TO spur growth in the coal mining industry, the Philippine Chamber of Coal Mines (Philcoal) has expressed support for the amendment of the economic provisions of the Constitution, particularly the restrictions on foreign ownership in certain investment sectors.
Philcoal executive director Arnulfo Robles pointed out that the 40 percent cap for foreign investors needs to be addressed.
“Unless the limits on foreign ownership are relaxed, the Philippines could still find itself left out of the lion’s share of FDI [foreign direct investment]in the region, despite everything else in place,” said Robles during the recently concluded 4th Coaltrans Emerging Asian Coal Markets 2015 Forum.
As with the other industries, Robles said the domestic coal mining industry “urgently needs a shot in the arm, so to speak, for much-needed foreign capital if it is to survive and sustain its growth momentum.”
Based on the 1987 Constitution, since the coal and other minerals are natural resources owned by the state, it can undertake activities to explore and develop it. According to the Charter, the state “may enter into co-production, joint venture or production sharing agreements with Filipino citizens or corporations or associations at least 60 percent of whose capital is owned by such citizens.”
According to Robles, many economists agree that if the country is to take advantage of the Asean integration, it must introduce essential reforms including the liberalization of certain sectors of the economy.
“Amending the Constitution is a necessary step if we are to usher in an open minded and more competitive Philippine economy,” said Robles.
Data from the Department of Energy (DOE) showed that the Philippines has a coal resource potential of about 2.4 billion metric tons as of end December 2014. The country is also said to have positive reserves of 274.9 million metric tons (MT) and mineable reserves of 297.76 million MT.
The DOE data show that coal production was placed at 8.4 million MT as of last year, with bulk coming from Semirara Island at 8.16 million MT.
But the country imported around 15.182 million MT last year of which bulk came from Indonesia, followed by Vietnam and Russia.
The coal consumption was primarily for power generation followed by cement and industrial or direct process.