The total investment in Philippine mining industry declined by almost a fourth last year, as big-ticket projects remained unrealized because of the Aquino administration’s policy.
In a report, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said investment in major mining projects in 2015 reached $924.94 million, down 22.5 percent from $1.193 billion in 2014.
Majority of the investment came from the continuing expansion of four operating projects and one new mining concern in the construction stage, the MGB noted.
The projects include Philex Mining Corp.’s Sto. Tomas Copper Project in Tuba, Benguet worth $44.98 million; Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp.’s Surigao Sumitomo HPAL Project in Claver, Surigao del Norte worth $180 million; CTP Construction and Mining Corporation’s SIRC Nickel Project in Claver, Surigao del Norte worth $47.30 million; and FCF Minerals Corp.’s Runruno Gold Project in Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya worth $41.40 million.
The Runruno Gold Project was in the construction stage and expected to start commercial operation during the first semester of 2016.
New mining projects also began to infuse substantial investment in 2015, including Hallmark Mining Corporation and Austral-Asia Mining Link Mining Corporation’s Pujada Nickel Project in Davao Oriental worth $20.5 million; Nationwide Development Corporation’s King-king Copper-Gold Project in Compostela Valley at $145 million; and Silangan Mindanao Mining Company Incorporated’s Silangan Copper-Gold Project in Surigao del Norte worth $32 million.
Investment in new mineral exploration projects posted $78.97million, down 44.23 percent from $141.6 million year-on-year.
Earlier, the country’s mining lobby Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) blamed the Aquino administration’s mining policy for the continued decline in mining investment.
COMP President Bejamin Philip Romualez noted that the last five years have not been encouraging with only 24 percent of investment target realized.
“We need to help overcome this declining trend,” Romualdez said.
While mining permit issuances are on hold, Romualdez said the government is thinking of increase mining taxes by as much as 71 percent, the highest among ASEAN countries.
The government earlier said that Executive Order 79 seeks to balance the concerns surrounding mining development and reinforcing environmental protection measures, promoting responsible mining, providing a more equitable revenue-sharing scheme, and providing coordinative mechanisms among stakeholders that include local government units (LGUs).
EO 79 bans mining in prime agriculture and fishing areas as well as in 78 designated ecotourism sites, including almost the entire province of Palawan.
It also disallows the issuance of new mining permits until Congress passes a measure increasing the royalty tax imposed on the gross earnings of mining companies to 5 percent from 2 percent.