Miners seek perks for processing plants
The government should provide assistance and incentives to encourage mining companies to establish more mineral processing plants in the country, a lawmaker said Tuesday.
“There is a groundswell of support in Congress for a measure to ban the export of raw ores as a means to compel miners to put up domestic processing plants,” Rep. Arnel Uy, chairman of the Natural Resources committee of the House of Representatives said.
“The value-add from these processing plants will contribute significantly to the economy in terms of additional taxes and employment generated,” he said during the Mining Philippines Conference held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila.
“However, we also recognize that a simple ore export ban will not work. We must also provide for the proper assistance and incentives to make investments in minerals processing more attractive and competitive, not just against others in the region, but most especially against China,” Ty added..
The Philippines is currently the world’s top supplier of nickel ore and one of the largest producers of copper and gold.
Chamber of Mines of the Philippines executive director Ronald Recidoro said the proposal to ban the export of raw ore and to put up more processing plants should be studied.
“I think everyone of us, the chamber included, ...want to see the country get more benefits from its minerals. If it means mineral processing domestically, then we are all for it. We are all Filipinos here. We want to see the country benefit from its minerals, if it means we need to process it locally, then so be it,” said Recidoro.
Recidoro noted, however, that banning the export of raw ore would simply not work.
“We need to study this. The easiest incentive to give would be a tax holiday but there should also be assistance to power cost and the cost of transporting ore from one island to another,” he said.
The mining official said the inter-island shipping rates in the country were very costly.
“Other than that, there should be improvement in the bureaucratic red tape because compared to Vietnam and other countries, securing a permit here is very slow. So we really need to study all the factors that will make processing feasible,” Recidoro said.
“It can proceed but we just have to make sure that we remove all obstacles to competitiveness and also look at new sources of minerals,” he added.
Recidoro said the Philippines should not follow the steps of Indonesia which earlier imposed a ban on the export of ore to force mining companies to put up more processing plants.
Indonesia earlier partially lifted the ban.
“If you noticed, Indonesia has partially rolled back its ore export ban because they saw that the experiment did not work. They banned the export of ore in 2014 and not enough processing plants were put up so a large volume of their production is currently stockpiled,” said Recidoro.
“There’s pressure on them that allows the export of ore but only those companies who have put up or trying to put up processing plants were allowed. It’s creating havoc within their economy and we don’t want that to happen to us so we need to study this very carefully,” Recidoro added.