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ASEAN-AU NZ Free Trade Agreement: Open Economy for Economic Growth
by Marcelle P. Villegas - September 02, 2022
[Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), International Trade Policy and Trade Negotiation]
How can the ASEAN-AU NZ Free Trade Agreement help the Philippines? Will their initiative and strategies for open economy help various Philippine industries like mining, construction, agriculture, transportation, telecommunications, and others?
Last 18 July 2022, the Philippines Australia Business Council (PABC) in partnership with the Australia Philippines Business Council (APBC) and the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (ANZCHAM) hosted a webinar about the ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Their guest speaker was Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), International Trade Policy and Trade Negotiation.
Atty Dennis A. Quintero was the moderator. He is the Chairman and Trustee of the Philippines-Australia Business Council (PABC). The opening remarks was given by Her Excellency Hellen B. De La Vega, Philippine Ambassador to Australia. Bradley Norman, ANZCHAM Vice President, and Rafael Toda, APBC Vice President, delivered remarks on behalf of their respective organizations.
Asec Allan Gepty gave a presentation titled “ASEAN-Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP): The Philippine Perspective”. His presentation promotes the concept of “Open Economy as the Key to Economic Growth and Development”.
How can an Open Economy solve poverty?
According to the World Bank, “Trade is central to ending global poverty. Countries that are open to international trade tend to grow faster, innovate, improve productivity and provide higher income and more opportunities to their people.”
Here are some important key points from Asec Gepty’s presentation:
Open Economy in an interdependent world
In a highly globalized and interdependent world having an open economy is critical.
• Cooperation between and among States or economies ensures the stability of the global economy.
• Trade Agreements enable States or economies to effectively form stable relations through establishing rules and disciplines.
He mentioned that the Philippine Law also supports trade and open economy. The Supreme Court clarified that “while the Constitution indeed mandates a bias in favor of Filipino goods, services, labor and enterprises, at the same time, it recognizes the need for business exchange with the rest of the world on the bases of equality and reciprocity and limits protection of Filipino enterprises only against foreign competition and trade practices that are unfair."
Additionally, the Supreme Court noted, “fundamental law encourages industries that are competitive in both domestic and foreign markets, thereby demonstrating a clear policy against a sheltered domestic trade environment, but one in favor of the gradual development of robust industries that can compete with the best in the foreign markets. Indeed, Filipino managers and Filipino enterprises have shown capability and tenacity to compete internationally.”
(Tañada vs. Angara, G.R. No. 118295. May 2, 1997)
Asec Gepty defines ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) as a comprehensive FTA covering, among others, trade in goods, services, investment, and economic cooperation. It aims to progressively liberalize and facilitate trade among the Parties through:
- progressive elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers;
- progressive liberalization of trade in services with substantial sectoral coverage;
- facilitation promotion and enhancement of investment opportunities through a favorable investment environment; and,
- establishment of a cooperative framework for strengthening, diversifying and enhancing trade, investment and economic links among the Parties.
“As a single undertaking initiative, the Agreement contains 18 chapters and several annexes.”
Let us explore some of these chapters. Some of the Key Commitments in AANZFTA have chapters on Goods, Rules of Origin, Customs Procedures, Services, etc.
Under Goods, the key commitment is to reduce or eliminate customs duties in accordance with its schedule of tariff commitments. Rules of Origin provides the rules that will determine the originating status of goods produced within the AANZFTA Parties. Under Customs Procedures, the key commitments are to improve predictability, consistency and transparency in the application of customs laws and administrative procedures to ensure more efficient administration, and faster clearance of goods.
The chapter on Investment contains a framework to cover the treatment of investment and investment protection. Under E-Commerce, the key commitments are to adopt or maintain measures based on international norms to provide for electronic authentication, and to provide protection for consumers using e-commerce. The key commitments involved in competition recognises the importance of cooperation in the promotion of competition, economic efficiency, consumer welfare and curtailment of anti-competitive practices.
How can the Philippines benefit from AANZFTA? Here are important key points.
• With the aim of providing market access for all Parties, the AANZFTA has served as a mechanism for ASEAN, Australia, and New Zealand to liberalize Trade in Goods.
