The Philippine mining sector may attract investments of up to US$10 billion within three to five years, dwarfing earlier forecasts, due to the recent influx of big-ticket projects. Speaking to reporters at the start of the 7th Asia Pacific Mining Conference held at the Makati Shangri-La Monday, Benjamin Philip Romualdez, president of the Asean Federation of Mining Associations, said the initial target of US$400 million to US$500 million new investments for the industry must be revised.
“It will go higher,” he said as he estimated this year’s investments alone to total US$700 million as BHP Billiton expressed interest in infusing US$1 billion while Japanese firm Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd signified interest in spending US$1 billion for a nickel and cobalt smelter project in Mindanao.
Sumitomo said they are currently in the process of completing the expansion of its Coral Bay nickel mining and processing project in Palawan. The expansion project, worth US$300 million, is expected to double the project’s capacity by 2009.
Romualdez said the robust mining industry in the Philippines is a result of the good partnership between the private sector and the government. “We are all working together towards the revitalisation of the mining industry.”
As a group, Romualdez said Asean countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia are best poised to serve the need for minerals, providing a significant resource block in East Asia. However, he conceded that there will be a lot of challenges ahead, specifically from non-governmental organisations who oppose mining in general. Romualdez said that the mining sector is willing to work with “reasonable, moderate conservatives” but admitted they cannot please everyone.
The three-day conference expects to draw the attendance of three foreign mining dignitaries: J. David Lowell of Lowell Mineral Exploration LLC, Owen Hegarty of Oxiana Ltd, and Dato Dr Mohd Ajib Anuar, president of the Malaysian Chamber of Mines. The conference and exhibition is a gathering of global mining leaders and provides an opportunity to be involved with the development of mineral resources and exploration potentials in the resource-rich Asia-Pacific region.