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MGB weighs if PH mineral resources merit processing

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) wants to see if the Philippines has enough mineral resources to go downstream, a factor that would be largely considered as the agency drafts policy recommendations that would possibly push for the development of more mineral processing plants in the country.

Cynthia Villar

Cynthia Villar

Senator Cynthia Villar earlier said that more mineral processing plants should be built in the Philippines so that miners could extract more value from the country’s natural resources at the same time generate more jobs.

But according to MGB Director Mario Luis Jacinto, this move to develop the metals and mining downstream industry should be backed by policy recommendations and a clear framework.

“Before the end of the year, we promise to have a recommendation on how we should proceed with it. At least we should be able to come up with a framework or a roadmap on how to proceed with it,” Jacinto said in an interview.

“We will consolidate studies and then slowly come up with our policy recommendation,” he added.

Jacinto said that while developing the downstream industry for metals and minerals sounds good, the question is if the country has enough volume to sustain it.

He said that MGB is now consulting with all stakeholders of the industry as well as with other government agencies for the said move.

Mercedita Sombilla, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environment Staff, earlier said that a government-led roadmap is indeed needed to see if more mineral processing plants should really be built in order for the mining sector to prove its existence in the country.

According to her, despite the sector’s economic potential, mining industry’s contribution to the Philippine economy remained very low.

One possible reason for the sector’s failure was its inability to add value to their products.

“We also have low number of processing plants. We currently have four now — two gold processing plants and two nickel processing plants,” Sombilla said. “On the economic front, the challenge here is the limited value-addition of minerals.”

She also said the development of more processing plants will eventually make the mining sector’s growth more inclusive because they will create more jobs.

“We really need a roadmap. It is really necessary because as of now, it is not yet clear and there’s no direction. What is clear on my part is that the total closure of mining sector will have a clear impact on gross domestic product [GDP]. That is one of the risk factors,” Sombilla said before.