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Business

Mining industry gets much-needed boost

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

If there is any remaining doubt as to whether or not Filipinos are going to embrace electric vehicles or EVs, then San Miguel Corp.’s newest venture should be enough to dispel it.Mining industry gets much-needed boost

If there is any remaining doubt as to whether or not Filipinos are going to embrace electric vehicles or EVs, then San Miguel Corp.’s newest venture should be enough to dispel it.

Just recently, Dinagat Islands Gov. Nilo Demery Jr. confirmed that SMC is building an EV battery plant in the province at a cost of $500 million or around P28 billion. Construction of the facility is expected to begin this September.

According to reports, the plant to be built within SMC’s 25,000-hectare mining claim in the province will reportedly generate 10,000 jobs, not to mention increase the income of the province and uplift the lives of its people.

Any new business activity, especially those of this magnitude, has a huge multiplier effect on the economy.

Nickel, for instance, is a major component of batteries. And since SMC would need to source out battery components, the establishment of the battery plant would be a boon to the local mining industry, particularly those mining for nickel.

Everything seems to be going in the right direction for the mining industry in the Philippines.

There was of course the lifting by former president Rodrigo Duterte toward the end of last year the four-year ban on open pit mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores.

Mining companies shut down by former environment secretary Gina Lopez were also given a clean bill of health by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau. There are around 27 mining companies which are now allowed to operate, but four nickel miners in Zambales felt vindicated the most because of the immeasurable financial losses they suffered during the shutdown.

Each of them passed with flying colors the stringent mining audit done by the government. According to published reports, these mining companies, namely Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines, Eramen Minerals Inc., LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. and Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., received an aggregate score of 97.86 last year from 93.07 the previous year. They were assessed for safety and health, environment, and social development management performance. Their individual scores for 2021 were: BNMI (98.75), ZDMC (98.25), EMI (98.20) and LAMI (96.24).

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the mining industry is a potential source of sustained economic growth as he underscored the benefit of mobilizing investments for mine development.

He noted that the mining industry holds the greatest potential to be a key driver in the country’s economic recovery and long-term growth, especially now that world metal prices are high. The Philippines, after all, is one of the world’s most richly endowed countries in terms of mineral resources.

The industry lives in exciting times indeed. According to a report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA), global battery and minerals supply chains need to expand 10-fold to meet projected critical minerals needs by 2030. The IEA report said that the industry needs to build 50 new lithium mines, 60 more nickel mines and an additional seven cobalt mines by 2030 to meet global net carbon emissions goals.

Pressure on the supply of critical materials will continue to mount as road transport electrification expands to meet net-zero ambitions. According to the IEA, demand for electric vehicle batteries will increase from around 340 GWh today to over 3,500 GWh by 2030.

Anti-miners would always try to find ways to push back the industry’s development. But with the way modern mining rehabilitation is being done, mined out areas could be turned into something spectacular. And fears of environmental catastrophe could already be a thing of the past.

Who would have thought that a former limestone quarry in Ontario, Canada, which is today’s The Butchart Gardens, could become a National Historic Site of Canada? Remnants of the original cement plant and millions of bedding plants in over 900 varieties await tourists as they wander The Gardens.

As cement production exhausted the limestone deposits, Jennie Butchart envisioned a grand garden in its place and began transferring top soil by horse and cart. Between 1906 and 1929, the Butcharts expanded The Gardens, designing the Japanese Garden on the seaside, the Italian Garden on their former tennis court and the fragrant, overflowing Rose Garden.

We wouldn’t even go that far. In Malaysia, The Mines Resort & Golf Club was built upon the world’s largest open cast tin mine in 1993, uniquely transforming a barren wasteland once rich in precious minerals into a wonder that is a manifestation of aesthetic beauty and the splendor of nature.

Just recently, Diokno said that the mining industry could help ensure a sustainable recovery of the economy from the disruptions of the pandemic since this activity requires sizable investments while demand for mine output is high.

He emphasized that the mining industry holds the greatest potential to be a key driver in the country’s economic recovery and long-term growth, especially now that world metal prices are high.

Diokno also stressed that the government expects the mining industry to strictly adhere to responsible and sustainable mining practices, and that it should strike a balance between protecting the environment, uplifting local communities, and supporting the government’s socio-economic agenda.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines has welcomed the new government’s push for the mining industry.

COMP chairman Michael Toledo has said that it has always been their belief that responsible minerals development, when allowed to flourish, could substantially contribute to economic recovery, particularly in terms of increasing government revenue, job generation, and poverty alleviation that are most needed in this time of pandemic and beyond.

 

 

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