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Caraga seen as emerging mining capital in Asia

The Caraga region is now being viewed as the emerging “mining capital” in Asia with an increasing number of foreign and domestic investors pouring capital into the local mineral industry, a ranking official of the region’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) here said.

Caraga’s Trade and Industry regional director Brielgo O. Pagaran said the region has already been acknowledged as Asia’s emerging mining capital. He said at least 41 mineral production and sharing agreements (MPSAs) are now operating in the provinces of Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur including Dinagat Islands.

Pagaran said the region, having rich mineral deposits, has attracted many new investors. He added that at least 71 applications for production sharing agreement have already been approved with 247,916.59 hectares, while exploration permits (EP) also reaches to 17 with 25,147.56 hectares.

Earlier, the Board of Investments has reportedly approved the grant of incentives to Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. (MMDC)’s P474-million nickel-mining project in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur. The MMDC’s nickel ore-mining project has capacities of up to 800,000 wet metric tons.

MMDC’s nickel ore-mining project is expected to be operational starting this month and will employ around 215 people.

Sources said the Sumitomo Co. and Zamora Group mining investments are also expected to invest $1.2 billion in Surigao del Norte.

At present, Caraga region hosted at least 62 mining firms already engaged in mining exploration covering some 103,643.25 hectares, or 55.29 percent, of the entire mining permits approved in Mindanao.

Records at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau regional office, however, show that around 80 MPSAs,124 EP applications and five financial and technical assistance agreements are pending approval. 

Caraga, which is composed of four provinces in northeastern Mindanao, is the largest exporter of minerals in the island with Japan, China and Australia as its main market.  It has an estimated 3.2 metric tons of assorted mineral deposits and is known as having Asia’s largest nickel deposit.

Nickel is commonly used in producing stainless steel, super alloys, electroplating, batteries, coinage, magnets and other industrial and commercial materials.

The DTI’s consolidated production report indicated  that the region’s 2007 production reached  P6.8 billion, but dropped to  P3.28 billion in 2008. Sources, however, said  mining investments in the region only reached $370 million in 2007.

“The decline of the consolidated production in 2008 was due to the global economic crisis, but it started to bounce back in 2009,” Pagaran said.  

He pointed out that the mining operations in the Caraga region have improved people’s  living conditions in the countryside as most of them, particularly indigenous people, found jobs while tax revenues for local government units also increased.

In 2008 alone, Pagaran said at least 9,291 people were employed by mining companies spread in different provinces. He added that the government revenue collection also went up by P1.241 billion in 2007 alone while social-development programs reached P50.5831 million. (Business Mirror)

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