banding within a cavity is a manifestation of change in water chemistry. As an end result, agates end up having interesting colours and patterns. Based on this general description of agate, the authenticity of the Cookie Monster agate seems legitimate. Bowers reported to Daily Mail UK that the rock is indeed real. [1] A fact-checking website, Snopes.com. also claimed that rock is authentic. [3] TechnologyTimes.pk on the other hand stated, “As of the moment, there are no news yet as to whether Bowers actually intends to sell the rock or not, and about its current value as of the moment. Furthermore, no authorities have confirmed whether the rock is real or fake. If it is, sure enough, its value will increase over time as more and more people take interest in the unusual rock. Who would’ve known Cookie Monster would make so much numbers in a rock?” (--Marcelle P. Villegas, PRJ)Reference:[1] Boyle, Darren (19 Jan. 2021). Daily Mail UK. "What a muppet! Geologist finds incredibly rare lump of volcanic agate rock which looks exactly like Sesame Street's Cookie Monster". Retrieved from - https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9162441/What-muppet-Geologist-finds-rock-looks-like-Sesame-Streets-Cookie-Monster.html[2] Hart, Matthew (26 Jan. 2021). Nerdist. "Gemologist Cracks Open Rock, Finds Cookie Monster's Face".[3] Evon, Dan (26 Jan. 2021). Snopes. "Is the 'Cookie Monster Rock' Real?". [4] Noor, Mufliha (25 Jan. 2021). Technology Times.pk. "'Cookie Monster' Rock From Brazil: Real or Fake?".

Mining

Philippine Resources - January 22, 2021

Apex Mining Continues Maco Mine Operations at Reduced Capacity

After more than 20% of its workers were infected with the COVID-19 virus last December 2020, Listed Apex Mining Co. Inc (AMCI) is yet to continue operating at full capacity at its Maco Mine in Davao de Oro. According to reports by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), AMCI has continued the operations of its mine and mill - but not at full capacity. It can be recalled that in December last year, 69 of its employees and contractors contracted the virus. In addition, 15 more who were working in the mine also got infected.AMCI said, “The employees who tested positive were turned over to the Local Government Unit (LGU) to be accommodated in their isolation facilities; together with the Medical Unit and with the assistance of the Barangay health workers, they are continuously being monitored to address immediate symptoms that may occur,“Likewise, they are provided with supplies of medicines, food, and necessities,” it added.Because some of its employees have already finished their quarantine, and some have recovered, the mines have continued its operations again. “The offices of the Support Services were partially opened to cater to urgent and necessary services, Finance/Accounting, Human Resources, and purchasing but under the close supervision of the safety department to ensure health protocols. Others are on work from home status and the rest were advised to stay home until recalled,” AMCI said. “Continuously coordinated with the government agencies for the implementation of measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

Mining

Philippine Resources - January 20, 2021

OceanaGold Releases 2020 Preliminary Operational Results

OceanaGold Corporation has released its preliminary full year and 4th Quarter 2020 operational results - which are yet subject to finalisation. The firm will announce its complete audit report after the TSX market closes on February 18, 2020 (Toronto eastern standard time).Some of the achievements include the following: A full-year gold production of 301,675 oz, which includes 99,155 oz produced in the 4th quarter of 2020Haile has come out with 48,988 oz in the 4th quarter and 137,413 for the full yearFirst production of Martha Underground progressing which started in the 2nd quarter of 2021Unaudited consolidated all-in sustaining costs (AISC) for the year of US$1276/oz sold and the cash costs of US$866/oz soldFinished the 4-year US$250 million revolving credit facility with the maturity date of December 31, 2024“We delivered a strong 4Q20 of production, consistent with our core value to deliver on our commitments,” said Michael Holmes, President and CEO of OceanaGold. “Despite the ongoing risks associated with the COVID-19 global pandemic in the US, Haile achieved its full-year production guidance with 137 413 gold oz produced including 48 988 oz in 4Q20. The risks associated with the management of COVID-19 remain, and we are focused on keeping our workforce safe while delivering on our commitments. We expect the continued mining of high-grade zones at Haile through the 1H21.”He added, “In New Zealand, both Macraes and Waihi operations delivered full-year production guidance with 144 487 and 19 775 oz of gold, respectively. Development of the Martha Underground continues to advance, and we expect the first production at the end of 2Q21. Meanwhile, at Macraes, development of Golden Point Underground is progressing well with first production on-track for 4Q20. Over 30 000 m were drilled in the Waihi District through 2020 with 4Q20 activities focused on resource conversion drilling at Martha Underground and Wharekirauponga.”He noted, “In December, the company met with Philippine government officials, as instructed by the Office of the President, to finalise the terms and conditions of the FTAA renewal. We expect the renewal will be returned to the Office of the President for review and approval in the near-term. Didipio is a world-class operation that employs thousands of Filipinos and is a significant source of economic benefit to the National government as well as the local communities of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino. We look forward to working with stakeholders and government officials to safely restart operations and continue the significant socio-economic benefits when the renewal has been approved. OceanaGold is a responsible gold mining company that is focused on operating to the highest social and environmental international standards and considers Didipio the template for responsible mining globally.""Looking ahead to 2021, we expect stronger y/y production. Our robust organic growth pipeline is advancing to plan, and we are excited to bring Martha Underground into full production in 2Q20. Exploration remains a critical part of the OceanaGold story, and we will continue to invest in the drill bit to discover and convert ounces at each of our operations. OceanaGold is a dynamic and resilient gold miner with an exciting future, and we look forward to releasing our inaugural multi-year guidance on 18 February 2021 and hosting a webcast to better define the future of the business.”

