Mining sector recorded 1.13% growth in 2020
Despite disruptions in shipments and operations caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the metallic mining industry was able to remain resilient and posted a 1.13-percent growth last year, the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) reported.
The value of the industry’s metallic mineral production increased to P132.21 billion from P130.74 billion in 2019. The MGB said it was nickel that “steered the local mining industry to this upswing” as it continued to cater to China’s growing demand for stainless steel.
Next to Indonesia, the Philippines was the second-biggest supplier of nickel ore to China while China was the country’s top export market followed by Japan.
The nickel industry contributed 52 percent or P64.48 billion of the industry’s total earnings in 2020, followed by gold with P47.6 billion. The shared value of silver, chromite and iron amounted to P1.26 billion, or less than 1 percent of the entire tally.
The MGB noted that metal prices in 2020 were higher than their prepandemic levels due largely to the depreciation in the US dollar and lower interest rates.
This offset the decline in the country’s mineral production as quarantines and lockdowns hampered mining operations and disrupted the movement of people and supplies.
Moreover, care and maintenance programs as well as suspensions imposed by the government held back 11 mining projects from posting any production during the period.
The nonoperation of OceanaGold’s gold-copper project in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya province, in particular, hurt the country’s gold, silver and copper output.
Notable developments in 2020 included the entry of Tribal Mining Corp.’s Kematu gold-silver project in South Cotabato in its commercial phase and Johson Gold Mining Corp.’s return to the production scene.
Boon or bane
This year, the MGB said there were seven factors that could spell the boon or bane of the mineral sector—metal prices, the strength of the peso against the dollar, the duration and intensity of the ongoing pandemic, fuel prices, mining companies’ strategies in adapting to the new normal, and policy support from the government in terms of tax reforms, ease of doing business and foreign investments.
All told, the mineral sector was still able to rise above the challenges of the pandemic but would need government support to sustain its momentum.
“We are hoping that as the year progresses, new mining projects will enter the production stream and those mining operations that recorded zero production in 2020 will resume operations to inject the much-needed lift to the mining sector,” the MGB said.
“Given the pressing developments in the global and local scenes, the outlook for 2021 for the mineral industry remains uncertain as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a threat to lives and livelihoods,” it added.
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