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Mining

Marcelle P. Villegas - March 17, 2021

First Offshore Magnetite Iron Mining in the PH

Last December, Apollo Global Capital’s (PSE: APL) subsidiary, JDVC Resources Corporation, announced that Department of Environment and Natural Resources granted them a permit to start the commercial operations of the country’s first offshore magnetite iron mining project. According to JDVC and APL consultant, Jun Herrera, the mining operations in Cagayan are expected to start by mid or end of February. He said that the first newly-built deep sea mining vessel arrived in Cagayan and needed to take shelter for now due to strong sea currents. In relation to this project, they assured the government that there will be minimal impact on the marine ecosystem as per the studies and survey conducted by a Singapore-based company. Their study shows that there is no coral or aquamarine life within the mining area which is located 150 meters below sea level. Herrera stated that three more vessels are expected to arrive this year. The vessel is capable of commercial extraction, sampling, testing and production of magnetite iron. [1] With regards to the apprehension of some residents of Ballesteros in Cagayan that this offshore mining operation will destroy the coral ecosystem, APL addressed the issue by stating that such assumption by the locals has no basis. APL stated last January, “We won’t even be mining in their waters. In the first place, our mining operation will be in the waters of Buguey and Gonzaga towns, and at a distance of over 14 kilometers. That’s more than two horizon lengths away from the shoreline.” Lazaro Ramos, a resident of Ballesteros, sent a formal complaint to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu. Ramos warned them of the possible “catastrophe” that the offshore mining will bring about should it resumes. He mentioned in comparison a study conducted by Craig Smith from the University of Hawaii regarding the ocean seabed in the NE Pacific abyssal waters. APL, however, contradicted this argument by Ramos and said that the study by Craig Smith is applicable to a different part of the ocean and not necessarily comparable with the mining site in Cagayan.  “That’s a different part of the Pacific. It looks at the ocean bed more than 200 meters below sea level, whereas we can only go down to 150 meters with current technology. Moreover, the Smith study did not look at magnetite iron reserves. From the experience of countries like Indonesia, Japan and New Zealand, magnetite iron is known to be toxic to corals, fish and other aquamarine life.” Moreover, JDVC emphasised on the study results done by the Singapore-based survey company whom they commissioned to conduct a full “sea bottom profile” of its mining tenements off Cagayan. As mentioned, their study reveals no corals or aquamarine life in the area. APL also reported that they have done their part in coordinating with the locals and providing corporate social responsibility activities for the residents of Buguey and Gonzaga. “We’re proud to say that over 90 percent of the residents support us and are even anxious for us to get started.” According to Herrera, the municipalities of Aparri, Buguey and Gonzaga received funding from the Development Bank of the Philippines. These are the municipalities covered by the mining project. DBP grated JDVC a grant worth $8-million credit line for the magnetite iron mining project.   Herrera said, “We have proven to them [DBP] that it’s environmentally safe.” He added, “The DBP loan has zero borrowings yet as of now, hence, our company remains to be zero debts and internally funded by our shareholders. The DBP loan will only kick off once we have the letter of credit presented to the bank for the discounting the letter of credit of export buyers, to obtain a 90-day working capital, to fund the production of the ordered iron ore.” This project is seen as profitable, because magnetite mining has a strong market globally. In China, for example, they consider the steel industry as their “roadmap for their economic recovery”. Herrera mentioned that JVDC is an ISO-certified company. This means that there is an assurance that they shall comply with environmental standards. With all these assurances of a promising mining project ahead, some still have apprehension about it, perhaps rooting down to past incidents. In November 2020, the Cagayan Valley region was greatly affected by the Super Typhoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses. The two simultaneous typhoons are classified as category-5 and category-4 tropical cyclones respectively. As an effect, the devastation was great marked by massive flooding in Isabela and Cagayan provinces. [2] The residents in those areas blame the National Irrigation Association (NIA) for the flood when they opened the floodgates of the nearby Magat Dam on the last minute. The two provinces were submerged in high waters as high as a two-storey building. NIA on the other hand firmly contradicted such claim and explained that the release of water from Magat Dam was not the main cause of flooding. NIA points out that proper and sufficient warnings were given to those communities in low-lying areas. Additionally, they stated that the volume of water released was only 25% of the carrying capacity of the Cagayan River. The river is the longest stream in the Philippines that serves as the catch basin of the nine provinces in three regions. [2] Aside from the two typhoons, a second issue related with the river was about the illegal magnetite mining at the mouth of the Cagayan River in the municipality of Aparri. The provincial board of Cagayan appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte in 2019 to stop the dredging operations of Pacific Offshore Exploration, Inc. (POEI) due to potential threat to the environment and the livelihood of the locals. The Chinese company Zhong Hai Gravel Group headed by Dong Biao Su is POEI’s partner in that operation. The company was controversial recently after the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Coast Guard raided its Zhonhai 68 dredging vessel during a maritime security patrol off the Bataan coast. “Bureau of Customs are poised to issue a warrant of seizure and detention against the undocumented vessel.” However, the Chinese Embassy in Manila claimed that the vessel is technically non-Chinese because it is registered under an African flag of convenience. [2] Currently, JDVC Resources Corp. is the first and only company that was granted a declaration of mining project feasibility by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to extract magnetite sand and other minerals in Cagayan. In response to Cagayan’s decade-old black sand mining problem, the launching of Cagayan River Rehabilitation Project last February 2 is seen to solve the problem. DENR stated early in February that mining regulations will strictly monitor the extraction of magnetite or black sand in the coastal waters and rivers of Cagayan province. [3] With regards to APL’s/JDVC Resources Corp.’s offshore magnetite iron mining, MGB Director Wilfredo Monaco stated the project has gone through an environmental impact assessment system processes and the company has secured an environmental clearance certificate (ECC) from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB). [3]  “JDVC has undergone environmental impact assessment and the company was issued an ECC, which means environmental issues have been considered by the EMB,” Moncano stated. Magnetite or black sand mining is supposed to be banned in the Philippines, but Moncano explained that the extraction of the said mineral offshore is allowed. He said, “Mining in shoreline is prohibited but offshore mining is allowed.  If it is at least 1,500 meters from the shoreline going out to the sea, it is allowed.” He also assured that the company’s operation will be monitored by the MGB and EMB, that in case of any destruction or damage to the coastal or marine ecosystem by JDVC Resources Corp., there will be a corresponding penalty under the mining law. “What is important is that the JDVC will not cause damage to the coastal or marine ecosystem,” he said. As for mining in rivers like in the Cagayan River, it is also allowed as long as the primary purpose of the project is river rehabilitation or restoration. One example is their plan to extract some 7 million metric tons of sand to remove three of the 19 sandbars along is stretch. Moncano said that the DENR-MGB will also monitor the dredging operations because while the activity is primarily flood mitigation, the minerals to be extracted include magnetite sand. [3] Moncano stated, “Black sand mining is also part of the purposes that’s why we will assess the mineral content of the river channel. If the magnetite sand contained surpasses the threshold of 6 percent, we will charge the company of 4-percent excise tax.” He said that every shipment will undergo mineral assessment. (--Marcelle P. Villegas, PRJ) References: [1] Flores, Alena Mae S. (31 Jan. 2021). Manila Standard. "Apollo Global announces subsidiary’s start of magnetite mining operations in Cagayan". [2] Gamboa, J. Albert (5 Feb. 2021). Business World. "Building back better in Cagayan Valley". [3] Mayuga, Jonathan L. (4 Feb. 2021). Business Mirror. "MGB exec vows to keep tabs of Cagayan River magnetite quarry operations set to start in February".

