Mineral resources for sustainable and inclusive prosperity

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“The mining sector can now begin to develop a critical mass of responsible operations. “

Throughout history, thriving mining industries around the world have played a vital role in generating revenue for the government. They support local industries, create quality jobs and build progressive communities in the most remote and underdeveloped regions. As for the Philippines, its rich mineral endowment is a valuable national asset that remains an underdeveloped cross-sectoral engine that could have cushioned the impact of the economic damage caused by the pandemic.

This political impasse was finally remedied with the lifting of the moratorium on new mining permits and the ban on surface mining. These were two misguided policies that halted what could have been a wave of multibillion-dollar investments that would now be thriving centers of growth even with the ongoing pandemic.

Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources DENR Administrative order (DAO) 2021-40 signed (December 29, 2021) by the secretary of DENR Roy Cimatu underlined that “the open-pit mining method is a worldwide mining method. accepted, considered the most feasible option for mining shallow or shallow ore deposits. A scientific fact that has been somewhat overpowered by the tough environmental stance of former Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez and his advisers.

According to the DAO, the rectification policy aims to: “Revitalize the mining industry and bring significant economic benefits to the country by providing raw materials for construction and development of other industries and increasing employment opportunities in the areas. rural areas where there are mining activities. stimulate the development of the countryside.

Now, the Philippine mining industry can restart and hopefully maintain a momentum of accelerated expansion to catch up with economies that have made the most of their mineral wealth such as Australia, Indonesia and the countries of the United States. South America. Becoming a new power in this trillion dollar global mineral ecosystem fits perfectly with our urgent need to recover towards inclusive economic growth, infrastructure development and poverty reduction.

The Philippine mining sector has shown itself to be resilient to the current economic downturn and has experienced increases in the value of its output. According to data from the Bureau of Mines and Geosciences (MGB), the production value of metallic minerals in the country managed to gain 22.34% from 99.03 billion pesos the previous year. This illustrates the enormous loss of opportunity during those years when these two political walls halted what could have represented a few billion dollars of investment in new large-scale mining projects.

In a 2016 list of just 11 pending mining projects, the total capital investment valued at that time was already US $ 23 billion. This is more than double compared to 2017 data from the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce which reported a total foreign direct investment of just US $ 10 billion.

To further illustrate, the US $ 5.9 billion project at the Tampakan copper-gold deposit in southern Cotabato, reputed to be one of the largest undeveloped deposits in the world with 2.94 billion tonnes of copper and gold ore, has reportedly already benefited not only its host communities but also areas adjacent to Mindanao and the national government. With a projected average yield of 375,000 tonnes per year of copper and 36,000 ounces per year of gold concentrate over a 17-year period, a simple calculation based on recent copper and gold prices results in approximately 1.25 billion pesos and 3.2 billion pesos in annual potential respectively.

Philex Mining’s Silangan project in Surigao del Norte, with estimated mineable reserves (2019) of 917.67 million pounds of copper and 2.995 million ounces of gold, is valued respectively at around 205.9 billion pula and 274 billion pula. The $ 2.5 billion Mindoro Nickel project has reserves estimated at some 2.9 million tonnes or 6.6 billion pounds of nickel.

Other multi-billion dollar investments that hopefully are set to restart are: Nadecor’s Kingking project in Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental’s Asiaticus project, Lepanto Mining’s FSE project in Benguet and Masbate’s Philsaga Mining contract. , among others.

These impressive numbers of legitimate large-scale mining companies under the Philippine Chamber of Mines (CoMP) do not take into account the multiplier effects that would greatly benefit the national and local economy in terms of taxes, infrastructure development, employment and related industries. necessary to support each project. Even if all of these projects were fully operational, we would only scratch the surface of the country’s vast mineral wealth with a footprint less than 1% of the country’s total land mass.

With the demolition of these political walls, the mining sector can now begin to develop a critical mass of responsible mining operations that will simultaneously lead to the long-term development of millions of families in remote countryside and at no cost to the government. While the CoMP has successfully carried out science-based advocacy to reverse these bad policies, there are high expectations that its members will lead a renaissance of the mining development industry and that the Philippine mining sector and its allied industries will be a leading force in harnessing our mineral resources for sustainable and inclusive prosperity.


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