Mining

Philippine Resources - January 15, 2021

Duterte Orders Tawi-Tawi Island Rehabilitation

President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the cease of operations in Tumbagaan Island in Languyan, Tawi-Tawi.According to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles, Duterte instead has issued the rehabilitation of the island following results that the island has been destroyed by mining operations. “The island has, at this point, been mined out,” he said. And while rehabilitation efforts are underway, the President is issuing a directive to stop any and all mining in Tumbagaan Island and to step up the rehabilitation of the area by planting more trees and other efforts of rehabilitation.”Nograses also noted that more actions will soon be implemented as the result of the mining operations need to be studied more. He also emphasized the commitment of the president to preserve and take care of the environment, which is transparent in the laws and regulations that the president is implementing.“Since the beginning of his administration, the President has repeatedly stressed the importance of protecting our environment and strictly implementing environmental laws,” he said.

Mining

Philippine Resources - January 15, 2021

Mining Firms Fund Molecular Testing Laboratory Facility in Surigao

Surigao City opens the first Molecular Testing Laboratory (MTL), a project started by Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC). The new facility aims to process some 2,000 specimens every day with the use of a reverse transcript-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). This will give faster diagnostic results of suspected COVID cases and is also expected to enhance the response of the province against the dreaded disease. The facility has 42 testing machines, and aside from COVID, can also test HIV, leukaemia, and other forms of cancer. Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation (THPAL) and subsidiaries of NAC, such as the Cagdianao Mining Corp. (CMC) based in Dinagat Islands and the Taganito Mining Corp. (TMC) based in Claver, SDN, has funded the 18M facility. According to Jose Bayani “JB” Baylon, Vice President for Corporate Communication for NAC, this facility is the first of a kind funded by a mining firm. “Our NAC affiliates were among the first to respond to the mining communities by expending some P50M during the first months of the pandemic securing food and basic first-aid materials including tests kits, and we figured what better way to serve the communities of SDN than its own lab to hasten the process of identifying the cases of infection and be able to respond accordingly,” Baylon explains.For his part, Red Cross Chairman and Senator Richard Gordon thanks the local government and the THPAL for establishing this laboratory. “This lab can be the Eastern Mindanao Warehouse in Mindanao not only for testing but for research and hopefully we can start our own vaccination program here,” he said.SDN Vice Governor Geed Gokiangkee, meanwhile, said that this is a better Christmas gift for the people of Surigao, saying that the month of October 2020 saw a rise in COVID cases.

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Philippine Resources - January 09, 2021

FNI Subsidiary Ore Reserves Grow

In spite of the global pandemic, Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc (FNI), the country’s second-largest nickel ore producer, has announced that as of October last year, the ore reserves of its unit Platinum Group Metals Corporation at its Cagdianao nickel expansion project grew to 59.45 million wet metric tons (WMT)According to FNI, the growth was a 37 per cent increase from the 43.3 million WMT. The life of the mine was estimated to last at least 10 years, based on the yearly production of 6 million ore WMT. In a disclosure, FNI President Dante Bravo said, “Continuous exploration is being conducted, especially in CAGA 2, CAGA 3, and CAGA 4, to extend the mine life further and to search for other potential resource commodities such as limestone and chromite.The firm said that its marketable ores are shipped to China, saying that higher-grade ores will soon be shipped to Japan “when the need arises”. In the third quarter of 2020, the net income of FNI grew by 93 per cent to P1.56 billion from P805 million within the same time last year. This was in spite of fewer vessels shipping and lower sales of nickel ore. Revenues dropped by 2.2 per cent to P4.54 million from P4.65 million, blamed on limited shipments and lower costs of nickel ore. In January to September last year, export revenues were up by 16 per cent - P5.6 billion in total as compared to P4.8 billion.

