Australian companies welcomed the reopening of the Philippine mining sector, saying it will augur well for economic growth.
Ambassador to the Philippine Steven Robinson stressed that mining firms today use technology that offers sustainability and sound practices to protect mining areas from degradation, while extracting minerals that are beneficial to society.
“Every lifting of the ban is a really positive step forward for the Philippines. Because we think that the mining industry done responsibly, using the most modern equipment, the most modern techniques that subscribe to the world standards of mining, really benefit the Philippines,” he said in a virtual briefing organized by the Australian Embassy.
President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 130 on April 14 that effectively lifted a nine-year mining ban enforced by the previous administration.
EO 130 superseded a vital portion of the EO promulgated in 2012 by the Aquino Administration which put on hold the application for and the processing of new applications for mining contracts.
Data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau showed there were 291 pending mining applications that may soon join the sector once the processing of applications was restored. Employment in the sector was around 190,000 before the pandemic, the MGB said.
World miners flocked to the Philippines in the past because of its huge untapped potential. It hosts several Australian miners such as OceanaGold Philippines Inc., Orica Philippines Inc. and Red 5 Limited.
Robinson said the Philippines, a country rich in natural resources, could use its mining resources for the benefit of its people especially in this time of crisis where jobs are as precious as rare metals.
“There’s much that could be done here that would really benefit the Philippines recovery,” he said.
“I think that was a very positive step for the Philippines and good for Australian mining here in cooperation and partnership with the Philippines. So I’m very optimistic about what’s going to happen in the next couple of years about mining and Australian mining here in the Philippines,” he said.
Data showed that despite the pandemic which led other sectors to perform dismally last year, mining grew by 1.13 percent, buoyed by China’s massive demand for nickel and high price for gold.
The Philippines is considered fifth most mineralized country in the world, with the third largest deposits of gold, 4th for copper, 5th for nickel and 6th for chromite. The nation’s largely untapped mineral resource assets are valued at around Au$1.32 trillion.