Philippine Miners Optimistic Over $34 Billion Project Pipeline

  • Industry group comments amid new government’s mining audit
  • Sector open to revenue-sharing deal with Duterte government

The Philippines’ mining crackdown will separate good companies from bad ones and the industry is optimistic over prospects for $34 billion in projects to be developed in the next six years.

Most of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines’ 20-plus members meet international standards and comply with the country’s environmental regulations, Executive Vice President Nelia Halcon told a briefing in Manila on Monday.

In terms of the pipeline, “these projects have been approved and it’s only a matter of pushing their development,” Halcon said, referring to ventures that include the $5.9 billion Tampakan copper-gold project in South Cotabato province and Philex Mining Corp.’s $900 million Silangan project in Surigao del Norte. “We’re always hopeful,” she said.

New President Rodrigo Duterte has tasked Environment Secretary Gina Lopez with leading an audit of the nation’s mining industry for environmental compliance, and she has suspended at least eight nickel-ore miners that failed to meet standards. Lawmakers will also hear a proposal to ban raw mineral-ore exports as part of a broader plan to revamp the mining sector and retain more of the country’s mineral wealth domestically.

Lopez said in July that she won’t allow Tampakan to start operations, while earlier this month she said that the developers of the project must explain why its environmental permits shouldn’t be suspended for alleged violations. The project was due to start commercially in 2016, but was stalled when the local government banned open-pit mining.

The mining industry is open to discussing an increase in the government’s share of revenue from the sector, a deal which the previous administration of President Benigno Aquino failed to pursue, Philex Senior Vice President Mike Toledo told reporters after the briefing. The company will pass the mining audit, which it expects to be objective and fair, he said.

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