Metallic minerals output slightly up in 2020

Published February 23, 2021, 3:34 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The country’s metallic mineral production slightly increased by value last year as prices remained higher than their pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) showed.

The total metallic mineral output in January to December last year rose by 1.13 percent by value to P132.21 billion from P130.74 billion in the previous year, the MGB reported on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

“In 2020, metal prices, remain to be the silver lining amid the COVID-19 pandemic for the minerals sector. For metals, we saw that prices were higher than their pre-pandemic levels,” MGB said in a statement,

Based on the MGB report, nickel ore together with its by-products, such as mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide and scandium oxalate, accounted for half of the total metal output last year with P68.48 billion.

Gold earned the second spot with P47.60 billion, copper was third accounting P14.88 billion. The shared value of silver, chromite, and iron, meanwhile, amounted to P1.26 billion.

“Primarily it was direct shipping nickel ore that steered the local mining industry to this upswing,” MGB noted.

Production volume and value of nickel went up by four percent and 21 percent, respectively from 323,325 metric tons valued at P31.65 billion to 333,962 metric tons valued at P38.39 billion year-on-year.  

Of the 30 nickel mines, the key producers were Taganito Mining Corpo., Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. and  Platinum Group Metals Corp.

MGB said 37 percent or eleven nickel mining projects, however, reported zero production of which eight were located in Dinagat Island, and one each from Isabela, Zambales, and Davao Oriental.  

“The zero production was attributed to care and maintenance program and suspension by the government,” MGB said.

China, meanwhile, was still the country’s top export market for its nickel ore followed by Japan.

For 2021, MGB said its outlook for the sector remains uncertain as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a threat to lives and livelihoods.

“Operations in mining continue but were hampered when quarantines/lockdowns were imposed due to new COVID-19 positive cases in the area,” MGB said.

“When this happens the companies have no recourse but to reduce total man-hours and manpower or worst impose lockdowns to comply with the health protocol set by the local and national government,” it added.

Also seen to affect the performance of the local minerals sector this year, MGB said is the continued non-production of a number of mining operations due to environmental related issues or mine imposed non-operations due to unfavorable weather conditions.