Mining

Marcelle P. Villegas - March 17, 2021

The Aftermath of the Carmen Copper Mine Landslide

After the tragic landslide that occurred at the open pit’s north wall at around 4:15 p.m. on Monday, 21 Dec. 2020,  Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7 ordered the immediate suspension of the mine operations in Carmen Copper Corporation (CCC). According to MGB’s report last 22 Dec. 2020 on their official website, they stated “Initial investigations revealed there was no mining activity in the area on that day.” [1] On that day, landslide debris fell on the water at the pit bottom. This has an elevation of 41m above sea level. The landslide created a tsunami-like wave that reached an elevation of 105m in the southern portion of the pit where the workers were located. On 22 Dec. 2020, four fatalities were recorded along with six missing. [1] Further on, an assessment of the area was conducted by Director Pacquito Melicor Jr. (DENR Central Visayas Regional Executive Director), Director Armando Malicse (MGB 7 Regional Director), MGB Region 7 team, and Mine Safety, Environment and Social Development Division. CCC and Toledo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management team continued their search and retrieval operations on a limited scale due to unstable condition. MGB 7 technical personnel continues its on-site inspection and investigation in accordance with R.A. 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995) and the DENR Administrative Order Nos. 2010-21 (Consolidated IRR of RA 7942) and 2000-98 (Mine Safety and Health Standards). [1] A list of names of workers who died was given by CCC to the Toledo Police Station Chief, Lt. Col. Junnel Caadlawon. The second list contains the names of those who are still missing. [2] Those who died from the landslide are the following: Junil S. Lagola, age 44, from Barangay Don Andres Soriano, leadman Ernesto G. Caspe, age 54, from Dasmamac, Lutopan, checker Juan M. Tapang, age 44, from Don Andres Soriano Village, heavy equipment operator Dionisio Labang, from barangay Uling, Naga, backhoe operator/Anseca Contractor Those who are still missing are the following: Jose B. Carpentero, age 31, from Barangay Biga, heavy equipment operator from Mine Services Department Jonwel S. Herediano, age 33, from Barangay Don Andres Soriano, pump operator Simeon B. Laconas, age 33, from Barangay Biga, leadman - mine services department John Paul L. Resuelo, age 27, from Barangay Biga, heavy equipment operator Renante F. Sepada, age 35, from Barangay Bagakay, pump operator Alfred C. Tautho, age 33, from Barangay Mainggit, welder Carmen Copper Corp. (CCC) expressed their support and commitment to provide free education until college and allowances to all the children of its employees who died or are still missing after the tragedy last December. Based on a press statement of the company last 27 Dec. 2020, they have provided various forms of financial and other assistance to the immediate families of its deceased workers. [3] Additionally, CCC also offered employment opportunities for the victims’ next of kin, spouse and children. “CCC has given the same attention to the immediate family of the missing CCC employees and will afford them of the same commitments CCC provided to the family of the deceased,” according to the company’s statement. CCC also extended support to the family of the contractor who was among the victims. [3] On 8 Feb. 2021, Toledo City Mayor, Hon. Marjorie Piczon-Perales along with Vice-Mayor Jay B. Go met the families of the victims at the open shed of the City Hall Garden to provide them with “ayuda” or financial assistance. This was posted on the Toledo City Public Information Office social media page. The mayor granted the families of deceased workers the amount of Php15 million. For the victims who are injured, they were given Php5 million. Additionally, they were all given food packs. [4] On 29 Jan. 2021, the Office of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go distributed assistance to the Toledo City residents who were affected by the landslide in CCC mine. This was held at the Carmen Copper Recreation Center, Toledo City, Cebu. During the distribution, 248 families received meals, financial assistance, food packs, vitamins, face masks and face shields. Senator Go also gave bicycles and shoes to selected recipients, and computer tablets for their children to be used for online classes. Health and safety protocols were strictly implemented to avoid the further spread of COVID-19. The Senator was not present during the distribution but he sent them a video message with words of encouragement. [5] Senator Go also offered assistance to those who needed major medical operations such as heart surgeries. He urged those in need of such medical attention to seek assistance from any of the Malasakit Centers in the province. [5] While the local and national government along with CCC are busy sending assistance to the families of the victims of the December landslide, mining industry in general received backlashes from various groups who believe that the deaths and injuries could have been prevented. Barely a month before the landslide, there had been reports from residents of Barangay Biga in Toledo City who claim they warned officials of the MGB Central Visayas and CCC as well about large cracks in the village prior to the landslide. However, they said that their appeal was not properly addressed. [6] Biga Barangay Captian Pedro Sepada Jr. told a local newspaper in Cebu last 29 Dec. 2020 that prior to the landslide, barangay officials called for an emergency consultative meeting on 26 Nov. 2020 with representatives of CCC, MGB 7 and Biga residents to talk about the possible measures to be done after the cracks were discovered. Sepada said that MGB 7 Director Armando Malicse and CCC Vice President for Safety, Ignas Alburo were present. No representative from the Toledo City government was present. Sepada noted that during the meeting, they were not given a concrete response or alternative solution by CCC or MGB to provide assurance to the residents that they will all be safe while mining operations are ongoing. But Sepada said that they were simply told by MGB 7 and CCC officials that their place remained safe. [6] According to the local news reports in Toledo City, residents now believe the huge cracks caused the fatal landslide.      “It was only after the landslide last Dec. 21, that they declared our area to be unsafe within a radius of 600-meter distance from the pipeline of Carmen Copper. They now say it’s unsafe. What happened to their guarantee of safety before?” [6] Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said last December that they shall leave the investigation to MGB before implementing any course of action. She mentioned that she will leave it up to the MGB 7 to decide whether or not CCC has any liability.  Garcia said, “The investigation is not our expertise nor is that our mandate. MGB has already issued a suspension of operations and MGB is going to undertake the investigation. So let’s put things in proper perspective. While the investigation is ongoing, perhaps it is best to wait for the results.” [6] “I am not taking any sides. I want to be as objective as possible. However, there are some personalities who are not as objective because they have their own interest in Carmen Copper. They want to control so that they can do business with Carmen Copper. This is a warning to those who want to make it difficult.” Garcia also noted that CCC mining operations have given so much to Toledo City in terms of employment and the city’s development. She said that a thorough investigation is needed in order to prevent those with “personal interest” in the mining operations of CCC from ruining the lives of so many people working there. [6] Garcia assured the Province will provide assistance and support to the families of miners who died and those who remain missing after the landslide. [6] Renester P. Suraltra, a college professor wrote a commentary last December on SunStar Cebu with the title “Toledo tragedy: The untold story”. He wrote, “Who is always responsible for any mining accident? Is it nature or man? Who is at fault? Is it the bad weather or the safety engineer?” “Accidents may happen in the workplace but it can also be avoided. We can’t discount the fact that accidents can happen because of unsafe supervision, lack of situation awareness, and failure to identify the potential threat. That’s the job of the safety engineer under the direction and supervision of sympathetic and responsible management. If workers are dying frequently then responsible mining is a big issue.” “There is another lesson to be learned in the Toledo mining tragedy. We should never compromise safety and security. We can’t always blame nature out of man’s folly. One should think that the mining industry provides short-term revenue but long-term harmful effect on nature and the environment. Life is much precious than copper and gold.” [7] Acknowledgement: Ryan Peter Vivo Penaranda for Cebuano to English translation from some news articles   Reference: [1] Mines and Geosciences Bureau Press Release (22 Dec. 2020)."Carmen Copper Mine In-Pit Landslide Incident". [2] ANV (23 Dec. 2020). SunStar Cebu. "Listahan sa namatay, missing sa Carmen pit gipagawas". [3] WBS and PR (27 Dec. 2020). SunStar Cebu. "Carmen Copper Corp. commits to help landslide victims' families".  [4] Toledo City Public Information Office Facebook Page (8 Feb. 2021). "Families of the victims of the land in Biga Pit Gitagaan ug ayuda in Toledo". [5] Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Facebook Page (31 Jan. 2021). "Hundreds of Toledo City, Cebu residents affected by a copper mine landslide receive assistance from Senator Bong Go". [6] Sabalo, Wenilyn (30 Dec. 2020). SunStar Cebu. "Biga chief claims please ignored before landslide". Retrieved from - https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1881418/Cebu/Local-News/Biga-chief-claims-pleas-ignored-before-landslide [7] Suralta, Renester P. (27 Dec. 2020). SunStar Cebu. "Tell it to SunStar: Toledo tragedy: The untold story". Retrieved from - https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1881194

