Foreign mining firms eye Philippines
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign groups are closely looking at the Philippine mining industry as the government considers the sector as a major contributor to economic recovery.

In a virtual forum Wednesday, the Philippine Mining and Exploration Association (PMEA) said international and local firms are now revisiting their prospects as the mineral industry has not been severely affected by the coronavirus disease outbreak.

“We have a number of foreign companies looking at the Philippines right now. They believe that most companies have weathered the storm of COVID,” PMEA president Joey Ayson said.

While Ayson did not go into specifics, he said more investments in mining would help move the economy.

He said the market is just waiting for some policy changes to further attract foreign investments.

“Metal prices have gone up and what most companies are doing right now is that they are revisiting strategies in light of COVID,” Ayson said.

“We have the chance to walk the talk as mining is one of the industries that will provide revenues post-pandemic,” he said.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau director Wilfredo Moncano said the government continues to look for ways to help in the economic recovery, including supporting existing metallic and non-metallic mines.

“We are also targeting new approvals of MPSA (mineral production sharing agreement) provided there will be support to amend EO 79, as well as those suspended mines to resume operations,” Moncano said.

He said the MGB is looking at more Minahang Bayan approvals and the renewal of pending applications under the Office of the President.

Issued in 2010, Executive Order 79 put a moratorium on new mineral agreements pending a new fiscal regime for the industry.

Ayson said the government should particularly look at EO 79 and the existing ban on open pit mining.

“We just need a little bit more push right now, policies need to be revised and looked at,” he said.

Chamber of Mines of the Philippines executive director Ronald Recidoro echoed the same sentiment especially that a positive development is projected for the industry in the near term.

“We have trillions of pesos of resources underground. This is the last card of the government to help recover. We need to revive the industry and we need to do it right,” Recidoro said.

“And I think we are on the right track, the moratorium has been there for 10 years now and since then, the industry has been improving standards, transparency and environmental protection,” he said.

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