In search of rare metals, PH leaves no stone unturned


Graphic illustrating the use of rare earth metals, 95 percent of which are supplied by China. The Philippines is leaving no stone unturned in its quest for rare earth elements, a major component of electronic products. AFP

The Philippines is leaving no stone unturned in its quest for rare earth elements, or REE—a major component of electronic products.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said the government had earmarked an initial budget for REE development work, with the exploration phase to begin sometime in the next three months.

“The budget of P500,000 is just for fieldwork this year,” MGB director Leo Jasareno said in a phone interview.

Additional resources would be allocated when an agreement has been signed with a technical partner. The Philippines is considering partnering with China.

The MGB has already found potential areas to explore, and these areas are also close to copper-gold mines. Palawan and Mindanao have been identified as the best places to start, but authorities have yet to determine if there are enough resources in those areas for commercial production, MGB said.

Last year, the country’s plan to produce REEs stalled after Beijing reneged on earlier commitments to help Manila despite several “reminders” by the MGB. This came amid a dispute between Manila and Beijing over the Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. Before the dispute, Manila and Beijing were set to sign a deal to jointly explore for rare earth elements.

Producing rare earth elements became a serious consideration for many countries last year when China decided to cap exports. At the time, the Chinese Commerce Ministry announced an initial cut of 27 percent in its exports quota for 2012, reportedly as part of a crackdown on illegal mining of rare earth oxides.

China controls 97 percent of REE supply globally and has been reducing its export quota to secure greater control over pricing, thus leading to a surge in prices over the past two years, according to observers.

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  • Rovingmoron

    I have a strong feeling that the Philippines, noted for its rich mineral resources, may have huge deposits of rare earth metals that could earn the country tremendous revenues, and compete with China exports of these metals.

  • bornite

    kaya pala pinut-on-hold mga mining and exploration permits, kasi ni reserve na sa China..malaki ang kinita ng denr secretary tsaka mgb director sigurado nito, sama mo na si Pnoy. Haay. Sana tamaan kayo ng KIDLAT!

  • delpillar

    Last year, several universities and companies in Japan, Germany and the USA produced a prototype new materials that can be full replacement of REE.

    Some companies in Japan also made electric motors without even using REE.

    2 to 5 years from now, both REE-substitute and new technology without even using them will put in small-scale production.

    Also Japan discovered a vast deposits of REE two years ago. If all the REE can be recovered, it is expected to supply Japan requirements up to 250 years or even more. It is in the Pacific Ocean surrounding the Japanese Island of Minami-Toshima, up to the trenches near the Marshall Islands of the USA.

    The area, though is 3,000 to 5,000 meters deep.

    The first prototype robotic submarine made by Japan has just been finished and by June of this year, experimental mining will start. Mining at 3,000 or more meters deep in the ocean is very difficult and requires a lot of engineering innovations. But still, even with that challenges, Japan announced that by 2025 or 2030, full commercial mining will start.

  • arao_liwanag

    Lahat ng umaayon sa patakaran na papasukin ang dayuhan sa pagmiminna, PUTANG INA NY’O.

    • delpillar

      Wala ka ng magagawa Kumander Liwanag.
      Walang pinagkaiba ang grupo nyong mga NPA sa mga maiitim na utak ng mga na gobyerno.

      Mag-antay antay ka lang at may memo (direct message from Netherlands) na hwag gagalawin ng NPA (which means kasama na ang Liwanag Command), ang mga (small-scale) mining na pag-aari ng mga Chinese middlemen.

      Nag-transfer na ng suhol ang mga Chinese  dirrectly sa account ng Supremo nyo sa Netherlands para magmina ng lubos-lubusan.

      Kapag nakakuha na ng proof na meron ngang REE sa Pilipinas, meron na namang advanced money transfer sa Supremo nyo sa Netherlands.

  • Manuel C. Diaz

    Indium is used in the laptop screen and in cell phones. Indium used to sell at US$50/kilo now it is  averaging US$950/kilo and in short supply.A Japanese Company contacted us two years ago for the supply of Indium but our project in Zambales was bogged down by a Supreme Court case which now was resolved in our favor but again the other party filed a motion for reconsideration. Until this case is resolved  with finality that is the time we can start reprocessing the materials to produce zinc concentrate with Indium in the concentrate. 

  • Manuel C. Diaz

    five hundred thousand for one year exploration budget! Sweldo lang ng GEologist yan kulang pa. Partnership with China? MGB must be on drugs. China will curtail competition they control 95% of the market. We have rare earth metal Indium in the tailings of Dizon Mines. I am sure Indium is also present in the tailings of Bulawan Gold Mines in Negros since Indium is a by-product of zinc and the path finder element in the gold deposit of Bulawan gold is zinc.

  • ed0408

    There’s a replacement of REE being developed and the mineral is Graphene which is derived from graphite. Check CNN Money. No need to fund the search of REE. 

  • sigawngkatarungan123

    Rare earth minerals…Occidental mindoro…20 meters deep…after boulders…so save your 500 thousands wandering around like blind…

  • PinasK0ngMahal

    nakakabwisit naman oh! bakit china?
    habang ako dito nagboboycot na ng mga made in china na gamit at damit,
    tapos itong agency na ito makipag partner sa china.
    ano ba? BWST!

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