THE Philippines has one of the largest mineral reserves in the world. Among the metallic minerals, the largest reserve is copper, which is estimated at 4 billion metric tons (MT). This makes the Philippines the fourth largest country in the world in terms of copper reserves. From such vast reserves, the industry produces copper concentrates, cathodes, and wires. The Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone (LEIZ), the Philippines’ first ecological zone, presents an opportunity for sustainable industrial development that is anchored on the copper industry, with LEIZ as a template for future eco-industrial parks. It is envisioned to provide economic growth to the province of Leyte, the Eastern Visayas Region, and the rest of the country. The total land area of the development is 1,054 hectares that cover three sites in the municipalities of Isabel and Merida.
The preparation of the LEIZ Master Development Plan was made possible through the Board of Investments in cooperation with government and private stakeholders, particularly the Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corp. (Pasar); the Department of Trade and Industry in Region 8 (DTI-8); the National Economic Development Authority in Region 8 (NEDA-RO8); the National Development Company; Visayas State University (VSU); the province of Leyte; the cities of Ormoc and Tacloban; the municipalities of Isabel, Merida, Palompon and Villaba; the local Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCIs); civil society organizations (CSOs); and the International Copper Association of Southeast Asia (Icasea).
The LEIZ’s main project features comprise light and heavy industries; mixed-use developments that include retail, commercial, office and residential spaces and one-stop shops; institutional developments; transport stations; nature reserves for agro-industrial development; parks and open spaces; and walkable and bikeable roads; among others.
The master development plan is based on one of Palafox Associates’ and Palafox Architecture Group’s development principles — the Triple Bottom Line or the 3 P’s: people first or social equity, planet earth or the environment, then profit or economic development. In prioritizing people, the development is envisioned to address job creation and poverty alleviation. The LEIZ is forecasted to create approximately 60,000 jobs for the province.
For environmental protection, the development will help establish a sustainable and circular economy for the copper industry. It will support a fully integrated value chain from sustainable mining to downstream manufacturing, where value is optimized together with the development of domestically produced, copper-using commodities such as wire harnesses, high-efficiency motors and appliances, and power and distribution transformers to serve both local and global markets. The LEIZ will also feature other resource conservation components like urban agriculture, nature reservoirs, parks and green spaces, bike lanes, transport connectivity, bioswales, green roofing and solar panels, among others.
To promote economic development, the LEIZ will support the emerging copper industry that aims to contribute to the economic growth in the region and in the Philippines. The LEIZ encourages the clustering of copper-related manufacturing activities — a critical component for the full integration of the copper industry value chain — that will help the manufacturing subsector accomplish its goal to increase its contribution to the country’s economy from 22.8 percent to 30 percent by 2025. The master development plan also includes other economic opportunities like local and farm-to-table restaurants, a farmer’s market, and mixed-use developments, among others.