Economy


Policy on downstream mining industries due by year’s end




Posted on October 20, 2016


AN OFFICIAL recommendation on the feasibility of setting up downstream ore processing facilities in the Philippines will be drawn up by the end of the year, according to the chief of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

An official recommendation on the feasibility of setting up downstream ore processing facilities in the Philippines will be drawn up by the end of the year. -- BW FILE PHOTO
“We have held initial meetings... before the end of the year, we promise to have a recommendation on how we should proceed,” said MGB Concurrent Director Mario Luis J. Jacinto, speaking to reporters.

The MGB is consulting industry stakeholders and other agencies to consider the country’s sustainable level of ore volume and its competitiveness in the context of ASEAN integration.

Mr. Jacinto, who is also an undersecretary of the Environment department, noted that local processing of ore adds value to the Philippine mining industry’s output. “The question is what are the requirements to put it in place,” he added.

One of the agencies involved in the drafting of the recommendation is the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The DTI, which is also preparing the six-year Philippine Development Plan, has completed the road map for copper and is in the process of completing road maps for gold and nickel as well as a long-term plan for iron.

Earlier, House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez said that a bill requiring mining firms to process or semi-process their ores before these commodities can be exported will be a priority for the government.

Sen. Paolo Benigno A. Aquino filed a bill seeking to halt the export of unprocessed mineral ores, as a way to attract more investment and generate more income for the extractive industries.

Indonesia, which accounts for about 15% of global ore supply, imposed a ban on its ore exports in 2014. Top nickel importer China turned to the Philippines to meet its demand.

The MGB reported that during the first half of 2016, the total value of metal mine production fell 13.59% year-on-year to P48.25 billion due to the suspension of some mining operations and sluggish metal prices.

So far, the Environment Department has suspended 10 metal mines and recommended 20 others for suspension after a nationwide audit that aimed to weed out miners with poor environmental management practices.

The suspended mines made up 55.5% of the country’s total nickel output last year. -- Janina C. Lim