Gov’t eyes more foreign mining ventures in H2

The government expects more investments to come in the second half as more foreign companies either merge with existing firms or tie up with local miners.

"They (foreign firms) see that the mining industry is advancing slowly but surely, and that is enough for them to invest in the Philippines," said Mines and Geosciences Bureau chief Edwin Domingo, who recently attended a mining event in Singapore.

He said African companies had started looking at the Philippines as a possible investment area particularly for gold projects.

Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd. of Africa and Australian miner CGA Mining Ltd. have expressed interest in partnering with OceanaGold Corp. for the development of a gold mine in Nueva Vizcaya.

Harmony is the third largest gold miner in South Africa and the fifth largest gold producer in the world. Harmony and its subsidiaries conduct underground and surface gold mining and related activities, including exploration, processing, smelting and refining.

Meanwhile, CGA is already operating a gold mine in Masbate with partner Filminera Resources Corp.

Domingo said a number of miners already in operation such as Gold Fields and Brazilian Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), the largest iron ore producer and the world’s second-largest mining company, are seeking more areas to develop.

Gold Fields has a deal with Mindoro Resources Ltd. to develop Mindoro’s El Paso, Lobo and Talahib porphyry copper-gold projects in Batangas, while Vale has signed an exploration agreement with Geograce Resources Phils., Inc. to explore Masbate for gold and other precious metals.

"These mining companies are in operation now, but they are willing to expand their coverage by partnering with other companies for available mining prospects," he said.

Another company that is also interested in the Philippine mining industry is state-owned Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. Domingo said the firm had been in the country since last year and had been looking for investment areas.

Mineral production is expected to reach $2.95 billion this year with the entry of several mining projects such as Carmen Copper, the expansion of Philsaga and TVI Resource Development.

Mineral exports this year are expected to hit $2.8 billion, 5.4 percent higher than the estimated $2.72 billion last year.

The Mines bureau said investments in the mining sector could reach $1.42 billion this year from an estimated $627.84 million last year.

Major investments this year include the Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd’s ore processing project in Surigao del Norte. The Japanese miner is also expected to invest $800 million in a $2.25-billion nickel processing plant. — NPA, GMANews.TV

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