Australia envoy lauds lifting of mining ban

Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - May 5, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Australian government has lauded the Philippines’ move to lift the nine-year ban on new mining projects, noting this would help in the latter’s recovery.

“We think the lifting of the ban is a really positive step forward for the Philippines because we think that what the mining industry has done responsibly – using firms that have the most modern equipment, most modern technique that subscribe to world standards of mining – will really benefit the Philippines,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson said in an online briefing.

“The Philippines is a natural resource rich country, and there is much that could be done here that would really benefit the Philippines’ recovery, and Australian firms know that,” he said.

Last month, President Duterte signed Executive Order 130 allowing the government to enter into new mining deals and to review existing mining contracts and agreements for possible negotiation of terms.

The new EO lifts the moratorium on mineral agreements imposed by former president Benigno Aquino III.

Robinson said Australian mining firms operating in the Philippines, including Orica and OceanaGold Corp., have touched base with the embassy and expressed interest in opportunities in the sector.

“They’re already thinking about what does the future hold for them as a result of that ban being lifted and they’ve started to reach out to us just in recent times to express interest in mining across the Philippines,” he said.

“So I think that was a very positive step for the Philippines and good for Australian mining here, and cooperation and partnership with the Philippines. So, I’m very optimistic with what’s going to happen in the next couple of years about mining and Australian mining here in the Philippines.”

In the same event, he said the Australian government is working with the Philippines on the latter’s request for greater market access for bananas and canned pineapples.

Earlier, the Department of Trade and Industry said the Philippines made a request for market access for its fresh Cavendish bananas to Australia.

In addition, the Philippines requested Australia to lift the anti-dumping measure on Philippine canned pineapples.

On bananas, Robinson said the two countries are working on exchanging information on various standards and processes.

“Australia, because of its quarantine standards has got some really tough standards that people have to meet. Now, it’s quite possible for the Philippines to meet all of that. And so, we’re working through how that happens,” he said.

He said there are also discussions on the request concerning canned pineapples.

“So, I am hopeful we’ll be able to continue to move all this forward as quickly as possible and get to the position where we both want to be, which is that all of this can happen between the Philippines and Australia,” he said.

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