The value of Philippine mineral production grew 4.3 percent in the first half from a year ago on higher metal prices, despite the restriction on production and exploration imposed by former Environment secretary Regina Lopez.
Data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau showed that mineral production value in January to June reached P50.81 billion, up from P48.73 billion in the same period last year.
“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,” the MGB said.
Gold production reached P25.89 billion and accounted for almost half of the total mineral production value in the first six months.
Nickel direct shipping ore and mixed sulfides took the second spot with 36.32 percent or P18.45 billion, followed by copper with P8.96 billion. The remaining P510 million was shared by silver and chromite.
Masbate Gold Project of Filminera Mining Corp./Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corp. in Bicol Region and OceanaGold Philippines Inc. in Nueva Vizcaya province were the country’s major gold producers.
“With the exception of mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide, all the rest of the metallic minerals exhibited lower mine output year-on-year,” the MGB said.
Mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide output rose 24 percent from 37,604 dry metric tons to 46,444 dry metric tons.
Chromite posted the largest decline of 42 percent, from 11,683 dry metric tons in the first half of 2016 to only 6,778 dry metric tons in the first half of 2017. Techiron Resources Inc. located in Eastern Samar was the lone chromite producer this year.
Nickel direct shipping ore, on the other hand, suffered a 24-percent setback, from 11.38 million dry metric tons to 8.64 million dry metric tons.
The MGB said the lackluster performance of nickel direct shipping ore was due to the suspension of mining operations following the sanctions imposed due to environment-related issues and concerns; zero production due to maintenance/care status by a number of nickel mines; and unfavorable weather condition during the period.
Eleven mining projects reported no production during the review period. Gold and silver also reported a decrease of 5 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
Similarly, copper production was sluggish with all the country’s three copper mines reporting production cutback. Total production went down from 44,813 metric tons to 33,687 metric tons year-on-year, or down by 24.83 percent.
“ The upside during the period, despite the listless mine output of the metals with the exemption of MNCS, was the more favorable metal prices year-on-year,” the MGB said.
The average price of copper grew 21.32 percent, from $2.58 per pound to $2.13 per pound.
Nickel ore price went up from $4.39 per pound to $3.92 per pound, while gold and silver prices also climbed 1.69 percent and 9.91 percent, respectively.