Commentary

Patricia A. O. Bunye - March 17, 2021

International Women in Mining and the Wawa Weir 2 Project

  Kicking off International Women’s Month, the International Women in Mining Alliance (IWIM) Alliance held its first ever-virtual Global WIM Summit on March 1-2.  Through the wonder of technology, I had the pleasure of connecting with other IWIM leaders throughout the world without having to hop on a plane and despite our differences in time zones. The summit also combined live and pre-recorded sessions which made it possible to view sessions at leisure. Diwata-Women in Resource Development, Inc, of which I was Founding President, is IWIM’s member organization in the Philippines.  There are currently at least 37 IWIM organizations throughout the world. The Alliance is a pioneering initiative that brings IWIM organizations together to leverage their collective strength to provide a global, multilateral platform that will facilitate collaboration among them and promote the emergence of a strong, unified IWIM voice.  Prior to its launch, the different IWIM organizations were under a loose umbrella, getting together only occasionally for teleconferences to exchange ideas and experiences.   Last year, IWIM  embarked on a strategic partnership with the World Bank on a research project to gather  information to understand the opportunities and constraints women in mining organizations face.   Results of the research project have been collated in a report to be published online and presented at international mining conferences starting with the Global WIM Summit.  It will also be presented at Mining Indaba, PDAC, the World Bank's 2nd Gender Conference, and other events. In November last year, Diwata’s core group, led by our President, Atty. Joan Adaci-Cattiling, were interviewed by the World Bank’s researcher on  the challenges we have faced, the lessons we have learned and our recommendations for strengthening IWIM organizations.  Hearing excerpts of the final report, it was heartening to know that our sisters in other IWIM organizations face the same challenges, including difficulty in obtaining funding, dependence on the efforts of volunteers and getting members who are busy with their day jobs to engage. One session that I would have wanted to attend, but missed was on “Role Models and Mentors for Women in Mining”.  While women are very well represented in all facets of the mining industry (as geologists, mining engineers, metallurgists, environmental scientists, community relations officers,  lawyers, accountants, human resources professionals, adminstrative staff, truck drivers, etc.), we want to see the numbers of women at the very top increase. Recently, the Philippines topped Grant Thornton International’s 2021 Women in Business Report, a global survey among 29 economies on the role of women in senior management.   While I do not have the figures for the mining industry, a quick “scan of the room” will show the male mining CEOs still outnumber the women.  Thankfully, we have strong figures likes Gloria Tan Climaco, Chairman of the Board of Filminera Resources Corporation and Mt. Labo Exploration and Development Corporation, and Diwata’s own Joan Adaci-Cattiling, President of OceanaGold (Philippines), Inc., as exemplars. Before the March 2020 lockdown, Diwata was scheduled to launch its 'Industry Leaders' professional mentorship & networking program (with Gloria Tan Climaco as the first speaker), which is designed to benefit female professionals through interaction with respected resource persons, professional mentorship and networking opportunities.  While it is entirely possible to hold this activity online in the near future, we are still looking forward to in-person connections with our members soon, particularly young women mining professionals who will most benefit from the program. In the eight years of Diwata’s existence, perhaps we have focused on the word “resources” in its name to refer to natural resources, but we have not lost sight of our equally valuable human resources.  To build and sustain the mining industry, we must support the professional development and career progression of the women who “hold up half the sky”.     On February 26, I had the pleasure of emceeing the Philippine Infrastructure & Construction Club’s webinar on the Prime BMD Wawa Weir 2 Project featuring Prime BMD’s CEO J.V. Emmanuel A. “Jocot” De Dios and Director of Operations, Jeff Gallus.  They were joined by their colleague, Gisoue (Jeff) Pani, who focused on the technical aspects of the project.  Once completed, the Wawa Weir 2 Project is expected to deliver 518 million liters per day (MLD) of water to 500,000 households within Manila Water Co. Inc.’s franchise area.  The presentation was very timely as water is a basic necessity that cannot be taken for granted, especially as pointed out by Jocot, our population grows and migration into Metro Manila increases the demand for water. In the webinars that I have hosted and attended, I have noted that the attendees are less shy about asking questions.  Perhaps this is because 99% of webinars start punctually compared to live events, and more time can be devoted to the Q&A. In the Q&A on the Wawa Weir 2 Project, the questions ranged from technical to practical (“who do we contact in your company”), but what I found most interesting were Jocot’s responses to observations that Prime BMD appears to have handled its community relations well.  In the case of Prime BMD, Jocot says that there is no tried and tested formula or template, but what has worked well for them is ensuring respect for the communities, particularly the indigenous communities, in their project area, constantly engaging with them to understand their needs, and upholding their culture and traditions.   This is of course easier said than done, but it seems, at least in this respect, Prime BMD has succeeded where other companies have faced much difficulty.   Patricia A. O. Bunye is a Senior Partner at Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia where she heads its Mining & Natural Resources Department and Energy practice group. She is also the Founding President of Diwata-Women in Resource Development, Inc., a non-government organization advocating the responsible development of the Philippines’ wealth in resources, principally through industries such as mining, oil and gas, quarrying, and other mineral resources from the earth for processing.

