Business chamber seeks backing for mining regulation bill
The oldest business chamber in the country wants lawmakers to back a proposal that would regulate the mining industry, narrowing the flow of exported raw mining minerals in order to encourage companies to process the raw materials here instead.
Jose Luis Yulo Jr, the president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands (CCPI), told reporters on Wednesday that the chamber is looking for a lawmaker that would sponsor a bill to amend the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 sometime during the first half of the year.
Influential business groups both local and foreign have voiced their opposition against an outright ban of unprocessed mineral exports, warning that there might be economic backlashes in doing so, especially at a time when the country is the world’s top nickel ore exporter.
For the chamber’s part, Yulo said that the proposal would regulate the export of raw materials “to a few neighbors” that do not have such the natural resources, while possibly offering incentives for companies that would decide to process their minerals here in the Philippines instead.
“We should only give the mine to people who would produce a factory and use the minerals to produce finished products. What we’re doing now is we get the mine, we get the copper ore, and then we give it to China and Japan, then we import back the finished and [more expensive] product,” he said
There have been prior attempts in Congress to ban mineral ore exports, but none of them have become laws yet. The chamber had also called for an amendment of the law last year to make mineral processing as part of the requirements of a mining project.
“We can give incentives. If you’re a manufacturer of copper materials, where would you put your factory? In Thailand? In Malaysia? You put it where you source it from, but that would require an investment,” he said.
According to data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the mining industry only contributed less than one percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) at least since 2013. In 2016, it accounted for 0.6 percent of GDP while employing 219,000 workers, or 0.5 percent of the country’s entire workforce.
Yulo said that other countries have been benefitting from the country’s export-oriented firms. He also said that companies prefer this arrangement because it is a faster process when compared to setting up their own processing facilities in the country.
“All the wealth and all the employment go to them [the other countries]. That’s why today we can’t even make a ballpen, which has a lot of metal parts,” he added. /je
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