Majority of Philippine minerals are exported and mainly benefit foreign corporations, research group IBON said. While ensuring environmentally safe and responsible mining methods, the Duterte administration should also ban the exodus of the country’s raw minerals. These should instead be efficiently reserved for and utilized to support and develop the country’s key industries towards national industrialization, said the group.
According to IBON, the Philippines is one of the most mineral-rich countries yet the majority of its minerals are exported. The country ranks 3rd in gold, 4th in copper, 5th in nickel and 6th in chromite. But government data shows that in 2015, total exports of minerals were equivalent to Php127.3 billion, while gross production value was Php179.7 billion (US$1=Php45.50). This means that 71% of total mineral production was exported in that year, said the group.
IBON noted that the Philippines primarily exports its minerals to countries in the Asian region. According to the World Bank World Integrated Trade Solution database, nearly 100% of the Philippines’ total world mineral exports (US$1.6 billion worth) went to the East Asia and Pacific in 2015. Among the top countries that the Philippines exported its minerals to were China (US$847.6 million), Japan (US$448.7 million) and Korea (US$263.37 million).
These countries that largely consume and benefit from Philippine mineral exports are also home to the world’s leading steel-producing firms, observed IBON. Among the World Steel Association’s list of top steel producers in 2015, next to ArcelorMittal, were Chinese companies Hesteel Group ranked 2nd, Baosteel 5th, Shagang Steel 6th and Ansteel group seventh. Japanese companies on the list were Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation ranked 3rd and JFE steel eighth. Meanwhile, Korean steel corporation, Posco, was ranked as the 4th top steel producer in the world.
IBON said that mining has low value-added when minerals are exported in a raw or semi-processed state. Though mineral processing in itself constitutes a quantitatively small share of the economy, its contribution across industrial, agriculture and service sectors can be qualitatively significant if used to develop the country’s industries.
Minerals like steel can be used extensively in construction, IBON said, while copper can be used in power infrastructure and electronic products. Minerals are also important in producing machinery that is used in manufacturing and agriculture. For instance, automotive production on average requires 40-60 mineral-based components such as iron, steel, aluminum, copper, zinc, titanium, platinum and gold. Meanwhile, computer chips and most electronic products on the average have 60 mineral-derived elements.
IBON said that protecting the environment and communities from harmful and destructive large-scale mining practices of big corporations is an initial positive step. At the same time, the government should also ensure that the country’s mineral resources will be saved and prioritized to truly benefit the Filipino people over corporate mining interests, and towards genuine national development. ###