Commentary

Fernando Penarroyo - March 17, 2021

Let’s Make It A Better 2021

  COVID-19 and its impact on the world provided a harsh lesson and wake-up call for all of us. People lost their jobs, businesses and entire fortunes on account of a virus whose origins remain a mystery. We worked from home, home schooled our kids, stayed away from senior members of our families, canceled special celebrations and well-planned vacations, and restricted our mobilities because we were afraid to catch and spread the virus. But the one thing that we will never forget is loved ones and friends losing their battle to this horrible illness. In 2020, the Philippine economy started on the wrong foot. It began with the eruption of the Taal Volcano creating a setback in the agriculture and tourism industries in Cavite and Batangas. Typhoons Rolly (international name Goni), Siony (Atsani), and Ulysses (Vamco) that hit the country in November in just a span of two weeks also brought considerable devastation to a large area in Luzon. These natural calamities and the pandemic caused a plunge in private domestic demand, deep contraction in investment activities, and weak exports bringing down the economy to -9.5%, its worst performance since the country began releasing growth data in 1947. After a long bout of physical exhaustion, mental fatigue, emotional stress, and apprehension,  somehow we felt a bit of relief that the long and dragging 2020 ended. There was a feeling of ambivalence as we reminisced the past year. We felt exuberant that we made it out alive from 2020 but melancholy for those who continued to suffer or didn’t make it through. However, the same mixed reactions and emotions continue to haunt us in 2021 as we are fully aware that though vaccines are being rolled out in succession, emerging variants of the virus bring uncertainties to our lives. Like a ship in a raging storm coasting along the shore, we can see the lighthouse but the waves prevent our vessel from getting to safe harbor. Certainly, there are still challenges that should not put us in complacency. If there is indeed a rebound that will return us to some semblance of normalcy, I don’t believe that we’ll ever return to where we were before. We will continue to wear masks, limit in-person meetings, and practice physical distancing, afraid that there will be another virus waiting to unleash its force with more tenacity and strength. We will continue to adjust our daily existence depending on how new developments in science will provide the safeguards to physical interaction and provide  adequate disease prevention and cure.   Coping with the pandemic “What happens to me now that my livelihood is gone? How will I pay my suppliers, creditors, and employees? Will the banks foreclose on my mortgages? Where will I get the capital to start all over again? Am I still employable? Will my kids have to stop going to school? How is my family going to survive? How will I get back on my feet?” We are all saddled with negative thoughts. Sometimes the more we think about negativity, the less we become creative and confident. Acting unkind to ourselves during these difficult times serves no purpose but to pile on more anxiety. We must confront the brutal realities head-on by resolving to be patient and steadfast. Undoubtedly 2021 will hold new challenges. This is the reality of life. Yet like those we’ve faced before, what matters most is not the problems themselves, but how well we’ve responded to them and how we’ve applied their lessons to grow and thrive in our lives. There are probably a million reasons not to smile during the pandemic. Some people struggle on a daily basis to look for the next meal, payment for rents, and money to buy the bare necessities. Some people vented their anger and frustration in social media. If you’re actually doing it, take a minute to realize that you have the literacy, luxury of time, and internet connectivity to read and type in your device. You have the ability to access the whole world with your gadget while others struggle to meet their most essential needs and probably wish for things you are currently enjoying. In many ways, all the reasons for complaining seem to be trivial and certainly no reason to bicker about. It is definitely better to flash that smile behind the mask than rant online. It is better to be content with what you have and strive hard to survive for the future. We’re all on the same team in the same boat. All of us need some form of encouragement and everyone will benefit if we decide to argue less and understand more. We are often tempted to be couch potatoes during these times when our mobility is hampered. We tend to binge on online entertainment and video games, which does not physically or mentally nurture us. Being busy is the best way to avoid feeling empty and dull. 2020 was touted by astrologers and feng shui masters to be an auspicious year for wealth building and the year people would get everything they wanted. No one predicted that 2020 will be the exact opposite. COVID-19 made us realize that there are certain aspects of our life that are uncontrollable. Instead of losing ourselves in despair and anxiety by focusing on situations beyond our control, it was our moment to reconnect to a deeper sense of purpose, promote our individual faith, and commune with nature.   Hoping for a better 2021 In 2020, we lost the ability to physically connect with others at our usual places of congregation in offices, schools, restaurants, concerts, sporting events, homecomings, and church services. Now we look forward to reconnecting in-person with others including people who we often took for granted before. Though we may realize that returning to the old normal is not possible in the near future, at least there is hope that 2021 will bring us some respite from the virus. Most people expect things to start to return to a restrictive new normal as vaccines have arrived and inoculations began.  For some of us, it will take some time until we have access to the vaccine, but as more people get it, there is a bigger chance that fewer people will acquire or die from the virus. The good news is that science has made us understand the virus better and will help humanity prepare for the next virus outbreak. We now see things from a different perspective. We appreciate our families, our friends, and everything that we have. We cherish not only our own lives but simple things like our environment and nature as a whole. We indulge in activities that nourish our physical and mental well-being.  We start to have leisurely walks, road tours by bike, and indulge in our hobbies like growing plants and cooking. We see brand new clothes and shoes, unused and gathering dusts in our closets. We see cars parked idly in our garage because our movement is restricted. Nature has decided for us that now we need to own less. The pandemic has given us the opportunity to heal, preserve, and strengthen our bodies. It was also a time to cultivate more positive emotions – gratitude, compassion for self and others, connection and intimacy with family and optimism. It taught us to refocus on the most important things in life. What should we expect for 2021? 