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PH posts record metal output

Philippine production of nickel and other metals soared to an all-time high despite the overall weakness in international prices and local resistance to mining projects.

Citing the entrance of new players, improved output in existing mines, and growing demand abroad, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said in a report that the country’s metallic production value grew to P137.53 billion in 2014 from P99.38 billion in 2013.

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That represents a 38-percent growth rate, equivalent to a P38.15-billion increase.

“The 2014 figure is an all-time high,” MGB director Leo Jasareno said via text message.

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The previous record high in metal output was P124 billion in 2011.

Nickel accounted for 58.05 percent or P79.84 billion of the total production value. This comprised both direct shipping ore and mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide shipments.

Gold production was a far second with 23.97 percent or P32.97 billion of total.

Copper followed with 16.55 percent or P22.76 billion.

Silver, chromite, and iron accounted for the remaining 1.42 percent or P1.96 billion.

It should be noted that nickel prices did not suffer as much as those of other metals in the international market last year. Gold, silver and copper all recorded negative price movements in 2014.

Direct shipping nickel ore and mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide have dominated the production scene for three years in a row, MGB noted in the report.

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“The upbeat performance of nickel was due to the entrance of new players, increased mine output and growing demand abroad,” the report said.

China, where infrastructure investment continues to grow, was the prime destination of the Philippines’ nickel ores, followed by Japan.

Mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide contributed about P20.31 billion in 2014.

This was the combined output of Coral Bay Nickel Corp. (CBNC) and Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. (THPAL), through their hydrometallurgical nickel processing plants using the high pressure acid leach (HPAL) technology.

HPAL uses sulphuric acid in high temperature and high pressure autoclave vessels to leach nickel and cobalt from low grade lateritic nickel ores.

All the limonite ores required by CBNC are supplied by Rio Tuba Nickel Corp. while the limonite ores for THPAL come from Taganito Mining Corp.

As for new industry players, MGB cited the Libjo nickel laterite mining project of Libjo Mining Corp. in Dinagat Island province with 10 years mine life and the Agata North nickel lateritic project of TVI Resources Development Inc. in Agusan del Norte with a mine life of 11 years.

“These new nickel mining projects are expected to boost the 2015 nickel production of the country, with the expected mine output of Libjo and Agata to be about 714,000 dry metric tons and 1,360,000 dry metric tons, respectively,” MGB said.

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TAGS: Business, metals, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Philippines, record output
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