Q1 metal output rises 7% to P23.7B


Despite weak metal prices in the world market, the value of the Philippines’ metallic mineral production rose 7.2 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier on the back of higher nickel shipments

According to the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB), the country’s metal sales rose to P23.72 billion in January-March 2015 from P22.14 billion a year ago even as metal prices softened on the world market.

MGB noted that the prices of gold, silver, copper and nickel all weakened from their year-earlier levels and even base metal prices were sluggish due to weak demand from China and increase supply in the market.

Direct-shipping nickel ore and mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide comprised bulk of the output during the period, accounting for a combined 42.46 percent or P10 billion, up 29 percent from P7.83 billion in the first quarter of 2014.

Gold, which accounted for 36.12 percent of the output, contributed P8.57 billion; while copper sales amounted to P4.89 billion or 20.6 percent of the total output in the first quarter.

The combined output value of silver, chromite and iron ore was 0.81 percent or P190 million.

Mining projects that posted the highest nickel ore output were Rio Tuba Nickel Project of Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. in Palawan with 693,585 dry metric tons (DMT); Claver Nickel Project of Taganito Mining Corp. in Surigao del Norte with 515,033 DMT; Tubay Nickel-Cobalt Project of SR Metals, Inc. in Agusan del Norte with 434,158 DMT; and Toronto-Pulot Nickel Projects of Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. in Palawan with 413,147 DMT.

MGB Director Leo Jasareno said that the mine output of direct-shipping nickel ore is expected to improve further this year with the temporary lifting of the suspension order for the nickel mining operations of three Zambales mining contractors.

These three are LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc., Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines, Inc. and Eramen Mineral, Inc.

Jasareno said the three contractors incurred production setbacks in 2014 following the suspension orders issued by MGB due to environmental issues.

Meanwhile, the export of direct-shipping nickel ore to China rose to 26.41 million DMT
from 22.27 million DMT after Indonesia imposed a raw ore export ban in January 2014.

Gold output is also expected to increase with the re-entry of Siana Gold Project of Greenstone Resources Corp. in Surigao del Norte to the production stream early this year.

It can be recalled that the project reported zero production in 2014 after it was issued a cease and desist order (CDO) on June 6, 2013 due to a tension crack found on the embankment of its tailings storage facility (TSF) No. 4. The said CDO was lifted on December 18, 2014 after the rehabilitation of its TSF Nos. 3 and 4.

In the first quarter of this year, the company produced 363 kilograms of gold with estimated value of P623 million and 322 kilograms of silver with estimated value of P7.64 million.


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