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Open-pit mining investment could have shored up weak FDI, think tank says

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PHILSTAR

AN independent think-tank said investment frozen by the open-pit mining ban could have sustained the Philippines through the recent drop in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), which fell 4.4% in 2018.

Stratbase Albert Del Rosario (ADR) Institute said that investment in underdeveloped mining sites in the Philippines could have driven economic and regional growth further if only allowed to operate.

“The Tampakan copper-gold deposit in South Cotabato is said to be one of the largest undeveloped deposits in the world, with 2.94 billion tonnes of ore with 0.6% copper content and some 18 million ounces of gold,” ADRI President Victor Andres C. Manhit said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Once developed, the mine has the potential to be a key driver of both national and regional growth, with an average yield of 375,000 tonnes per annum of copper and 36,000 ounces per annum of gold in concentrate over a 17-year period. A simple computation based on prevailing copper and gold prices translates to some P126.6 billion and P24.2 billion in annual potential, respectively,” Mr. Manhit added.

Mr. Manhit noted during the Roundtable Discussion on Open Pit Mining Ban organized with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship (PBEST) that 11 pending mining projects in 2016 proposed to invest $23 billion while 2018 FDI amounted to 9.8 billion.

Mr. Manhit said in the statement that the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) failed to reach a consensus on whether to lift the Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2017-10 which imposed a ban on open pit mining.




“Other pending multi-billion dollar investments include 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. From a 2016 list of only 11 pending mining projects, the total capital investments is already at $23 billion. Note that according to data from the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, our total Foreign Direct Investments in 2017 was (under) $10 billion,” Mr. Manhit said.

“Bear in mind that these figures, staggering as they are, are just quick estimates of the direct value of mineral resources. They don’t even include the multiplier effect that they bring to the national and local economies in terms of taxes, infrastructure development, employment, and linked industries. Taken together, they can certainly make a serious dent in the government’s poverty alleviation agenda.” — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio

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