Mineral exports down sharply in January-June
- Rocel Felix () - September 6, 2004 - 12:00am
Poor production in the second quarter pulled down the country’s mineral exports by 15 percent from January to June as gold and copper ore offshore shipments went down by more than 50 percent from their year-ago levels.

The National Statistics Office (NSO) reported recently that exports of gold, copper ores, chrome ores, nickel and other base metal ores and concentrates went down by $25.939 million to $146.356 million in the first semester of the year from $172.295 million during the same period last year.

Mineral accounts for less than one percent of the country’s total exports.

NSO data showed that shipments of gold from copper ores and copper nosedived 72 percent to $22.413 million as of end June this year from $81.345 million a year ago.

On the other hand, figures from the National Statistical Coordination Board showed that gold production also slowed down by 16.2 percent while copper output dived 16.1 percent in the second quarter.

Also, copper ores and concentrate exports shrank by $3.777 million or 53 percent to $3.343 million from $7.120 million.

In contrast, exports of chrome ores improved by a hefty 265 percent to $2.985 million from only $818,766 last year.

Export receipts from nickel and nickel ores and concentrates climbed 86 percent to $24.536 million from only $13.167 million.

Shipments of other minerals like base metal ores and concentrates improved by $23.235 million or 33 percent to $93.078 million from $69.844 million.

The local mining industry hopes that newly-appointed Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Michael Defensor will support efforts to revitalize the moribund mining industry.

"There is an urgent need to address the problems that impede the revival of the industry such as the tedious process of getting clearances and conflicts in laws affecting mining," the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CMP) said.

CMP earlier urged the creation of a National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to separate the environment functions of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from its developmental functions in natural resources.

Defensor said he will push for the implementation of the Minerals Action Plan (MAP) which seeks to restore the lost luster of the local mining industry.

"We will certainly be pursuing all means possible to revitalize the mining industry since this will mean more revenues and jobs," Defensor said.

Defensor said he will be meeting stakeholders in the mining sector to determine concrete steps to be taken in implementing and improving the MAP.

The most pressing concern facing the industry is the Jan 27, 2004 Supreme Court Decision that nullified the provisions of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 which allowed the direct participation of foreign-owned corporations in mining. This has created policy instability and uncertainties in an industry that relies heavily on foreign capital.

The DENR through the Office of the Solicitor General immediately filed a motion for reconsideration and issued a so-called "comfort letter" to allay the fears of investors. These measures are intended to create stability in the Industry.

The mining sector also suffers from instabilities in the policy environment, administrative processing bottlenecks and lack of support from some stakeholders which is a turn off for investors.

The MAP provides for clear and predictable protocols on environmental and ecological concerns and pursues the development of downstream industries and small- scale mining.

Even while the SC has yet to issue its ruling, there are already pending are applications for 22 large-scale metallic projects projected to yield $6.147 billion in foreign direct investments and 25 exploration projects worth $62 million.

CHAMBER OF MINES OF THE PHILIPPINES DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES SECRETARY MICHAEL DEFENSOR INDUSTRY MILLION MINERALS ACTION PLAN MINING NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY NATIONAL STATISTICAL COORDINATION BOARD ORES
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