The Philippine Economic Zone Authority is set to sign an agreement with Philippine Mining Development Corp. to convert some 8,000 hectares mostly in Mount Diwalwal in Monkayo, Compostella Valley province into a mineral processing industrial zone.
Peza director-general Charito Plaza said a draft of the agreement was sent to the government-owned and control corporation for signing as soon as possible.
“We will sign the MOA and a usufruct agreement with PMDC. This means the all these mining areas under PMDC, which are mostly the Diwalwal area, will be declared mineral processing industrial zones,” Plaza said.
The Diwalwal gold mining area had been inactive since its development was halted by a tailings accident two decades ago. The site, however, was populated by illegal miners and settlers who were digging for gold.
“Once we bring a gold mine processing plant or a gold processing plant, to which many investors have expressed keen interest, we will be able to put a stop to the illegal extraction of our minerals and smuggling, especially of gold. We heard that most of our gold is being smuggled to Hong Kong and other countries,” Plaza said.
Peza is encouraging mining companies in the Philippines to upgrade operations by putting up mineral processing plants. Plaza said the mineral processing zones were expected to create more jobs and industries relevant to mining.
Peza aims to fast-track the signing of the agreement so the agency can officially launch by November the Philippine Economic Zone Map which will make it easier for investors to determine the most viable location for their investments.
The map will serve as a guide for the government to determine the suitable sites for the different types of economic zones. The Philippines currently hosts industrial, agro-industrial, manufacturing, agro-industrial, bio-fuel manufacturing, IT parks, export manufacturing, military and defense, island development, tourism and medical tourism zones.
Peza is also putting up at least two public economic zones per region or a total of 36 over the next five years. The additional economic zones will be on top of the four public economic zones located in Baguio, Cavite, Cebu and Pampanga.
There were 366 operating economic zones nationwide as of March 2017. Of the total, 74 were industrial and export processing zones, 250 IT parks and centers, 21 agro-industrial economic zones, 19 tourism economic zones and two medical tourism zones.
Private investors are also developing 29 new zones for industry and firm-specific requirements.