Pascual urges equitable mining in PH

Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual invited investors to explore and manufacture the country’s mineral resources, but also equally emphasized the need to ensure that the benefits from this sector are shared equitably among investors, communities and shareholders.

“We will actively engage our mining companies, communities and stakeholders to ensure that the benefits of mining are shared equitably,” he said in a keynote speech during the Mining Philippines International Conference and Exhibition on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

“There are several opportunities in mining and mineral processing, not just an exploration of mineral resources and their extraction, but also green metals processing and other value added downstream mineral activities,” he added.

In particular, Pascual cited the abundance of mineral resources for the manufacture of copper, which plays a pivotal role in essential components of electric vehicles like wire harnesses for their strength.

Copper manufacturing, he said, would advance value added activities, and increase the country’s participation in the regional and global value chains of electric vehicles (EV), battery technologies and renewable energy equipment.

“The holistic approach demonstrates a genuine commitment to a more environmentally responsible and sustainable future for mining in our government also recognizes the importance of partnerships,” he said as he invited foreign investors present at the international mining forum.

“Our country boasts an abundance of natural resources that all from both economic development and sustainable progress. There is a tremendous opportunity to use extractive industries potential prepare to propel long term economic growth,” he said.

Pascual further cited the incentives available for preferred activities, which are listed in the Investment Priorities Plan of the Board of Investments of the DTI. Incentives include tax free importation of capital equipment, among others.

He then urged to use these metals wisely and responsibly for the generations to come. He expressed that through collaboration, the mining sector can be transformed into a strategic economic pillar and in the achievement of social development goals.

Pascual said the mining industry "continues to contribute significantly to the country's economy. As the source of our raw materials, it has been pivotal in our pursuit of sustainable growth and recovery" and that "there is a tremendous opportunity to use the extractive industry's potential to propel long-term economic growth."

He also reiterated that "the government consistently supports the revitalization of mineral development. Alongside this is the recognition of the industry's important role in the energy transition towards green technologies to address climate change."

As part of its commitment, DTI firmly pushes for the development of the green metal sector by advocating for value-added downstream mineral activities in the segment of battery precursor production used for  EV batteries and battery energy storage systems.

Pascual said DTI has launched different initiatives for the promotion and development of green metals, such as the Trade and Industry Development Talks for Green Metal Sector, which is anchored on the global transition to clean energy technologies, and the implementation of the masterplan for the Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone (LEIZ) which is a potential hub for mineral processing.

The Working Groups on Mineral Processing and Battery Manufacturing/Green Metals is led by the DTI and the Board of Investments (BOI), which aims to address concerns and issues crucial to developing and promoting the sector in order to develop a strategy that will draw mineral processors and battery manufacturers to our nation.

The DTI chief explained that exporting raw ores deprives the Philippines of potential jobs, technological advancements, and socio-economic benefits, allowing other nations to profit from the country’s natural endowments and sell them back to the Philippines at high profits, for years.

With this, he encouraged that “by establishing our own processing plants, we could create thousands of highly-skilled jobs, encourage technological innovation, and build competitive industries that could serve both domestic and international markets.”

With 2.1 billion metric tons of nickel, 6.9 billion metric tons of copper, and 260,000 metric tons of cobalt, Pascual said that the Philippines can offer foreign investors a golden opportunity to serve both regional and global markets, in a way that is not just profitable but profoundly impactful.

The World Bank Group has predicted that mineral production might expand by over five times or by 500 percent, or over three billion tons by 2050.

Similarly, the International Agency estimates that the total mineral demand for clean energy technologies will quadruple by 2040.

“In the face of such growing demand for minerals that we have, we must not overlook the added value that can be generated from these general resources right here in our country,” said Pascual, noting that the real wealth lies in value-added processes like refining, smelting, and manufacturing, upon mineral extraction.

Aside from mineral processing, he also underscored growth opportunities in the Philippines' electronics industry with a local supply of essential metals like gold, copper, and rare earth elements that can be used in value chain assembly and production of intricate components.

In addition, Pascual also mentioned the construction industry which drives economic growth for the country, where access to domestically produced materials like steel and copper could reduce costs, making infrastructure construction more affordable for the Philippines' growing population and economy.

"With our shared vision and collaborative spirit, I am optimistic that we can revolutionize mining into a strategic cornerstone for the Philippines' national economic and social objectives. Together, let's unearth the vast wealth beneath our soil to fuel economic growth, generate meaningful employment, and elevate the lives of our communities," he said. (Ma. Joselie C. Garcia)