By Madelaine B. Miraflor
As the value of the country’s metal’s output in the first nine months of the year went up to P82 billion, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) suggested that the Philippines must make good use of its untapped metallic reserves since it could translate to higher revenues for the government.
MGB, the agency tasked to develop and regulate the country’s highly observed mining sector, said that as metal prices across the globe slowly picked up, the value of the country’s metallic production during the first three quarters of the year also went up by 6.06 percent, or P4.66 billion, to P81.48 billion compared to the P76.82 billion recorded in the same period in 2016.
The output, however, ended up sluggish, prompting the agency to ponder on how huge the country’s untapped mineral resources are.
“Undoubtedly, the Philippines is a well-endowed country in terms of mineral resources. With its long history and experience in mining, it has demonstrated its very rich potential for copper, gold, nickel, chromite and other metallic minerals through the commercial operation of numerous mines,” MGB said.
Based on MGB’s estimates, the country’s total estimated gold reserves in 2016 stood at 1.9 billion metric tons (MT) with an average grade of 0.16 grams per ton, while silver has 1.7 billion MT with an average grade of 1.27 grams per ton.
Copper reserves, on the other hand, were estimated to be around 1.8 billion MT, while iron and nickel has reserves of 116 million MT and 116.14 million MT, respectively. Chromite’s reserves stood around 47.3 million MT.
“To make them useful to the economy, the rich mineral resources of the Philippines have to be explored and then developed into commercial mines. Mining is both a capital-intensive and highly technical business venture,” MGB said in a statement sent on Monday night.
Right now, the country’s untapped mineral resources are projected to have a combined value of over US$1 trillion.
MGB noted that currently, only seven gold, four copper, one chromite, and 17 nickel mines reported production during the nine-month period. The rest reported zero production during the review period.
During the first nine months of the year, mine output was generally sluggish as most commodities reported production shortfall.
To be exact, only mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide (MNCS) displayed positive growth at 15 percent, from 34,275 MT to 39,455 MT year-on-year. Coral Bay Nickel Corporation in Palawan and Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation in Surigao Del Norte were the only producers of MNCS in the country.
In terms of percentage contribution to the total production value, gold continued to outperform the others, accounting for 42 percent, or P33.81 billion, followed by the combined values of nickel direct shipping ore (DSO) and MNCS with 40 percent, or P32.89 billion.
Copper, on the other hand, shared 17 percent, or P14.01 billion, while the remaining 1 percent, or P0.77 billion, came from the collective values of silver and chromite.
While gold still dominated the production scene, it is significant to note that nickel has started to substantially narrow the gap to only P1 billion, whereas in the same period last year, in terms of contribution to the total production value, the difference of gold and nickel (DSO & MNCS) was a striking P4.57 billion.
For gold production, Masbate Gold Project of Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corporation/Filminera Mining Corporation took the top spot after producing 4,633 kilograms (kg) with estimated value of P9.35 billion, while Apex Maco Operation of Apex Mining Company, Inc. led silver production with 7,065 kg valued at P192.52 million.
Toledo Copper Operations of Carmen Copper Corporation, on the other hand, dominated the copper production scene with 26,326 metric tons valued at P6.39 billion, while for nickel DSO, Claver Nickel Project of Taganito Mining Corporation reported the highest output with 38,020 metric tons valued at P2.19 billion.