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This thread is resolved. Here is a description of the problem and solution.
Problem:Where is WPML taking this PHP info from?
Solution:there are 2 concepts, the maximum memory that PHP allows (in php.ini) and the maximum memory that WP will use (ie: 40mb by default in the frontend for single sites)
if memory_limit in php.ini is set to -1 it means there is no limit on the PHP side
so one is taken by ini_get('memory_limit') and the other one from the WP_MAX_MEMORY_LIMIT