Philippines losing more mining investments due to policy stalemate
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - March 11, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is losing billions of dollars in potential mining investments because of policy stalemate hounding the industry, an independent think tank said.

Stratbase ADR Institute said the local mining industry has become stagnant over the past few years with orders banning new mining projects and the open pit method.

“Our ability to efficiently and sustainably harvest the country’s mineral wealth potential, estimated to be worth more than a trillion dollars, just sitting underground and basically untapped, has been mired in prolonged legal and regulatory challenges,” Stratbase president Dindo Manhit said.

A list of 11 pending projects is estimated to total to over $23 billion in capital investments, as of 2016.

“Passing a new mining revenue law now pending in the Senate will resolve the impasse caused by EO 79 and will result in substantial revenue gains needed for President Duterte’s vision for economic and infrastructure development,” Manhit said.

Executive Order 79 has yet to be lifted which means no new mining projects can start in the country. The moratorium should have been resolved with the passage of the tax reform in the industry which doubled the excise to four percent.

The Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship echoed the same sentiment, saying that aligning policies to responsibly develop the country’s resource potential while strictly enforcing existing environmental regulations to harness mineral resources should be a priority of the government.

“A hybrid and more balanced approach that imposes strict evaluation on the capacity and competence on mining companies to rehabilitate disturbed areas instead of an outright ban will minimize the inherent environmental impact of mining and maximize the long term benefits to the host communities,” PBEST convenor Carmelo Bayarcal said.

Chamber of Mines of the Philippines chairman Gerard Brimo said EO 79, which imposed a ban on new mining applications, and DAO 2017-10 made mining in the Philippines unattractive to investors.

Brimo identified three open pit projects that are now on hold due to the ban. These include the Tampakan Copper Project, King-king Copper Gold Project, and Silangan Copper and Gold Project which are all located in Mindanao.

These pending projects could bring the national government yearly revenues totalling P12 billion and a total of P1.5 billion for local government.

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