RECENT regulatory changes and new policies for the Philippines mining sector, which include an increased focus on adopting environmental and socially responsible standards, may create opportunities for the proven expertise of Australia’s mining and METS sectors.

After a year of change and uncertainty for the sector in the Philippines, recently appointed secretary for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Roy Cimatu, has been welcomed by business and industry interests.

Austrade’s senior trade and investment commissioner to the Philippines and Micronesia Elodie Journet said during an address to the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Manila, that secretary Cimatu had confirmed that his priorities were focused on energy, environmental clearance, waste disposal, water and mining.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) has welcomed Roy Cimatu’s appointment, noting it is the beginning of a new chapter, given he has indicated mining will be permitted in the Philippines but will need to be aligned with global best practices.

COMP had opposed policy changes implemented by former DENR secretary Regina Lopez which closed 22 of the country’s 41 operating mines in February and cancelled dozens of contracts for undeveloped mines, which heavily impacted the fifth-most-mineralised country in the world.

Secretary Cimatu has also announced he would follow the 1995 Philippine Mining Act which provides the legal basis for the government’s active promotion of the country’s mining industry.

“This more moderate stance on mining will potentially provide renewed opportunities for Australian businesses, who are well placed to play a key role in future mining activities in the Philippines,” said Elodie Journet.

“President Rodrigo Duterte has publicly referred to Australia as the standard for sustainable mining. Indeed, the Australian mining industry has demonstrated experience in the pursuit of sustainable mining, recognising that environmental accountability, social responsibility and commercial success must be tackled all at the same time.

“Australia is ready to offer relevant expertise to fast track the Philippines successful development of its natural resources,” she added.

“Rosemarie Edillon, undersecretary National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) of the Philippines, recently visited Australia to meet with Australian water policy experts and an official invitation has been issued to secretary Cimatu to participate in the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne.”

The Philippines is the fifth most mineral-rich country in the world for gold, nickel, copper and chromite and has mineral wealth estimated at A$1.113 billion. While there is an estimated 30 million hectares of mineable land, only 2.52% of this area is covered with mining contracts/permits.

Metal deposits are estimated at 21.5 billion tonnes and non-metallic minerals at 19.3 billion tonnes. The country has untapped coal resources estimated at about 2.4 billion tonnes.

As of 2016 there were 1473 mining applications under process in the Philippines and the country had 40 operating mines and 62 non-metallic mines as at September 2016.

There are more than 40 Australian mining equipment and technology providers already active in the Philippines.

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