MINING in a small-scale form has existed in the Philippines for thousands of years, and gold was an important commodity for the native inhabitants in pre-Spanish times. Tribes in the Philippines traded with what is now China, India, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

It was not until 1864, however, that the first true large-scale mine, the gold and copper Lepanto Mine, was opened in the Philippines. A century and a half later, mining has become a key economic sector for the country. Here are some figures compiled from Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) data that provide a snapshot of the industry as of the end of 2018:

$4.26 Billion: The total exports of metallic and non-metallic minerals and mineral products in 2018. Copper, gold, and nickel are the Philippines’ top mineral exports, with Japan, Australia, Canada, and China being the country’s biggest mineral export customers.

212,000: The number of workers employed in the minerals industry as of the end of 2018. The government has conservatively estimated that for each mineral industry job, about four indirect jobs in upstream and downstream sectors are supported.

P25.70 Billion: The total amount of national and local taxes, fees, and royalties paid in 2017.

P121.94 Billion: The total estimated production value for metallic minerals in 2018. The top three mineral products by value were nickel (P55.18 billion); gold (P44.81 billion); and copper (P20.68 billion).

9 million: The number of hectares (out of a total of 30 million) of land in the Philippines which is believed to have “high mineral potential.”

702,715: The number of hectares actually covered by mining tenements.

48: The number of metallic mines operating in 2018. These include eight gold mines, three copper mines, 30 nickel mines, three chromite mines, and four iron mines.

61: The number of operating non-metallic mines in the country, including 35 limestone and shale quarries, 15 aggregate (gravel) quarries, three clay quarries, two sand and gravel quarries, and one dolomite quarry.

5: The number of ore processing plants in the Philippines, two each for gold and nickel, and one copper smelter plant.

3,389: The number of small quarries and sand and gravel operations covered by permits issued by local government units.