Philippines aims to become mineral processing hub

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is targeting to level up from just a seller of ores by developing its processing capabilities in the next two decades, based on the roadmap outlined by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

In a report, the MGB said the government is looking for ways to level up the country’s mineral markets in the field of semi-processed and fully processed mineral products by pushing for the establishment of processing, refineries, and downstream industries.

“This move will also strategically position the country both in the value chain and the global supply chain and eventually level up its position from a mere vendor of ores,” it said.  This is highlighted in the MGB’s minerals sector 2022 to 2040 roadmap, which is divided into three phases.

The first phase, which covers 2022 to 2024, entails enhancing investors’ confidence in the mineral sector.

The second phase, covering 2023 to 2030, involves the expansion of domestic ore production and mineral assets. During the final phase, spanning from 2026 to 2040, the MGB aims to elevate the Philippines to the global mineral markets by focusing on the production of semi-processed and fully processed mineral products.

The MGB said the transition to electrification of cars on a global scale would increase demand for nickel, copper, and silver which are required to produce batteries for electric vehicles.

Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the utilization of renewable energies and electric vehicles is the global focus and metals needed for low-carbon technologies/clean technologies include lithium, cobalt, nickel, and copper.

“According to experts, increased deployment of low-carbon technology would mean producing countries will find their natural resources in high demand. This is beneficial for the Philippines considering our abundance of nickel ore,” the MGB said.

However, the implementation of this roadmap will depend on the interplay of internal and external factors, according to the agency, as it assesses the performance of the minerals sectors for the current year.

On the internal side, policy support from the government in terms of tax reforms, ease of doing business, foreign investments, effective processing, and regulation of small-scale mining would be critical.

External factors include global metal prices, foreign exchange rates, energy/fuel prices, the continuous Russia-Ukraine war, the speed of Chinese industrial/manufacturing sectors’ recovery, disruptions in the supply chains of metals and geopolitical tensions.