RP a major metals producer soon

The Philippines can achieve a mining country status earlier than 2013 in the face of surging world metal prices, the Chamber of Mines said Tuesday.

“It’s not a remote idea. With metal prices climbing at record rates, especially gold, the country may be able to trim down our waiting period earlier than 2013,” chamber president Philip Benjamin Romualdez told reporters at the opening of conference in Manila Hotel.

Romualdez said the sector could soon contribute 5 percent to 6 percent of the country’s total exports, the benchmark used by the World Bank in defining a mining country.

The government expects more investments in the second half of the year as more foreign companies express interest to merge with local mining companies.

Mineral production is projected to hit $2.95 billion this year with the commercial operation of several mining projects, including Carmen, the expansion of Philsaga Mining Corp. and TVI Resource Development (Philippines) Inc. Mineral exports are projected to reach $2.8 billion, up 5.4 percent from $2.72 billion in 2009.

The government earlier said investments in the mining this year would reach $1.42 billion from $627.84 million in 2009. The goal figure does not include the investment plan of Sumitomo Metals Mining Corp. Ltd. for the $1.3-billion Taganito gold project in Surigao del Norte province.

Cumulative investments in the mining sector have reached $2.78 billion since 2004 and the figure could hit $13.48 billion in 2013.

“We’re not at all perturbed that the local mining sector may not reach its target investment until 2013. The government has set its sights on as much as $13 billion. We, the private sector, are playing at a little over $14 billion,” Romualdez said. Othel V. Campos, Manila Standard

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