THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it has received expressions of interest from potential investors seeking to set up ore processing facilities, which will allow the Philippines to capture more value from its mineral resources.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Mining Philippines International Conference and Exhibition, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said that the potential investors are from Japan, the US, and China, and could end up investing billions of dollars.

Asked when he expects the investments to materialize, Mr. Pascual said: “It is in the process, but investments like these which involve billions of dollars take some time.”

He added that building the processing plants will take time as well.

He expects the investments in ore processing to materialize within the term of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

The prospective investments are mostly to process nickel, which Mr. Pascual said will be in demand as the electric vehicle industry grows.

In his speech, Mr. Pascual said that the DTI will push for the development of the green metals industry by pushing for the growth of the downstream mineral segment.

Mr. Pascual also said that critical minerals agreements with the US are being discussed in the context of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

“Of course, IPEF has 14 members, so those with the minerals, are able to avail of whatever agreement we reach in the contexts of IPEF because the critical mineral agreement is related to the supply chain,” he said.

In a statement, the Board of Investments (BoI)  said that the Copper National Technical Working Group has committed to the continuous implementation of the Master Development Plan for the Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone (LEIZ), one of the investment promotion agency’s flagship projects.

“LEIZ is proposed to be the first ecological industrial zone that aims to promote the clustering of copper and copper-related industries, guided by the principles of the circular economy and ecological industrial parks,” the BoI said on Wednesday. — Justine Irish D. Tabile