Mining industry officials seek ‘stable climate’By Riza T. Olchondra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Mining company executives at the recently concluded Mining Philippines 2013 Conference and Exhibition called for a “stable” environment that will help the industry contribute more to the country’s economic expansion.
In separate presentations, officials said the government should consider how changing mining policy would add to risks and costs presented by a lack of infrastructure such as roads, not to mention the volatile power supply.
Sagittarius Mines Inc. executive vice president Justin Hillier said investors expected a higher rate of return in less developed countries like the Philippines, where there was more risk and more costs due to lack of infrastructure such as power and roads, compared to developed countries like Canada.
Allan Trench, managing consultant of the CRU Group, said the Philippines should follow the example of Chile in its attractive mining policy for investors as it was rated No. 1 by investors based on a recent Fraser Institute survey that considered three criteria, including mineral potential and mining fiscal policy. “Chile’s investment policy is five to six times more attractive than any place in the world, including the Philippines, even if the Philippines also has huge mineral potential,” said Trench.
MRL Gold Inc., a subsidiary of Singaporean firm Red Mountain, has two mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) contracts to develop a gold project in Lobo, Batangas. “If we are allowed to pursue development and get it into production under the current fiscal regime, then we’ll start to work on the financial models. We go to the banks and say ’this is the fiscal regime, you lend us the money.’ If the government changes it, we may not get the funding,” MRL Gold Philippines manager Geoff Boswell said.
Former environment secretary Horacio C. Ramos, now president of Clariden Holdings (a San Miguel Corp. subsidiary that is buying into metallic mining properties), expressed concern that the Philippines might end up having the best mining policies, “yet have no industry to speak of.”