The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will scale down its mineral investment target in view of the global economic slowdown.
This was confirmed yesterday by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Jose L. Atienza at the close of the two-day Mining Financial Forum hosted by the Chamber of Mines at the Hotel Intercontinental Manila.
In a press conference, Atienza said the DENR is “downsizing” its mining investment targets in the face of the global economic slowdown which, in turn, has caused some mining investors to delay or reduce their planned investments in Philippine mining projects.
According to Atienza, at least two mining firms – OceanaGold ( Philippines), Inc. and Xstrata – have informed the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of their planned delays and reduction of their investments for the time being.
However, Atienza did not give any definite numbers yet as the DENR-MGB has not completed its assessment.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Horacio Ramos, reported that for 2008, the initial investment target of $850 million is not likely to be met. While the numbers have not been collated, Ramos said he expects the actual figure to be closer to $650 million.
For 2009, Ramos said the previous target of $1 billion will be trimmed down to $800 million.
Atienza remains optimistic though that the current global economic downturn will not last too long and that the Philippines would still be able to meet it $10- billion investment target by 2013.
Atienza pointed out that the Philippines’ mineral resources will remain intact and will be available once the global economy recovers.
In fact, Atienza pointed out that Asian neighbors like China, India and Japan continue to express interest in tapping the Philippines’ mineral resources.
He said the DENR, continues to entertain expressions of interest from several Chinese firms he refused to identify at this point in time.
At the close of the two-day forum, Chamber of Mines president Philip Romualdez agreed that there would be a delay in meeting government-set mining targets. In fact, Romualdez appealed to Atienza, on behalf of the mining sector, for some “reprieve” in the mining sector’s committed “deliverables.”
The DENR had been hoping that the Philippines will attain the distinction of being a “mining country” as early as 2009.
The DENR had projected that investment inflows up to 2011 would hit $10.467 billion.–Marianne V. Go, Philippine Star