2021 is the time to dedicate ourselves to reflect, renew, and reset our lives after a tumultuous 2020 beset by failures and disappointments. It is a propitious time to reflect on where we’re at and where we want to be. It is the moment to renew our commitment to be a better person and make positive choices in life. It is the point of realization to reset everything and start anew after embracing our failures and making sure that things will turn out differently. Some people experience a positive change as a result of their struggle with a major life crisis or traumatic event. Success waits for people who can cope with the ongoing uncertainty. “What have we done differently in 2020 to cope with the pandemic?” For some of us who managed to navigate the pandemic with a positive attitude, the ongoing crisis honed our adaptability, resilience, agility,   and tenacity. Just because our plans got derailed last year is no reason not to set our sights on our goals. Consider 2020 as a temporary setback and continue to believe in ourselves and trust our abilities to recover. We have to set a daily goal to keep us on our toes and motivate us to continue studying, and working. We must make it a point not to waste any day, any moment, or any amount of energy remaining as we continue to live on. Our inner confidence will allow us to direct our time and talent to our vision and ultimate goals. Our purpose should not be limited by the plans that fell through in 2020 or what we were unable to do. If we learn from our failures and take full responsibility, our trials will make us successful. And in time, we'll be even more successful, because we'll never stop trying to be better than we are today. Successful people have a purpose in life. They generate excitement, dedication and passion and these they share their passions with others. If we've found a purpose, something that inspires and fuels us to stand up and achieve, then we’re living life the way we want it. We are now witnessing the unprecedented development of different vaccines produced by both private and state-sponsored companies. Science-based and democratic institutions are much needed to address the vaccine development and roll-out. It is now government’s responsibility to procure them cheaply and distribute them within the soonest possible time. Hopefully, the end to the pandemic is near at hand though we’re not there yet. In the meantime, we should continue to be vigilant about our own safety and that of others. The challenge now is to educate a misinformed populace about the enduring risks of the coronavirus and the disinformation that circulates on social media on the necessity to be vaccinated. Vaccine hesitancy is a global health threat especially in developing countries. Even if a coronavirus vaccine is made available to everyone, people especially our front liners and elders need to be convince to get it.   Personal reflections There were some silver linings in the clouds despite the pale and gloom that came in 2020. People learned how to become creative in augmenting their incomes and made use of their time for self-improvement. Since people no longer have to endure wasted hours spent in traffic, people working from home have become more productive. Meetings and conferences are easier to organize and attend. People actually looked forward to seeing their colleagues online to break the monotony of working alone. Attending professional and self-improvement webinars and getting accreditation from such became easier. Parents and children shared meals, bonded, and communicated forging stronger relationships never experienced during the time before the pandemic. Parents suddenly were getting involved in school work making sure that the kids are not getting shortchanged in their online schooling. People learned new skills and pursued a variety of home-based businesses and recreational activities. I know of some friends who renewed their passion in reading, cooking, gardening, painting and other personal pursuits which they have passed off in favor of the corporate rat race in their concrete jungles. Some of them turned their passions into successful online businesses. I discovered myself, learned to understand my quirks, and made it easy on myself. I believed we were brought up in a culture of accumulating material possessions which paled in comparison to the actual life-giving pursuits we have taken for granted. I see each day as a gift of life and another opportunity to live because many people had such chance taken from them. To keep myself busy, I made a thorough search of all the articles and photographs I have saved in my computer through the years. I compiled my Master or Laws research papers, notes, and powerpoint presentations accumulated in my teaching and lecturing vocation.  I organized them, created my website and uploaded them in my blog site.  It was the next best thing to writing and publishing a book. I also wrote blogs about music, films, arts, and even K-dramas. I tried perfecting my pasta recipes. I made a point to walk around the village everyday and converted part of our garage to a mini-gym. I continued to look after my health through video consultations with my doctors. Due to the physical distancing and travel restriction guidelines during the pandemic, what I really missed was our trekking group’s outdoor activities. I missed climbing mountains and camping in forests and mountain base camps. Nevertheless, with my new found time, it allowed me to take in the beauty of nature right in my own surroundings. I learned to slow down, relax and appreciate the good and simple things in my mundane life. I enjoyed staying under the sun and proverbially stopped to smell the flowers. The air was noticeably clean.  During a lakeshore drive, I could clearly gaze at both the high-rises of Bonifacio Global City and the wind farms nestled on the Sierra mountain range of Rizal while taking a whiff of fresh air. Despite the pandemic, I continued to write articles for Philippine Resources as a way of getting myself updated with the resources and infrastructure industries. I did a lot of online lectures and webinars, gave interviews, and acted as resource speaker for online forums and conferences as part of my advocacy for renewable energy and responsible mining. My audience were varied - leaders of various industries, law school organizations, students and professionals involved in the mining and renewable energy industry, and geology majors reviewing for their board exams. These activities were my mental exercises. Though I certainly prefer in-person interaction, the good thing about my online lectures was that participants have overcome their nerves by interacting virtually compared to a physical seminar or conference. I noticed that participants in my webinars and lectures were more active in engaging me with their questions and comments. Surprisingly, even technically-challenged seniors have learned to master the internet and online meetings, including screen sharing of their presentations and files. I wish an instant reboot of life if not a total deletion from my memory of the enduring tragedies we experienced in 2020. I desire to return to people interacting without wearing wearing face masks and not conscious of any physical distance. But I realize that our lives will not return to our previous normal overnight. My motto is to survive in order to strive and prepare myself for the new normal. It will be a gradual and slow learning process beset with both small victories and temporary setbacks. Chaos and crises will not follow a timeline. The underlying challenges we encountered in 2020 will continue to haunt us well into the forthcoming years until the virus has totally been eradicated and the traumatic memories would just become a mere footnote in mankind’s history like the Spanish flu of the previous century. In 2020, we see how quickly our lives changed with the blink of our eyes. We realized that we are not in total control of the world. But the best part is that we are in total control of ourselves and we can certainly control how we interact with the world around us. That basically makes all the difference. We hope that 2021 will be a brighter and better year. Perhaps we can find inspiration in the biblical story of Job. After Job was made to suffer all misfortunes and tragedies in life, “…the Lord blessed the later days of Job more than his earlier ones ... Job lived a hundred and forty years; and he saw his children, his grandchildren, and even his great-grandchildren. Then Job died, old and full of years.” A better 2021 starts with a better “me”. Perhaps after a full year of a better 2021, we can look forward to a 2022 that will be even better.   Fernando “Ronnie” S. Penarroyo specializes in Energy and Resources Law, Project Finance and Business Development. He may be contacted at fspenarroyo@penpalaw.com for any matters or inquiries in relation to the Philippine resources industry. Atty. Penarroyo’s commentaries are also archived at his professional blogsite at www.penarroyo.com

