Philippines: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources

The Philippines, with a total population of approximately 104.9 million as of July 2017, is a nation made up of more than 7,100 islands located in Southeastern Asia, between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, to the east of Vietnam. The country mostly has a tropical marine climate and covers a total area of 300,000 km2.

The Philippines was under Japanese rule for a long time since the 16th century, and the country gained independence on 4th July 1946.

The national flag of the Philippines.
The national flag of the Philippines.
Image Credits: CIA Factbook.

In the first quarter of 2019, the GDP of the Philippines increased by 5.6% from the previous year. A majority of this growth is attributed to the success of the trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, as well as the industries involved in the production of personal and household goods.

Overview of Resources

It is estimated that the Philippines is home to more than 21.5 billion metric tons (MT) of metal deposits and 19.3 billion MT of nonmetal mineral deposits. The natural resources of the Philippines include copper, timber, nickel, petroleum, silver, gold, cobalt, and salt.

The map of Philippines.

The map of Philippines. Image Credits: CIA Factbook

Metals

In 2018, the Philippines metallic mineral industry experienced significant growth of 10.42% compared to 2017 production.

The Philippines is considered to be the world’s second-largest producer of nickel following Indonesia. As of 2016, this country produced almost 350,000 MT of nickel. Since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, several mines across the country have been shut down as a result of growing environmental concerns. In 2018, nickel direct shipping ore and mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide comprised 42.25% of the total metallic minerals produced that year.

Since the president’s mining exploration permit bans have limited the number of new mining operations to proceed, Nickel Asia remains the largest nickel producer in the Philippines. The primary nickel mines in the Philippines that are controlled by Nickel Asia include Rio Tuba, Taganito, Hinatuan, and Cagdianao.

In 2018, 16.96% of the 110/43 billion MT of metallic minerals produced in the Philippines was copper. Toledo Copper Operations of Carmen Copper Corporation in Cebu was responsible for about 53% of the total copper produced in the Philippines in 2018, which totaled to almost 150,000 dry MT.

Out of all of the metallic minerals produced by the Philippines in 2018, gold production made up 36.74%. Unfortunately, precious metals like gold and silver experienced a reduction in their production rates as compared to that which existed in the previous year. More specifically, gold production reduced by 9% and 2% in volume and value, respectively, in 2018.

Fossil Fuels

By the end of 2018, the Philippines projected a target production of approximately 79 million barrels of oil and gas. To achieve this goal, the government increased its service contracts by 40% during their early planning period of 2018. There are currently 16 sedimentary basins dedicated to the production of fossil fuels in the Philippines, most of which are located in Luzon, particularly within the Palawan region.

An increase in indigenous coal production was predicted to reach 250% compared to previous years as a result of a more significant amount of recent investors in this Philippines. To date, the nation imports about 75% of its total coal requirements.

In 2008, the Philippine government passed the Renewable Energy Act of 2008. Since this piece of legislation was passed, 206 service contracts were signed. By the end of 2018, the Philippines aimed to reach a 3000 megawatt (MW) installation capacity of geothermal energy.

Investment

In May 2009, the Philippine Mineral Resources Act was filed by the Philippines’ Congress. This act is also known as the Alternative Mining Bill—House Bill 6342 that replaced the Philippines Mining Act of 1995.

The Philippine Mineral Resources Act focused on the management and possession of the country’s mineral ores such as quarry products, gemstones, gravel, and sand, that are located inland. This act also emphasized recycling of the existing mineral products and proper management of resources. This act also focused on the reasonable distribution of profits obtained from the country’s various mining activities to the state, indigenous people and local communities and on the usage of new mining policies for future mining explorations carried out in the country

In 2010, the mineral industry of the Philippines saw a steady increase in its production capacity. The country aims to become a chief supplier and producer of mineral commodities due to the increasing demand for nickel, copper, gold, and construction materials. The country also plans to expand its mineral trade with neighboring countries.

Medusa mining, an Australian gold producer, focused exclusively on the Philippines, recently reaffirmed the exploration target for the Co-O project in the Philippines. In an attempt to extend the size of the mineralization area, this mining company made significant advances by exploring and understanding the geology of the Co-O mine. Through this project, the company plans to increase its production to 200,000 ounces in Phase 3 in comparison with its Phase 2 production of 100,000 annualized ounces.

The production of nickel in the Philippines will continue to dominate in the mineral sector, as several projects in the country have already started to expand their facilities. Metal production will also likely see a tremendous improvement due to the increasing number of exploration activities and discoveries that also include proposed developments such as the Tampakan copper project, the Siana gold project, and the Taganito HPALNickel Corp. processing plant.

With the help of these futuristic plans, the country hopes to improve its mineral and mining sectors and thereby uplift its economic status.

Disclaimer: The Author of this article does not imply any investment recommendation and some content is speculative in nature. The Author is not affiliated in any way with any companies mentioned and all statistical information is publically available.

Sources and Further Reading

This article was updated on the 18th July, 2019.

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