By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Improved metal prices in the world market resulted to a slight uptick on the value of the country’s exported mineral resources but it had done very little to push or influence local miners to produce more in terms of volume.
A data from Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) showed yesterday that the country’s production of nickel, gold, copper, and mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide all went down during the first half of the year.
Production of nickel direct shipping ore particularly declined by 12 percent to 116,781 metric tons from 133,332 metric tons in the same period last year.
Among the nickel mines, Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation in Palawan, SR Metals, Inc. in Agusan Del Norte, and Carrascal Nickel Corporation in Surigao del Sur suffered the largest shortfalls.
Major producers like Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation in Palawan, and Taganito Mining Corporation in Surigao Del Norte also incurred production setbacks both in volume and value.
Of the 29 nickel mines in the country, 11, or almost 38 percent, reported zero production, whether due to suspended operations or were under care/maintenance status.
As for gold, it incurred volume deficit of 8 percent, producing only 10,703 kilograms from 11,674 kilograms last year.
This was attributed to the 31 percent, or 1,457 kilograms, production shortfall of major producers such as OceanaGold (Philippines), Inc. and Philex Mining Corporation.
Mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide and copper also reported lower plant output.
For the period, the production circle was composed of 18 nickel mines, seven gold mines with silver as co-product, four copper mines with gold and silver as co-products, one chromite mines, two nickel plant, and several small-scale gold mining operations.
The total Philippine metallic mineral production value specifically advanced by 4 percent from P52.42 billion to P54.57 billion year-on-year, or an increase of P2.14 billion.
The positive trend was brought about by the improved metal prices in the world market, MGB explained.
In terms of percentage contribution to the overall production value, gold, nickel and copper sub-sectors were the primary players.
It was during the first three months of 2018 when the metals output sank for the first time in a year, with MGB saying that given the pressing issues in the local minerals industry, “the outlook for 2018 is quite lackluster”.
But MGB also noted in this latest report that moving forward, with the issuance of new environmental policies, it is now looking at a more regulated and closely monitored mining industry.
“This is in support of the advocacy of the government to ensure a more sustainable environmental conditions at every stage of the mining operation and minimize the disturbed area of a mining project at any given time,” MGB said.