MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Growth For Revitalized Philippine Mining, But Far From Full Potential

Published by MAC on 2007-06-06
Source: Agence France Press

Growth for revitalized Philippine mining, but far from full potential

Agence France Press

6th June 2007

Revitalized mining activity in the Philippines is starting to impact on economic growth amid a surge of foreign capital, the top industry regulator said Tuesday.

Gross production value of the industry rose to P68.4 billion ($1.5 billion) last year, nearly double the calendar 2002 figure of P35.2 billion, Mines and Geosciences Bureau chief Horacio Ramos said.

It grew "almost 56 percent" in the three months to March 2007 amid continued high metal prices, he said without giving monetary figures.

He said mining activity has picked up in the last two and a half years following the Supreme Court's ruling that the 1995 Mining Act, which opened the sector to foreign investors, did not contradict a constitutional provision on equity ownership limits.

Manila expects fresh inflows of $348 million this year, with the cumulative total expected to reach $6.5 billion in 2011, Ramos told an Asia-Pacific mining conference in Manila.

With some two dozen flagship projects in various stages of production, development or exploration involving copper, gold, nickel, zinc, and chromite, mining contributed P14.8 billion, or 1.2 percent to the gross domestic product last year, he said.

Mineral exports reached $2.06 billion and the sector employed 141,000 people and paid out P3.1 billion in royalties and taxes, which "augur well for employment and the poverty reduction program" of the government.

However, he said the industry remains "relatively small compared to other mining countries" considering the Philippines' massive reserves potential for key minerals.

Should all the priority projects be pursued the value of the mineral output could reach $6 billion by 2010 and raise mining's share to total exports to around nine percent, "reflective of the country's mineral wealth," Ramos said.

He said the government is "both bullish and cautious" about 2008 industry prospects due to the possibility of an economic lift but also wary of the "challenges that come with increasing mining activity."

He acknowledged that the Philippines has been scoring poorly in Canada's Fraser Institute survey of global mining perceptions.

"The survey is significant because it gives us an idea of what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong as well as the areas we should focus on," Ramos said.

"The quality of the legal and fiscal regime defines a country's competitiveness," he added.

Agence France Presse

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