Philippines may ban unprocessed mineral exports
The Dollar Business Bureau
Philippines is considering imposing a ban on unprocessed mineral exports in an effort to encourage value addition to the mining sector, a senior government official said.
Philippines is the topmost nickel ore exporter in the world, supplying almost all of its production to China. The previous governments had supported the calls to promote domestic processing of minerals but their efforts were unsuccessful as the Congress was unable to enact appropriate laws.
“It’s one of the things we’re considering for any mine that we think should remain operating. In the long term, that will help our economy because that will increase the value of the products,” Maria Paz Luna, Undersecretary, Environment and Natural Resources told reporters on Friday. “This is one of the choices that not only should be taken into consideration by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) but also by the entire government,” she added.
The Undersecretary was talking to reporters after a discussion with other officials of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council of the government, which was entrusted with the task of conducting a second assessment of 28 mines that were ordered shut or were suspended by the Ministry of Environment.
Carlos Dominguez, the Finance Secretary told the reporters that the three-month review which was announced in February is likely to continue even if the appointment of the Environment Secretary who ordered the closure of the mines is yet to be confirmed by the Congress.
Environment Secretary Gina Lopez had called for a closure of these mines following an audit, as the entire mining industry failed to meet the safety and compliance standards. Lopez backs her decision that mining has failed to uplift the lives of the poor in the mining community and had unveiled a P3.9 billion plan to rehabilitate the mining sites and convert them into eco-friendly tourist zones.
Philippines became the world’s top exporter of nickel ore after Indonesia banned the exports of unprocessed ore in 2014. It has four mineral processing plants, two for gold and two for nickel.