The country’s mineral production value posted a 36.2-percent growth in the first quarter to P48.61 billion from P35.69 billion in the same period last year, according to the latest report of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
“Once again the bullish metal price during the period pushed the industry to this optimistic performance, coupled with the increase in the mine production of gold, silver and copper,” the report read.
Among the prices of metal, nickel was at an unparalleled level at $28,089.77 per metric ton, up by more than 59 percent from $17,625.46 per MT a year ago.
Copper followed with an almost 18-percent growth to $9,986.01 per MT from $8,478.58 per MT year-on-year.
Gold price rose US$73 to $1,874.91 per troy ounce from $1,801.86 on year.
“We are seeing prices of metals at heights way beyond their pre-pandemic levels,” the MGB said.
It said gold or yellow metal contributed 45.7 percent or P22.24 billion to the total production value in the first quarter.
The collective values of direct shipping nickel ore along with nickel products, mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide and scandium oxalate followed, accounting for 39.6 percent or P19.27 billion.
Copper accounted for 12.98 percent or P6.31 billion, while the shared output value of silver, chromite and iron ore contributed 1.64 percent or P800 million.
Major mining hubs in the country include Caraga which hosts 23 operating mines, Regions III and VIII each with six mines; Cordillera Administrative Region with five; and Palawan province with 3 nickel mines and a hydrometallurgical processing plant.
The country has 32 nickel, 12 gold, 4 chromite, 4 iron and 3 copper mines, for a total of 55 large-scale mines.
Twenty mines reported zero production amid unfavorable weather conditions most particularly in Mindanao, while others were still under care and maintenance status or under suspension.
Among the producers, the Masbate Gold Project of Philippine Gold Processing & Refining Corp. the highest output with 1,859 kilograms with an estimated value ofP5.79 billion followed by the Didipio Copper-Gold Project of OceanaGold (Phils) Inc. with 917 kilograms with an estimated value of P2.84 billion.
The third was Co-O Gold Project of Philsaga Mining Corp. with 706 kilograms with an estimated value of PhP2.21 billion.
MGB said that in terms of the overall contribution to the production value, gold took the driver’s seat from nickel at P22.24 billion in the first quarter.
“For the rest of 2022 experts say that the demand for nickel will be fueled by the battery sector as battery producers and carmakers anticipate the transition to electric vehicles,” the report said.
The MGB said it was aiming for the sustained development of the minerals sector and planned a road map over the course of 18 years.