The Philippines’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said on Thursday about 5 million hectares of potentially mineralised areas across the archipelago are now open to local and foreign investors after it rejected more than two-thirds of pending mining applications.
The state agency said in a statement it approved only 530 applications and rejected 1,606 requests at the end of an eight-month “cleansing” process aimed at getting rid of mining speculators.
The agency said the proliferation of mining speculators, or those given permits but have not started any projects, has discouraged serious investors and the development of the country’s mining industry.
Around a fourth of the rejected applications were still eligible for an appeal, the agency said.
“The completion of the cleansing process opens a new chapter in the country’s mining tenement system, where only high potential areas with no land use conflicts may be made available for development by serious and qualified mining operators,” MGB director Leo Jasareno said.
The Southeast Asian country is looking to lure investors into its mining industry, but investment flip-flops and a strong anti-mining lobby have slowed the development of the sector.
A number of Chinese mining companies were interested in investing the Philippines, according to industry group Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, while some local companies were looking to forge partnerships with Australian miners.
The country has extracted only a small portion of its estimated $1 trillion worth of mineral deposits, but the government wants to capitalise on higher mineral prices to boost its economy.
Mining investment in the country is forecast to reach $1.4 billion this year, 40 percent above earlier estimates and the most since the sector was opened fully to foreigners in 2005.