Construction

Philippine Resources - March 16, 2021

The Latest CALAX Segment is Scheduled to Serve 5,000 Cars A Day

  MPCALA Holdings, Inc. said that a 7.2-kilometre portion of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) between the Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road Interchange and the Silang East Interchange could open by the third quarter of this year. At an online briefing on Thursday, MPCALA President and General Manager Roberto V. Bontia announced that the latest chapter, known as Subsection 5, is scheduled to be finished third quarter this year.  Subsection 5 is part of the 45-kilometre CALAX expressway that runs from Kawit, Cavite to Mamplasan Interchange in Bian, Laguna, and is currently 83 per cent complete. “As soon as the right of way is handed over to us, we will double our construction efforts to avoid any unnecessary delay,” Bontia said. Subsection 5 was inspected by Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark A. Villar and MPCALA Holdings executives on Thursday. Villar said, “As travel restrictions are slowly but surely being lifted, this new subsection of CALAX will help accelerate economic progress in Laguna and Cavite by providing interconnection between the two provinces of Region 4-A. This segment is crucial since it is expected to serve almost 5,000 cars per day, and will ease traffic along Governor’s Drive, Aguinaldo Highway, and Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road once opened.” Villar also mentioned that obtaining the right of way has been difficult for the company and the Department of Public Works and Highways. “We are giving our full effort to deliver and eventually open with as little deviation to the original timeline as possible,” he said.  CALAX's first segments, which are currently operational, run from Mamplasan in Laguna to Santa Rosa. According to Villar, the operating segments service about 10,000 vehicles a day. “We target to finish the whole… stretch of CALAX and serve 50,000 cars before 2022 ends,” he said. The project is divided into eight sections: Kawit to Open Canal (section 1), Open Canal to Governor's Drive (section 2), Governor's Drive to Silang (section 3), Silang to Silang East (section 4), Silang East to Santa Rosa (section 5) and Santa Rosa to Mamplasan (section 6). (subsections 6, 7, & 8). The P35.43 billion project is expected to minimize travel time between the Manila-Cavite Expressway and the South Luzon Expressway from 2.5 hours to 45 minutes when fully operational. MPCALA Holdings is a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., which is one of three main Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc.

Mining

Philippine Resources - March 16, 2021

Income of Nickel Asia Up 52%

  NICKEL ASIA Corp. gained P4.07 billion in attributable net profits in 2020, up 51.9 per cent year over year due to higher ore export rates. The listed business said in a regulatory filing on Thursday that total revenues increased 21.5 per cent to P21.77 billion from P17.92 billion in 2019. In the disclosure, the firm said, “The significant improvement in the realized nickel price of the combined ore exports and ore deliveries to the two plants in 2020 more than offset the slight decline in sales volume and the less favourable (Philippine) Peso to United States Dollar exchange rate.” Nickel Asia announced that it exported 10 million wet metric tons (WMT) of nickel ore in 2020, down from 10.4 million WMT the previous year. Despite lower ore exports, export prices increased 45 per cent year over year in 2020, to $33.99 per WMT. Ore supplies to the Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. (THPAL) and Coral Bay Nickel Corp. (CNBC) HPAL plants fell 2.4 per cent to 8.2 million WMT in 2020, according to Nickel Asia, with an average price of $6.22 per pound of payable nickel. Nickel Asia said, “On a combined basis, the company sold a total of 18.2 million WMT at $22.46 per WMT and 18.8 million WMT at $16.69 per WMT in 2020 and 2019, respectively.” Total operating cash costs for 2020 increased 1% year on year to P10.68 billion, according to the company. It went on to say that the realized Philippine Peso to US Dollar exchange rate for ore sales in 2020 was P49.15, down from P51.72 the previous year. Nickel Asia President and Chief Executive Officer Martin Antonio G. Zamora reported that demand for nickel ore remained stable despite the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. He said, “As Indonesia resumed its ban on direct export of nickel ore at the start of 2020, we realized higher prices for our ore exports. In spite of every consequence the global standstill brought, we took care of our people, we focused on our communities, and Nickel Asia survived 2020.” Nickel Asia's stock gained 7.21 per cent, or 0.37 centavos, to P5.50 apiece on the stock exchange on Thursday. Meanwhile, Atlas Consolidated Mining and Production Corp. reported on Thursday that its Carmen Copper Corp. (CCC) has been granted permission by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to resume mining operations in the Carmen Pit. The approval, however, does not allow for the resumption of work at the sections affected by the slide that occurred on December 21 last year, according to CCC. CCC stated that it will continue to enforce safety measures in the reconstruction of affected areas at the pit and that it is collaborating closely with various regulatory agencies and local government units to resolve the ongoing rehabilitation efforts. CCC's operations were halted in December after a slide occurred at its mining site in Toledo City, Cebu, due to heavy rains triggered by Typhoon Vicky. At least four people were killed. Atlas Mining's stock rose 2.22 per cent, or 14 centavos, to end the day at P6.46 per share on the stock exchange on Thursday.

