MANILA - The Philippine government will step up support for the local mining industry via exploration activities starting next year to identify more areas where critical minerals such as nickel and chromium can be extracted, a senior official said on Tuesday.
The government-led exploration, which should help minimise risks for investors and provide necessary data for investment decisions, is the latest government measure to revitalise the Southeast Asian country's still vastly undeveloped mining sector.
"We want to help the industry with this critical step in the process," said Carlos Primo David, undersecretary at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
"We want to give some guidance on where to explore, what to explore, and it will be covered in a new regulation," David told reporters on the sidelines of an industry conference.
The Philippines, one of the main nickel ore suppliers to top metals consumer China and which also produces copper, gold and other minerals, is seeking to attract more investment in mining to support economic growth.
The government has removed restrictive mining policies, including a ban on open-pit mining, and is working to draw investment into its domestic nickel processing sector to squeeze value out of its metals and minerals industry.
"Our intention is to be able to identify (more) mineralised areas...for the purpose of being able to declare an area a mineral reservation. For any mining development in a mineral reservation, it goes with an extra royalty for the government," David said.
On domestic nickel ore processing, David said the government aims to add hopefully one more facility before the term of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expires in 2028.
There are only two nickel ore processing facilities in the Philippines currently, both partly owned by the country's top nickel ore producer and exporter Nickel Asia Corp. NIKL.PS.