By Madelaine B. Miraflor
While there’s still a large deficit in the production of nickel ore in the Philippines, the value of the country’s total metallic output — now at P50.81 billion — still managed to go up in the first six months of the year with the help of gold and improving world prices.
Data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) revealed that the total metallic production value grew by P2.08 billion in the first six months of the year, from P48.73 billion in the same period in 2016 to P50.81 billion.
This was a complete turnaround from the same period last year when the value of metals’ output declined by nearly P8 billion from P55 billion in 2015 to P48 billion in 2016.
In terms of contribution to the total metallic value, gold still ruled over the other metals during the first half, accounting for 45.04 percent or P22.89 billion.
Nickel direct shipping ore and mixed sulfides took the second spot with 36.32 percent, or P18.45 billion, followed by copper with 17.63 percent, or R8.96 billion.
The remaining 1.01 percent, or P510 million, was shared by silver and chromite.
With the exception of mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide (MNCS), which went up by 24 percent to 46,444 dry metric tons (MT), all the rest of the metallic minerals exhibited lower mine output year-on-year.
Nickel direct shipping ore particularly suffered a 24-percent setback, from 11.38 million dry MT to 8.64 million dry MT, lower by 2.74 million dry MT.
“The lackluster performance of nickel direct shipping ore was due to suspension of mining operations following the sanctions imposed by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) due to environment-related issues and concerns; zero production due to maintenance status by a number of nickel mines; and unfavorable weather condition during the period,” MGB said in an official data released on Tuesday.
During the period, exactly 11 mining projects reported no production due to regulatory issues.
Chromite, on the other hand, posted the largest deficit of 42 percent, from 11,683 dry MT in the first half of 2016 to only 6,778 dry MT in the same period this year. Third in line was copper with a decrease of 22 percent, or 38,990 dry MT.
Precious metals gold and silver also reported the same fate with a decrease of 5 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
Despite the listless mine output of metals, with the exemption of MNCS, MGB highlighted the more favorable metal prices recorded year-on-year. Hence, the sustained growth in value.
The average price of copper grew by 21.32 percent, from $2.58 per pound to $2.13 per pound. Nickel ore went up from $4.39 per pound to $3.92 per pound, while precious metals gold and silver enjoyed an improvement of 1.69 percent and 9.91 percent, respectively.
“Experts said that prices were primarily driven by stronger demand from China’s infrastructure and manufacturing sectors. This was reinforced by the supply disruptions from the world’s key copper and nickel mines,” MGB said.
“Gold price was on the upswing in the first half particularly due to strong investment demand,” it added.
The yellow metal was upbeat at US$1,238.46 per troy ounce in the first half, from US$1,217.85 per troy ounce year-on-year, a US$20.61 increase.
Masbate Gold Project of Filminera Mining Corporation & Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corporation in Bicol Province as well as OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. in Cagayan Province were the country’s major gold producers.