May 17, 2017: Foreign miners still dogged by uncertainties

May 17, 2017: Foreign miners still dogged by uncertainties

ATTRACTING foreign investors will continue to be a challenge for the Philippine mining sector even with the ouster of environment advocate Regina Paz “Gina” L. Lopez as Environment Secretary, said BMI Research, which kept its stable outlook for nickel production through 2021.

The Fitch Group unit said the Philippines — as a destination for mining investment — is a regional laggard, scoring 45.1 out of 100 in the index it created to track mining risk and rewards. The average for Asian countries is 55.6.

“The Philippines will continue to deter potential foreign investors in the country’s mining space with its strict environmental laws, policy uncertainty and a social mindset that is anti-mining,” BMI said in a report e-mailed to reporters yesterday.

“Although the new head of the (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), Roy Cimatu, is more adaptive and believes mining and protecting the environment can be achieved simultaneously, President Rodrigo Duterte insists the existing mining law will be upheld,” BMI said.

The Philippine mining sector has a few foreign investors, including Oceanagold Corp. of Australia, and B2Gold Corp. and TVI Pacific Inc. of Canada.

Commodities giant Glencore divested from the $5.9-billion gold-copper Tampakan project — supposed to be the largest foreign investment in the Philippines — in the southern Mindanao island, as the project had failed to take off after the local government unit banned open-pit mining in 2010.

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