Mining

Philippine Resources - March 11, 2021

CMC and RTNMC Awarded PMIEA

The Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA) has been awarded to Cagdianao Mining Corp. (CMC), based in Valencia, in Dinagat Islands, and Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. (RTNMC), based in Bataraza in Palawan, for outstanding initiatives in the pursuit of excellence in environmental management. CMC and RTNMC are subsidiaries of NAC, the country’s largest nickel supplier. “The award for 2020 is made more significant because of the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19. Our employees had to exert double efforts and had to sacrifice personal time in order to achieve our goals, to ensure 100 per cent implementation of our commitments to all our stakeholders in the mining communities” explained Engr. Arnilo C. Milaor, Resident Mine Manager at CMC. Last year, the Dinagat-based company also received the Presidential Award.  “The improved living conditions in the mining areas are proof of our commitment to the communities. One outstanding CMC project for example is the 19.2-kilometre farm-to-market road worth P12 Million pesos, connecting 5 barangays from 2 municipalities to the main provincial road, effectively providing the residents access to basic services like the hospital, and, most importantly, efficient access to trade and commerce,” said Engr. Aloysius C. Diaz, NAC VP for Operations. Rio Tuba Nickel has never stopped its operations and has won the Presidential Award 4 times – 2002, 2015, 2018, and 2020. “With strict enforcement of preventive measures against COVID-19 to protect employees and our host communities, we did not have work stoppage with no recorded-case of infection within the mine site, and, most significantly, we did not lay-off any worker” shared Engr. Cynthia E. Rosero, RTN’s Resident Mine Manager. According to Environmental Planner, Janice M. Tupas, Manager of the Mines Environmental Protection and Enhancement Dept. (MEPED) of RTN, “The qualifiers or applicants for the PMIEA must achieve a final rating of more than 95%. There are significant points also for ‘no unresolved notice of violations’; ‘compliance to operational and legal obligations, and no fatal work-related accidents.”

Construction

Philippine Resources - March 10, 2021

New Terminal at Clark Airport Set to Open in July

The firm that manages the operations and maintenance of Clark International Airport, Luzon International Premier Airport Development (LIPAD) Corp., plans to open the airport's new passenger terminal building to commercial domestic flights in July with "contactless passenger solutions," according to its top official. “It will open by July for domestic operations,” LIPAD Chief Executive Officer Bi Yong S. Chungunco said.  She stated that the interior design of the building is well underway. LIPAD intends to enforce a "silent airport scheme," with the aim of making the airport the "quietest" in the Philippines. This ensures that boarding and departure calls will no longer be made unless there is an emergency. In a statement, the firm said, “Travelers will rely on posted updates for quick reference. Passengers will be more at ease with the options that have no face-to-face interaction. Among these are the common-use self-service kiosks (CUSS) and the self-service bag drops. Travellers can check-in at these kiosks, shared by other airlines and that are without the need for ground staff.” Chungunco said the interior design of the new passenger terminal building would be "deeply intuitive," as the company strives to offer passengers a sense of familiarity. “For travellers to be fully relaxed and at ease, the processes must not be confusing. Travellers of all kinds have varying backgrounds and such a design allows for each traveller to have that feeling of being guided through the process through the interplay of finer details, even with the protocols for safe distancing and all necessary measures to ensure passenger safety in a pandemic,” LIPAD said. Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure Ltd. constructed the new terminal building, which can handle 8 million passengers a year. Clark airport currently has a passenger capacity of 4.2 million per year. The old passenger terminal building, according to Chungunco, could be turned into a vaccination centre.

Construction

Philippine Resources - March 10, 2021

Makati Subway Builder Signs Deal

Philippine Infradev Holdings Inc. announced that it had signed new agreements for the funding and acquisition of lots for the $3.7 billion Makati City Subway Project. In a filing with the stock exchange, Philippine Infradev said Makati City Subway Inc. had signed a term sheet agreement with Richer Today Inc. (RTI) to create a joint venture company that would finance and acquire lots in and around Manila. RTI agreed to release at least P775.885 million within 120 days of signing the term sheet, with at least P234.73 million to be released within 10 days of signing, according to the group. “Station 5 has been identified as the main construction site where the tunnel boring machines will be assembled and lowered,” Philippine Infradev said. According to the company, the first group of engineers from its Chinese contractor had arrived and were finalizing construction plans. The 10-station train system runs for ten kilometres and makes stops at strategic locations in Makati. Meanwhile, the company announced that it had reached an agreement with Hong Kong Binjiang Industrial Limited to mutually terminate MSCI's share purchase agreement. “It has been almost 1 year since the transactions contemplated in the agreement were submitted to the Philippine Competition Commission for approval, and to date, the same is still pending review,” the company said. “The effectivity of the transactions contemplated in the agreement, specifically the release of funds earmarked by HK Binjiang, was conditioned on the PCC’s approval of the transactions.” In February 2020, MSCI signed an investment agreement with HK Binjiang which will gain a 35-per cent direct interest in MCSI under the terms of the agreement by purchasing 15 million common shares for $30 million, payable within 10 business days of the agreement's effective date. For $72 million, HK Binjiang will purchase 36 million primary common shares of MCSI. The proposed 10-kilometre subway project will connect key locations in Makati, including Ayala Avenue's central business district, Makati City Hall, the Poblacion Heritage Site, the University of Makati, the Ospital ng Makati, and other new neighbourhoods. By 2024 or 2025, the project is expected to be finished.

Construction

Philippine Resources - March 10, 2021

DOTr Pushes to Fastrack Railway Projects

To meet their target start of operations, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has fast-tracked the construction of Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phases 1 and 2. Running from Tutuban in Manila to Malolos, the 38-kilometre PNR Clark Phase 1 is the first part of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR). The overall rate is at 43 per cent with an 11.78 per cent construction phase rate as of the end of January. Once finished, the expected travel time will now be 30 to 35 minutes from the original 1 hour with passengers at 330,000 daily.  “This will be partially operable by the fourth quarter of 2021 and full operations in the second quarter of 2024,” PNR general manager Junn Magno said. Meanwhile, as of the end of January, the 53-km PNR Clark Phase 2 from Malolos to Clark in Pampanga has an overall progress rate of 27.79 per cent. Once completed, travel time between Bulacan and Pampanga will be cut to 30 minutes or 35 minutes from the original 1 hour. It can also bring 150,000 people daily. The second segment may be partially operational by the second quarter of 2023, while fully operational by the third quarter of 2024.  PNR Calamba, a 56-km line that runs from Solis, Manila to Calamba, Laguna, is the last segment and is expected to cut travel time from three hours to just one hour.

