With an impressive repertoire of projects, TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. puts the country’s mining sector on the map. Chairman, Clifford M. James, tells us more.
EXPANDING A DIVERSE PORTFOLIO
In 2022, the Marcos Government in the Philippines announced plans to greatly develop the country’s mining industry, as part of a nationwide initiative to grow the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) is taking advantage of the current revitalisation, as the national mining sector is placed under a new spotlight.
As no stranger to great success, the company has been a trailblazer in the Philippines’ mining industry on numerous occasions. Namely, TVIRD was the first foreign invested Filipino entity to be licensed under the Mining Act of 1995. Similarly, it was the earliest company to reach production stage on its maiden project, conclude operations, and commence final rehabilitation under the same law, as the Canatuan mine completed its initial gold and silver production in 2007 and subsequent copper and zinc processing operations in 2014.
AN EXPANSIVE PORTFOLIO
Following the success of its initial undertaking, the company has evolved in leaps and bounds, bringing three mining projects to operations in a period of just 10 years. And so goes the origin story of TVIRD.
After the exploration and development in Canatuan, TVIRD diligently commenced its gold and silver operations in the Province of Zamboanga del Norte on the Philippine Island of Mindanao in 2004. Subsequently, copper and zinc processing were carried out on the same project four years later, which elevated TVIRD to become a leading mining entity.
Succeeding the conclusion of the Canatuan project in 2014, TVIRD initiated the Agata Nickel Laterite Project (Agata) on the Eastern side of Mindanao in the Province of Agusan del Norte, thus capping its first full decade of operations.
“This was the company’s first foray into nickel, which established TVIRD as a steady supplier of raw material for the world’s largest stainless steel producers,” opens TVIRD’s Chairman, Clifford M. James. “Agata has also contributed significantly to the Philippines’ leadership in raw nickel exports in the past decade,” he continues proudly.
These exports come in the form of nickel direct shipping ore (DSO), which are sourced from Agata in two varieties. The first is limonite, which holds a lower nickel content and approximately 46 to 49 percent iron. This is supplied as raw material to low-grade nickel pig iron (NPI) factories and used as a blending material by carbon steel plants. Agata DSO also exists in the form of saprolite, which contains 1.2-1.5 percent nickel and is supplied to medium-grade NPI factories. Consequently, mining for nickel contributes to the production of stainless steel as a highly sought after material.
The company’s fourth project oversaw two operations the Balabag Gold and Silver Mine, which currently produces doré bars that contain on average five percent gold and 95 percent silver. These are then exported to direct markets in the form of refineries, spanning Asia, Oceania, and Europe.
Moreover, TVIRD has recently shown its acquisitional strength, as the company obtained the Siana Gold Project (Siana) from Red 5 Limited in Australia. Although the project’s initial production of gold doré – following its soft launch earlier this year – is being sent to the Central Bank of the Philippines, it is targeted to hit commercial operations by early next year, whereby it will be exporting primarily to direct markets in the region.
The expansive project is expected to produce approximately 140,000 ounces (oz) of gold across its three-year open pit stage. Subsequently, an even higher volume is expected for the succeeding nine-year underground stage.
The company eagerly anticipates Siana’s forthcoming commercial operations. “Siana will be a game-changer in the Surigao mining region. Its state of the art Outotec mill facility was commissioned at a capital cost of $54 million and can process 1.1 million tonnes of ore per year. This makes Siana a technology leader and presents the opportunity of becoming a processing hub in the future,” James tells us.
MAINTAINING A BALANCE
As Chairman, James firmly believes that “gold is never boring, to say the least.” This is most aptly demonstrated by the commissioning of the Balabag Gold mine in 2021, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when gold prices were on the lower side. This year, however, the company has experienced prices upward of $2,000 per troy oz, a great step away from the 2021 prices.
Evidently, TVIRD’s operations weather spikes and dips that inversely correlate to the movement of the US dollar and global market, but this is a challenge that the company has become an expert at managing.
“Over the years, TVIRD has learned to maintain the critical balance of running efficient operations on the ground whilst navigating the movements of major global commodities like gold,” affirms James.
To add to this, TVIRD consistently plans for the diversification of the metals it produces.
“Copper has always been a significant component in our growth story and will be for some time. Nickel, with its associated iron, has also been a major section of our growth. Thus, both copper and nickel have been good commodity balances for the gold and silver we have produced,” he comments.
TVIRD is additionally proud to say that its founding Canatuan site is five times ‘greener’ in terms of forest density than before it initiated the project. For example, more than 400,000 trees were planted during its operations while another 140,000 cash crop plants are presently being planted as part of its final rehabilitation. Most significantly, due to TVIRD’s environmental initiative, the potential for carbon sequestration after rehabilitation will be nearly 10 times greater than pre-mining conditions.
“Environmental responsibility runs deep in the TVIRD Group. This level of commitment is underscored by the company’s progressive rehabilitation activities during the operation stage, which are aligned to the final rehabilitation plan, final land use, and livelihood programme for the communities in preparation for the end of mine life.”
This is highlighted by the three Presidential Mineral Industry Environment Awards presented to TVIRD’s Agata project, as well as an ASEAN Mineral Award, marking the company’s first international recognition.
A HELPING HAND
Over the years, TVIRD has provided invaluable support to the communities in which its mines are situated. In the case of Canatuan, TVIRD is honoured to have supported 10 schools with a capacity of 4,000 students at the height of the mine’s operation. Similarly, the company maintained a road network of 140 kilometres (km) that linked together many nearby municipalities with the rest of the Zamboanga Peninsula, efficiently mobilising people and much-needed goods.
“You could say that we have been like a surrogate government agency that helps augment social services and infrastructure for the local communities,” James explains.
The Agata project likewise has a strong influence on local community programmes, most notably the Community Royalty Development Plan – a common roadmap for progress that it shares with the Indigenous Mamanwa Tribe. Its main rehabilitation focus is geared toward transforming the mine into an eco-tourism and agroforestry hub for future generations.
“We provide a sustainable livelihood for the communities that will effectively transition the local economy from mining back to agriculture,” he states.
TVIRD has much to look forward to as it forecasts substantial growth in the upcoming year. Whilst the highly successful Agata mine is on its final leg, its nickel operations remain as active as ever. Moreover, its two operating gold mines in Zambaonga and Surigao are quickly progressing and gearing-up for higher production rates. This rests on a consistent undercurrent of further exploration potential in the immediate periphery of both the Balabag and Siana mine sites.
There will also be greater advancements in the Pan de Acuzar and Mabilo copper-gold projects, as its pyrite asset will be essential to the world of steel and nickel-metal hybrid (Ni) battery value chains while copper will be essential to the global energy transition.
Ultimately, through its vast multitude of projects, TVIRD is going above and beyond in becoming an industry leader for Philippine mining, as its tenacity for acquisition and production growth is unmatched by competitors in the sector.