Metallic minerals output down 11%
The value of metallic minerals produced in Philippine mines fell by 11 percent year-on-year to about P75.9 billion in the nine months to September of 2016 from P85.5 billion a year ago, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
January to September output value also showed a decline for the second year in a row. In 2014, the value of nine-month output was pegged at P102.5 billion.
The MGB said in its quarterly report the “anemic” performance was due to the shuttering of seven nickel mines operated by six companies in Palawan and Zambales, as well as depressed prices of nickel and copper.
The agency was referring to the project run by Zambales Diversified Metals Corp.; BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc.; Eramen Minerals Inc.; and LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc.—all in Sta. Cruz town in Zambales.
Also suspended amid a clampdown led by Environment Secretary Regina Lopez were the projects of Berong Nickel Corp. in Quezon town as well as the projects of Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. in Sofronio Espanola and Narra towns—all in Palawan.
“Individual performance of the nickel mines was significantly affected by the sluggish price of nickel in the international market,” the MGB added.
“In September 2016 alone, we saw nickel price nosedive to $2.67 per pound, the lowest price to be recorded since 2002,” MGB said.
MGB monitoring further showed that the price of nickel went down by as much as 30 percent over a nine-month period from $3.84 per pound last January to $2.67 per pound in September.
As for copper, the nine-month average price dropped 20 percent from $2.57 a pound to $2.04 a pound.
From January to September, nickel miners shipped out P17.3 billion worth of ore (down 44 percent year-on-year) and P10.9 billion worth of mixed nickel sulfides (down 19 percent). Nickel production accounted for 37 percent of total output value for the period.
Precious metals continued to outperform the base metals, with gold output jumping by 30 percent in value to P33.6 billion, and 13 percent in volume to reach 17,555 kilograms. The yellow metal represented 44 percent of total output value.
During the nine months, the average price of gold rose by 6.5 percent or $76 per ounce to reach $1,256.70.
Further, copper production represented 18 percent of total, decreasing in value by 7 percent to post P13.3 billion.
The remaining 1 percent or P840 million of mine output are in the form of silver, zinc, iron ore and chromite.
According to the MGB, the main contributors during the period were Didipio copper-gold project (OceanaGold Philippines Inc.), P10.94 billion; Masbate gold project (Philippines Gold Processing and Refining Corp.), P9.44 billion); and Toledo copper operations (Carmen Copper Corp.), P8.21 billion.
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