Industry

Philippine Resources - March 10, 2021

AG&P Receives Go Signal for LNG Terminal

Atlantic Gulf & Pacific Company (AG&P) has recently disclosed that its Philippines subsidiary has received the go signal to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import and regasification terminal in Batangas Bay, south of Manila. The company, part-owned by Japan Bank for International Cooperation and Osaka Gas said the Philippines' energy department has issued a notice to go ahead to develop the terminal, known as Philippines LNG, which will provide fuel to the power plant, industrial and commercial customers and other consumers. Philippines LNG is now the fifth planned LNG import terminal in the Southeast Asian nation, which seeks the fuel as the Malampaya gas field in western Philippine waters, which is expected to run dry this decade. There are also four other terminals worth about 65 billion pesos ($1.34 billion) which are in the midst of final closure or approval.  AG&P said that Philippines LNG will have an initial capacity to bring up to three million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of regasified LNG, with additional capacity for liquid distribution According to the firm, this will also have a scalable onshore regasification capacity of 420 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd) and almost 200,000 cubic metres (cbm) of storage. The statement, however, did not reveal the financial details of the project. The firm has already finished its pre-development work for the terminal, expected to be commissioned by mid-2022.

Construction

Philippine Resources - March 10, 2021

DOTr Triples CAPEX for Railway Projects

The 11 big railway infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration has caused the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to triple its capital expenditure from P90.756 billion in 2021 to P278.3 billion in 2022.  Among these projects include the P9.5 billion LRT-2 East (Masinag) Extension, the P22 billion MRT-3 Rehabilitation, the P3 billion Common Station, the P65 billion LRT-1 Cavite Extension, the P68.2 billion MRT-7, the P50 billion Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase 1, key facilities of the P357 billion Metro Manila Subway Project, and the P82 billion Mindanao Rail Project. Some of the recent developments: construction of the PNR Clark Phase 1 from Tutuban to Malolos in Bulacan has a 43 per cent overall progress; MRT-3’s full rehabilitation will be completed this December; LRT-1 Cavite Extension Project Package will be fully operational fourth quarter this year; the LRT-2 East (Masinag) Extension Project, from Marikina Station to Antipolo Station, will be inaugurated on April 26, 2021, and will start partial operations the next day; the Mindanao Railway Project Phase 1, the Tagum-Davao-Digos Segment will be partially operable in March 2022; MRT-7 will be partially operational in December 2021 and fully operational in December 2022. Meanwhile, tunnel boring for the 1st Metro Manila subway will commence in the third quarter of 2021.  The annual direct economic cost of congestion in Metro Manila amounts to P1.277 trillion, which made the current administration allocate P7 to P8 trillion for infrastructure projects, much more than the total state investments in the sector for the past two decades. 

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Mining

Philippine Resources - March 10, 2021

Chamber of Mines to tap Independent Verifiers

According to a top official, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), which represents some of the country's largest mining companies, will hire independent verifiers to assess members' compliance with society's growing standards regarding the mining industry's social, economic, and environmental performance. COMP Chairman Gerard Brimo said that the main task of the verifiers is to review COMP members’ self-assessment reports on their mining projects. This is amid the adoption of Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM), an environment and social governance standard established by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC).  “This year, we will begin our search for independent external verifiers who will be tasked to evaluate the self-assessment reports of mining projects,” said Brimo, who also serves as the President of Nickel Asia Corp. “The external verifiers who will be vetted and approved by the COI [Community of Interest] Panel will undergo extensive training early next year with the assistance of MAC as we prepare for external verification of our members’ reports in 2023.” In 2017, COMP adopted TSM in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s that he will support mining as long it follows the Australian and Canadian standard. In spite of the ire of the pandemic last year, COMP completed the “Filipinization” process for TSM to make sure that the program is responsive to Philippine conditions. A COI Advisory Panel has approved this and was sent to COMP members in August and September.  ‘’We have strong faith in TSM’s continuous standard enhancement approach spearheaded by Canada.  Not only will TSM help our members further improve their operations,” said Brimo. More importantly, it will tremendously boost our efforts to meet society’s growing expectations on the mining industry’s social, economic, and environmental performance.” Other countries that have also adopted the TSM include Norway, Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Botswana, Finland, and Australia. 

Mining

Philippine Resources - March 10, 2021

THPAL Wins First PMIEA Award

Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA) from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has awarded Mineral processing plant Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation (THPAL) with its first presidential award, the Best Mining Forest Award in the mineral processing plant category for 2020. MGB and the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) have also awarded THPAL as runner-up in the safest mines award in the same category. Started in 1997, the annual awards industry players for "outstanding levels of dedication, initiative, and innovation in the pursuit of excellence in environmental management, development of host and neighbouring communities, land use improvement, exploration, and mining site rehabilitation and final decommissioning." In spite of the pandemic, the awards ceremony still pushed through, said MGB. The awards committee has conducted offsite validations on 18 contenders through the use of technology and with the help of the MGB's regional offices. "This recognition speaks of THPAL’s commitment towards community transformation, environmental protection, and promotion of safety culture. This is in line with the philosophy of total development by improving the quality of life while caring for the wealth of creation given to mankind. The Management is grateful to all employees who exerted their tireless effort to make THPAL’s commitment possible, and this award is just an outcome of such relentless dedication,” THPAL Plant Manager Osamu Nakai said.

Mining

Philippine Resources - March 10, 2021

Philex Still Searching for Strategic Partners

In the development of the Silangan copper and gold project in Surigao del Norte, Philex Mining Corporation has continued its search for strategic partners, saying that it is currently in discussion with potential investors. “We are closely working with our financial advisors in the search for a strategic partner and this includes several major Chinese mining companies,” Philex said. Philex president and CEO Eulalio Austin earlier said that Morgan Stanley is helping the firm with its search.  However, searching for the right investors has proved to be challenging as the firm earlier targeted to raise at least $350 million by the first half of 2020, which was to be raised as equity, and the balance of $400 million through loans. “The pandemic has slowed down global M&A (merger and acquisition) transactions and the investors for Silangan project is no exception,” Philex said. In December, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has renewed its mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) - which covers another 25 years of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Silangan Mindanao Mining Co. Inc., the operator of the $750-million Silangan copper and gold project. Austin said that the firm is working closely with the financial advisor to bring Silangan into operation and to also optimize its Padcal mine. The firm also added that with the recent trend in costs, the long-erm prospective for copper and gold has also tremendously increased the interest of global investors in the Silagan project.  Philex noted that its core net income jumped from P156 million in 2019 to P1.16 billion in 2020. The costs of gold were at the highest in the third quarter, which has reached $1,915 per ounce, and copper was at $3.43 per pound in December 2020. Operating revenues went from P6.79 billion to P7.8 billion.  In the first and third quarter of 2020, tonnage milled at an average of 1.985 million tons per quarter. In the fourth quarter, this decreased to 1.881 million tons because of the impact of COVID. In spite of this, the production of gold went up to 56,000 ounces, and also produced 26.38 million pounds of copper. In total, Philex produced 56,000 ounces of gold and 26.379 million pounds of copper. 

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