Philippines sits on $840B of mine—US


With untapped mineral wealth worth more than $840 billion, the Philippines is “one of the world’s most highly mineralized countries,” according to a US Department of State report on the Philippine economy.

Despite its rich gold, copper and chromate deposits, however, “the Philippine mining industry is just a fraction of what it was in the 1970s and 1980s when the country ranked among the 10 leading gold and copper producers worldwide,” the Washington-based agency said.

“Low metal prices, high production costs and lack of investment in infrastructure contributed to the industry’s overall decline,” the State Department said in the report, which the US Embassy in Manila has posted on its website.

It noted that “a December 2004 Supreme Court decision upheld the constitutionality of the 1986 Mining Act, thereby allowing up to 100 percent foreign-owned companies to invest in large-scale exploration, development and utilization of minerals, oil and gas” in the country.

Local mining bans

“Some local government units have enacted mining bans in their territories, citing concerns over environmental degradation, unequal distribution of tax revenues, unemployment caused by displacement of small-scale miners, and marginalization of indigenous people,” the agency said.

According to the State Department report, “Philippine copper, gold and chromate deposits are among the largest in the world.”

“Other important minerals include nickel, silver, coal, gypsum and sulfur. The Philippines also has significant deposits of clay, limestone, marble, silica, and phosphate. Natural gas reserves discovered off Palawan have been brought on line to generate electricity,” it said.

In the same report, the agency said the Philippine economy “proved comparatively well-equipped to weather the recent global financial crisis, partly as a result of the efforts to control the fiscal deficit, bring down debt ratios and adopt internationally accepted banking sector capital adequacy standards.”

Slow growth

“After slowing to 3.8 percent growth in 2008 and sputtering to 1.1 percent in 2009, real year-on-year GDP growth rebounded to 7.6 percent in 2010, a 34-year high fueled in part by election-related spending, optimism over the peaceful transition to a new government, and an accommodating monetary policy,” the report said.

However, “growth slowed in 2011 and is likely to be in the 3.5 percent to 4 percent range,” it said.

According to the State Department, “the portion of the population living below the national poverty line increased from 24.9 percent to 26.5 percent between 2003 and 2009, equivalent to an additional 3.3 million Filipinos.”

The agency also reported that the Philippines’ business process outsourcing (BPO) industry “currently accounts for about 15 percent of the global outsourcing market and has been the fastest-growing segment of the Philippine economy.”

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  • Yvette

    The Philippines should be able to maximize its potentials especially as a country endowed with rich mineral resources. Just imagine that even with a fraction of the value of this untapped wealth, jobs can be created, livelihood and social benefits for the people can be provided and infrastructure can be built. Not to mention, the contributions this would bring to our GDP. Needless to say, this is with strict compliance to the rules set by government. Say, the mining act of 1995 that governs the mining industry. So at the end of the day, it really is about governance or the clear implementation of the rule.

  • Joseph Solis


    To destroy the power of Lopez oligarchs in mining sector and encourage small-scale miners to follow global safety standards. Also, encouraging more foreign mining companies to tap our mining resources:

    Abolish the start-up capital restrictions and a necessity of a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement with the Office of the President from the Mining Act of 1995 provided also with a constitutional amendment of abolishing the 60/40 Filipino-Foreign equity rule from the 1987 Constitution to have a more flexibility for the Philippines to attract foreign investments that would eventually provide jobs to the millions of Filipinos and more businesses to flourish later on.

    Anyone who advocates total mining ban shall throw their gadgets away because of it’s components came from mining extraction!

  • James Gumbao

    The natural gas is a resources of the province of Palawan. It is not something that come from nearby islands like Spratly islands (also claimed as part of the islands of Palawan)

    Former President Fidel V Ramos inaugurated and signed the gas project recognising that the resources was part of Palawan. However when money started to flow, the former President Macapagal Arroyo created an issue stating the gas was not part of Palawan. Arroyo amass all the taxes and used it to fund her projects! Palawan politicians who were first against the moved later on surrendered to Arroyo – former Palawan governor Joel T. Reyes created a resolution favouring Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in exchanged for millions of donations from GMA to Palawan government. Arroyo, Reyes, Mitra, et. al benefited and accused corrupted a lot of money from the project which the media never ever tackled before.

    The issue is now in the Supreme Court. If the people of Palawan win on this battle, former President Arroyo and a lot of our former politicians particularly Joel Reyes and Baham Mitra will surely be charged.

  • Chris Nadal

    What the Philippines should promote is responsible mining, a balance between environment and wealth generation. $840 billion is no joke even if we only mine 10% of that, it’s $84 billion and spread in 10 to 20 years, that’s pretty substantial and can change lives. We only needed stricter law enforcement which is always a failure. Australia can make it, why not Philippines?

  • Laki Bayag

    Who cares about the estimates? The fact that U.S. companies want to get involved in mining operation locally indicates that the country has substantial mineral deposits. Do we care? Which is more important, environment or $$? So yeah, you rake in the $$ and yet destroy your home. C’mon now, that’s backward thinking yo. I say no, screw these companies.

    • Dr Sponklong

      I agree.

      Be careful with these charlatans who are talking about sleeping money.

      Like Yamashita’s treasure, there will be many who’ll get fooled.

  • Albert, Jr. Massab

    The estimates are very conservative, as a miner for the past 24 years the reserves are in the trillions of The supposed None Governmental Organizations, Local Government Units who are concerned with the environment are really agents in the position to make milking cows out the prospectors whether local or foreign, for mining biggest obstacle are social concerns.. As for regional and national environmental office they should stand out and defend mining, as she is the back bone of all developed nations whom utilize the earth natural resources with responsible and sustainable manners of the highest standards

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