PH metals 9-mth output hit by global price drop

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The country’s metallic mineral output during the first three quarters of this year fell 20 percent due to lower prices in the world market, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau said.

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In a report, MGB Director Leo Jasareno said the value of metallic mineral output totaled P85.78 billion in January-September 2015, lower compared to the P107.24 billion recorded during the same period a year ago.

World metal prices of gold, silver, copper and nickel remained lackluster during the period, Jasareno noted.

The nine-month averages for gold and silver stood at $1,180.13 per troy ounce and $16.03 per troy ounce, respectively. The average price of gold fell by 8.43 percent, from $1,288.73 while that for silver slipped by 19.64 percent from $19.95.

Analysts see gold falling below the $1,100 mark before the end of 2015.

Nickel and copper prices, likewise, went down by 26.64 percent and 17.89 percent, respectively. Nickel tumbled from $7.77 per pound to $5.70 while copper dropped from $3.13 per pound to $2.57.

Jasareno said poor metal prices were brought about by the listless world economic growth and a slowdown in China.

In terms of contribution to total production value, direct shipping nickel ore and mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide accounted for 52.43 percent or P44.97 billion, followed by gold with 30.17 percent or P25.88 billion.

Copper, meanwhile, took a 16.63% share valued at P14.26 billion, while the remaining 0.77 percent or P0.66 billion came from the aggregate values of silver, chromite and iron ore.

Due to the continued decrease in nickel prices and lower demand for nickel ore by China, most of the Philippines’ nickel producers cut output tonnage, thereby resulting in the 38-percent fall in overall value to P32.13 billion from P51.58 billion.

Notwithstanding this, four new nickel producers entered the domestic production scene, namely:

Agata Mining Ventures, Inc. and Minimax Mineral Exploration Corp., operator and contractor, respectively of an Agusan del Norte mine covered by Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) 134-99-XII;

Wellex Mining Corp./Vista Buena Mining Corp., with a mine in Dinagat Island covered by MPSA 031-94-X; and

Libjo Mining Corp. and Westernshore Nickel Corp./East Coast Mineral Resources Co., Inc. for a Dinagat mine under MPSA 233-2007-XIII.

The new entrants accounted for 2,345,855 dry metric tons of nickel ore during the nine-month period, with an estimated value of P2.52 billion.

The red metal suffered in both production volume and value, with setbacks of 6 percent and 12 percent, respectively, from 263,359 dry metric tons worth P16.17 billion to 248,593 dry metrics tons worth P14.26 billion.

The stoppage of mining operations at the Lutopan mining area of Carmen Copper Corp. in Toledo City, Cebu starting March 2015 was also a major factor.

On a positive note, gold and silver both exhibited growth during the nine-month period.

The yellow metal enjoyed a 19 percent increase in volume, from 12,996 kilograms to 15,485 kilograms. Correspondingly, the white metal registered a 34-percent increase from 16,433 kilograms to 21,974 kilograms.

The major players for the growth were the Didipio Copper-Gold Project of Oceanagold Philippines, Inc., the Masbate Gold Project of Filminera Resources Inc. and the Maco Gold Operation of Apex Mining Co. Inc.

“It is noteworthy that even as economic slowdown continues around the globe, gold and silver remain as the preferred investment haven in times of economic uncertainty,” Jasareno said.

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