MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Foreign mining firms to operate in Diwalwal

Published by MAC on 2006-11-24

Foreign mining firms to operate in Diwalwal

Sun Star Davao.

24th November 2006

STARTING next year, thousands of small-scale miners may be displaced due to the entry of foreign mining companies in the area.

In a report, at least 27 firms are said to have expressed interest in participating in next year's auction to operate in Mt. Diwalwal.

Artemio Disini, president of the Natural Resources and Mining Development Corporation, was quoted as saying that "about 40 to 50 percent of their Diwalwal project would be auctioned off to investors depending on the price."

It is expected that the competitive bidding would boost Philippine government efforts to attract around $6.5B in foreign investment.

Among the companies that reportedly expressed interest in the project were US-based Newmont Mining Corporation and Harmony Gold Mining Company Ltd, the world's second and fifth biggest gold producers.

Also, Sylvania Resources Limited and QNI -- both from Australia, Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd, and Philippine firm Philex Mining Corp were also said to be planning to bid for the project.

An investment of at least $70 million is said to be required from interested buyers.

The government is expected to narrow down the list of bidders in January before final bids are submitted on February 16.

The winning bidder, to be announced in March, would develop the Diwalwal project in Compostela Valley under a joint venture deal with the government.

Production at Diwalwal after a two-year development was earlier estimated at 1,000 metric tons per day and this could expand to 2,000 metric tons a day over its 15-year mine life.

The Arroyo administration claimed that the Philippines has around $1 trillion worth of unexplored copper, gold, and nickel.

The government is also planning to list the Diwalwal project at the stock exchange later to raise more funding and allow more Filipino investors into the project.

In a telephone interview, Mt. Diwata barangay captain Franco Tito said they will oppose any entry of foreign mining companies in their area.

Violent incidents in the past occurred whenever thousands of small-scale miners make their move to show to the government their opposition to some of its policies in Diwalwal.

"Diwalwal is now peaceful but if they will force entry in our area then there might be violence again. Many lives were lost because of Diwalwal. This number might be raised if they will force what they want," Tito warned. (BOT)

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