Mining

Philippine Resources - January 06, 2021

Agata Mining Expecting Environmental Certificate

In the first quarter of 2021, Agata Mining Ventures Inc. (AMVI), a subsidiary of TVI Resource Development Phils. Inc. (TVIRD), expects to be issued an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC). This is for its limestone project in Agusan del Norte.“In February 2020, the application for the Environmental Compliance Certificate [for the Agata limestone project] commenced,” TVIRD said. “Receipt of the ECC is expected in the first quarter of 2021.”The Philippine affiliate of TVI Pacific Inc., a publicly-listed Canadian firm, TVIRD holds 60 per cent interest in AMVI which started in 2014. The Agata project is in the same Mineral Processing Sharing Agreement (MPSA) area as AMVI’s nickel-iron project. Presently, AMVI continues to review the feasibility of starting a limestone direct shipping ore (DSO) or coming out with hydrated lime and a higher value ground calcium carbonate product marketable to the plastics and paper industries around Asia.TVIRD also added that endorsements from the local government units (LGUs) have been received and that the balance of the permitting process continues and is expected to be finished in 10 to 12 months. Throughout the life of the mine, the target annual production rate is 2 million metric tons (MT). Meanwhile, TVIRD said that in spite of the pandemic, Agata has continued to ship nickel laterite. As of October 31, 2020, AMVI has shipped nickel laterite with a weight of 2.6 million metric tons. This was done through 47 shipments.

Mining

Philippine Resources - January 06, 2021

A Better Outlook for Mining In 2021

In spite of the economic downturn that the COVID pandemic has brought to the world, the Philippines is hopeful that the mining sector will bring the country that much-needed growth. “There is a keen and renewed interest to see what it has to offer to the Philippines,” said Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) executive director Ronald Recidoro. “Only two per cent of the country’s territory is currently covered by mining contracts.”But for this industry to help in the recovery, there must be changes.“We have made several representations with the government in light of the pandemic. They are looking into the policies and issues that we have been raising and, hopefully, we get word from policymakers in the future,” COMP spokesperson Rocky Dimaculangan said.To show that the industry is picking up, the government has lifted the suspension of some mine sites and has also renegotiated the contract of OceanGold, and moved the privatization of various state-owned mining assets.The government is also considering the moratorium on new mining projects and the lifting of the open pit ban.According to Larry Heradez, mining tenements management division chief of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), this moratorium is important because not only does it create 41,250 new jobs but provides at least P20 billion in annual revenues. This will benefit at least 800,000 people.Heradez said there should be change to the provision of a new mining tax regime for the government to grant new contracts. He added that the government should still follow its legislative agenda in restructuring the fiscal regime by offering revenue sharing. In addition, of course, is the lifting of the controversial pit ban. “We have recommended the lifting of the ban and promoting alternative methods for new mining applications, as far as practicable and feasible, or when particularly inapplicable, strict environmental safeguards shall be imposed,” he said. “We are also formulating appropriate measures to enhance environmental protection for the upcoming, current and post open-pit mining projects.”Another source for the government is the renewal of the technical or financial assistance agreement of OceanGold Philippines Inc. - which can give P2.8 billion yearly and another P1.8 billion in fees, taxes, and other obligations. This will also provide at least 10,000 workers with jobs. Besides, the Diwalwal Mineral Reservation Area (DMRA) can possibly give 15,000 more jobs and P609 million annual revenues. River restoration can also come up with P25 billion in extra revenues. As for the 2021 global outlook, Fitch Solutions in its 2021 outlook report said that the pricing should be favourable as these are supported by a global economic recovery with the entrance of COVID vaccines. Demand for minerals and some metals will also have a better 2021. Fitch added that the mining capital expenditures would improve this year. To move forward, Surigao del Norte Rep. Ace Barbers said that the mining industry is the way to go. “The mining industry is a sleeping giant waiting to be tapped and harnessed and taken care of so it can grow as big as it could be,” he said. “Only if we have a firm and stable mining policy, this would invite a lot of investors to come and infuse capital and thereby create jobs and revenues for the country.”Ateneo School of Government Dean Ronald Mendoza added that this industry has more flexibility as compared to other sectors. “The tax revenue potential of the industry is huge. This is not the time to cripple the industry with further uncertainties,” he said. “We can bank on mining if we actually focus on growing the industry in a sustainable way and using those revenues to invest for our nation’s future.”

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