MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines Goes Quiet On Promotion Of Mining

Published by MAC on 2006-09-11
Source: Reuters

Philippines goes quiet on promotion of mining

By Dolly Aglay, Reuters -

11th September 2006

MANILA (Reuters) - Mining executives from Africa are visiting the Philippines this week to see how much of its vaunted $1 trillion worth of unexplored mineral wealth is on offer.

But instead of trumpeting this, the Philippines is keeping the details quiet for fear lest green groups picket the venue of the conference and the mine visits.

"I think it's unfortunate that the government should think this way," Peter Wallace, president of private think-tank Wallace Business Forum, said.

"What they should be doing is actively inform the public of the tremendous benefits of mining."

Manila, however, seems to be wavering in its policy of mining promotion.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines postponed a mining conference scheduled on October 3-5 this year to 2007 because of "a seeming policy shift from active promotion of the previous two years to one of cautious re-consideration of policy reforms."

"This has led to stymied investment inflows affecting the country's competitiveness as a mining destination, and wait-and-see attitude once again from our foreign investors," the chamber said in a letter to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

Wallace said he was disappointed to hear about the postponement of the conference.

"We have a potential to uplift the Philippine people out of poverty, yet short-sighted people seem determined to prevent this from happening," Wallace said, referring to anti-mining groups.

"I wonder what they are going to offer as an alternative."

Welcome Mat

The Arroyo government laid out a welcome mat to foreign firms in February 2005, telling them at an international conference in Manila that it had shifted its policy to promotion from tolerance.

Two months earlier, the Supreme Court upheld the legality of a 1995 law allowing foreign firms to own 100 percent in local mining projects from 40 percent.

The change in Manila's policy prompted foreign firms to take a second look at one of the world's highly mineralized but least explored countries in the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area dotted with volcanoes and vulnerable to earthquakes.

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