At the 3-day conference, three local mining companies namely the Filmenera Gold Mining in Masbate; Rapu-Rapu Minerals Inc (RRMI) and the Goodfound Cement Corp both in Albay, shared to the participants their mining operation experiences and concerns.
Artemio Disini, COMP chairperson, said the mining industry can possibly have a big contribution to the Philippine economy in the coming years as many investors, including foreign corporations, wish to enter and operate in the country or expand their mining operations.
He however said that the expansion of the mining industry is being stalled due to strong opposition by the group Alyansang Tigil Mina, together with the leaders of the Catholic Church, that are campaigning to the stop the spread of mining until the safety of the mining workers is ensured or the adverse effects of large-scale mining on the environment are minimized.
Disini said another obstacle to the industry is facing is the negative perception of people about mining in the Philippine, citing a recent PulseAsia Survey commissioned by the COMP on May 21 june June 4, this year with 1,200 respondents nationwide.
The survey disclosed that 51 percent or 612 respondents are not aware of the mining industry in the country while only 49 percent or 588 respondents said they are aware.
Of the respondents (588) that answered that they are aware, 62 percent (365) of this have negative perception towards mining while 38 percent (223) gave positive answer concerning mining.
Among the negative responses were: it destroys the environment; poses dangers to the lives of workers and communities. On the positive responses: it provides employment and livelihood; provide foreign investments into the country and it contributes to the growth of the country.
Disini said because of the negative perception of people towards the mining industry the COMP would embark on an aggressive information drive and initiate a corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities that would change this negative perceptions.
The COMP said it would launch an IEC campaign through media with messages that would neutralize the negative perceptions and promote positive ones as for its CSR initiative it would grant scholarship for students from mining companies; partner with DepEd for Adopt-A-School Program; partner with LGUs to support schools, hospital, health centers and environmental protection and preservation measures.
Manuel Banaag MGB Mineral Economics Information and Publication Division chief said there are 27 mining companies operating in the country producing gold, silver, copper nickel, and chromite while there are two nickel and copper processing plants.
Banaag said with the government’s active promotion of responsible mining since 2004, the Philippine Minerals industry had been growing well over last five years.
The opening of new producing mines and metallic sector grew by 39 percent in terms of Gross Production Value (GPV) in 2010 from P79.6 Billion to P111 billion up by P31.4 billion.
Mining contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) posted a 1.4 percent or P110.4 billion (US$ 2.4 billion); total export grew by 5.4 percent with US$ 2.98 billion in export receipts; taxes fees and royalties paid at P12.5 billion (US$ 27 billion) while employment in mining with 212,000.
Minerals and metallic prices went up, gold at US$ 1,222/oz, copper at US$ 3.40/lb and nickel at US$ 9.82/lb.
In 2010, based on the United States Geological Survey data, the Philippines became the third biggest producer of nickel ore behind Russia and Indonesia
In terms of investments, the aggregate amount of US$ 3.8 billion has been invested in the sector over the last six years (2006) total investment are projecte4d to reach US$ 18 billion by 2016.
According to Banaag, the future of the Philippine mining industry however, rest on the various exploration, development, processing and expansion projects that are in progress on the ground.
He said most of the significant mining project are: the US$ 1.3 billion HPAL project of Sumitomo metals and Mining Corp, which is now under construction; the US$ 5.9 billion Tampakan Copper Project of Xstrata; the US$ 1 billion Boyungan Goldf Project of Philex Mining, the US$ 1 billion Kingking Copper Godl Project of CGA and St. Augustine.