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Business

Legislation needed to push for ore processing plants

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has called for  appropriate legislation to compel mining companies to put up ore processing plants which could boost the value of the mining industry.

In a virtual forum, MGB director Wilfredo Moncano said the agency has had discussions on value-adding for the mining industry through the establishment of ore processing plants.

“Since the time that I assumed office as director, we have been talking about how the country would proceed from direct ore shipments to [the] establishment of a processing plant,” Moncano said.

“We have realized that it will need legislation to force investors or mining companies to put up processing plants. A department administrative order would not be enough, it would require legislation, “he said.

Moncano cited the need for the gradual reduction in the shipment of direct shipping ore, and instead pursued the processing of ore to be able to generate more value for the local mining industry.

He said at present, 90 percent of the country’s shipping ore is exported without processing.

Moncano shared that there is a pending bill, which pushes for the MGB’s proposal for a gradual reduction in direct shipping ore.

In July last year, Rep. Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles filed House Bill 9775, or the proposed Promotion of Mineral Processing and Value-Adding Act, which aims to gradually restrict the direct shipping of nickel laterite ores, magnetite sands or iron concentrates and other raw metallic ores.

The bill not only seeks to increase the mining industry’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) but also employment.

Preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the mining sector had a 0.49 percent contribution to the country’s GDP in the three quarters of 2021 at P65.7 billion.

This is lower than the 0.65 percent GDP contribution in the same period in the previous year at P89.4 billion.

Apart from the enactment of a law, Moncano cited the need for investments in the establishment of processing plants.

He said that since it is expensive to put up these processing plants, the capacity of local investors to fund it is also another challenge.

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