Oil, natural gas make up for nickel plunge

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THE MINING and quarrying sector managed to record a modest growth last year. This, despite a decline in metallic mineral production value as the industry reeled from low global metal prices, mine suspensions and unfavorable weather.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the sector’s gross value added rose by 3.2% to P83.11 billion (in constant 2000 prices) in 2016, a reversal from the 1.5% contraction in 2015.

Nickel, the country’s top metal product with around a quarter share of the sector’s total output, plunged by 22.8% to P20.94 billion. The production of chromium also declined 2.9% to P46 million.

The increases seen in other subsectors, however, more than made up for the downtrend in nickel production.

Mining of crude oil, natural gas and condensate, with a 26.3% share of the sector’s output, grew 10.9% to P21.84 billion, followed by “other” nonmetallic ores — comprising one-fifth of the total — which increased production by a whopping 45.4% to P16.76 billion.


Gold mining was also in positive territory, with a 9% growth to P5.51 billion in 2016, albeit slower than the 12% increase that it posted in the previous year. Upticks were also observed in “other” metallic mining (11%), copper mining (6.4%), and stone quarrying, clay, and sandpits (4.3%).

According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the metal mineral production of the country’s 41 mines dropped by nearly a tenth in 2016 due to “[p]oor base metal price, a string of mine suspensions… and non-operation due to unfavorable conditions.”

During the year, world prices of gold and silver went up by 17% and 19% respectively while those of copper and nickel declined by 3% and 11%, respectively.

Furthermore, nickel direct shipping ore production volume and value went down by 23% and 41% to 24,652,913 dry metric tons worth P21.77 billion in 2016 from 32,076,948 dry metric tons worth P36.60 billion 2015.

Increases in gold and silver production, MGB noted, were not able to make up for declines in output of copper and nickel.

In its report, the agency likewise said that four of the country’s 28 nickel mines had voluntarily stopped operations while seven others were suspended way before the government environmental audit that began in July 2016. – Ranier Olson R. Reusora