Stymied by policy woes, mining potential stalled

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    The development of the Tampakan copper mining project alone is valued at $2.5 billion with a potential of generating $850 million worth of exports per year.

    The lifting of the ban on open pit mining may unlock $1.8 billion in potential additional exports for the country and P12 billion in revenues for the government.

    Gerard Brimo, president of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), in his remarks at the 9th Arangkada Forum yesterday, these will come from three large metallic mining projects that have been affected by the ban: Kingking, Tampakan and Silangan.

    Brimo said all three are all located in remote areas in Mindanao which is in need of projects for development.

    The P12-billion national government revenue or taxes is about 50 percent of what miners pay at present. These projects will also generate revenue of P1.5 billion, double of what miners are paying now.

    “You can imagine the social development that can take place in these areas (if) these projects are allowed to go forward,” said Brimo.

    He said COMP is hopeful “something will come out” of the ongoing review by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and DOF (Department of Finance of this and other policy which he said have stymied the growth of the mining industry.

    The other policy under review is the moratorium on new mining permits until taxes are determined.

    “The DENR and the DOF are now looking at these policies as a way to revitalize economy, as we go through this pandemic,” Brimo said.

    Brimo also expressed optimism the government will soon lift the pending suspension orders on closed mines as the industry is among those least affected by the pandemic.

    He said so far, the pandemic only caused temporary closure of some large scale operations due to local government directives.

    Brimo said employment in the sector was largely unaffected.

    Mineral exports recorded a two percent decline to $2.416 billion as of the first half of the year from the previous $2.465 billion.

    “For such a highly mineralized country, the large scale metallic mining sector does not substantially contribute to the national economy. The industry has been stymied by policy problems, resulting in no new investments and therefore no growth,” Brimo added.

    He also cited a survey conducted by Fraser Institute in 2018 which ranked the Philippines in the bottom seven out of 91 jurisdictions in terms of mining policies and last in terms of investment attractiveness in Asia- Pacific. (I. Isip and J. Macapagal)