• Roughly, 94.42% of Philippine imports from AANZFTA Parties enjoy 0% tariff rates, while all Philippine exports to Australia and New Zealand enjoy 0% preferential tariff rate.
• The AANZFTA also incorporates the principles of liberalizing Trade in Services especially for market access, which could also encourage investors to enter in the region, especially for the Philippines.
• Of the 57 services sectors offered by the Philippines based on the W/120 Services Sectoral Classification List of 1991, 13 sectors under Mode 1 (Cross-Border Supply of Services) have been opened to Australia and New Zealand. Meanwhile, 33 sectors under Mode 3 (Commercial Presence of Service Supplier) are allowed to have more than 51% Foreign Equity.
How is the Philippine mining industry connected with the open economy strategies of AANZFTA?
Primarily, Australia recognizes the countries in South and East Asia as instrumental in mutual success and prosperity for the mining sector.
The Australian government published “Australian Mining: New Frontiers, South and East Asia”. This is a guide for Australian trade negotiators and mining and METS* businesses to leverage trade and investment opportunities in emerging markets across Asia. (METS refers to Mining equipment, technology and services.) This guide is a Trade Agenda from the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA).
“New frontiers: South and East Asia” is a research study by Mike Adams, Nicolas Brown and Ron Wickes, the partners of Trading Nation Consulting, for the Minerals Council of Australia. The New Frontiers study will produce a series of reports identifying opportunities and setting out an agenda for Australian trade negotiators and mining and METS businesses to expand trade and investment links with emerging Asian economies.
On the Foreword of this document, David Byers, Interim Chief Executive of Minerals Council of Australia, recognises the importance of Southeast Asian countries in the Australian mining industry.
He wrote, “Emerging markets across South and East Asia are the new frontiers for Australia’s mining and METS sectors.” 
“Australia’s mining industry has contributed enormously to the nation’s prosperity through its export success and international engagement. Asia has been a large part of this story, from the opening up of trade with Japan in the post-war period, which built Australia’s export coal industry, to the China resources boom, which kept Australia growing through the Global Financial Crisis. Resources now account for over half of Australia’s total exports – and the vast bulk of these are to the countries of Asia.” 
“This story still has a long way to play out. As Asia’s economies continue to develop, there will be significant new opportunities for Australian mining. The opportunities lie not only in exporting minerals commodities to new markets but in leveraging the skills, technology and expertise of Australia’s world-leading mining industry. There will be scope for Australian mining companies to invest and work with local partners in developing these economies’ own resources. And there will be export opportunities for Australia’s mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector.” 
David Byers points out that realizing these benefits will require cooperation and engagement by the business and government in Australia in the region. “While the region’s economies are committed to open markets, there remains an array of impediments to mining and mining services trade.” 
Thank you to Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty of DTI and Atty Dennis A. Quintero of PABC.
 Gepty, Allan B. (18 July 2022). Webinar Presentation. “ASEAN-Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP): The Philippine Perspective”
 Adams, Mike; Brown, Nicolas; Wickes, Ron. “New frontiers: South and East Asia”
Infographics and Charts:
Credits to - Gepty, Allan B. (18 July 2022). Webinar Presentation. “ASEAN-Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP): The Philippine Perspective”
PH and AU’s Mateship and Bayanihan through ASEAN
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Marcelle P. Villegas - March 17, 2021
The Aftermath of the Carmen Copper Mine Landslide
After the tragic landslide that occurred at the open pit’s north wall at around 4:15 p.m. on Monday, 21 Dec. 2020, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7 ordered the immediate suspension of the mine operations in Carmen Copper Corporation (CCC). According to MGB’s report last 22 Dec. 2020 on their official website, they stated “Initial investigations revealed there was no mining activity in the area on that day.”  On that day, landslide debris fell on the water at the pit bottom. This has an elevation of 41m above sea level. The landslide created a tsunami-like wave that reached an elevation of 105m in the southern portion of the pit where the workers were located. On 22 Dec. 2020, four fatalities were recorded along with six missing.  Further on, an assessment of the area was conducted by Director Pacquito Melicor Jr. (DENR Central Visayas Regional Executive Director), Director Armando Malicse (MGB 7 Regional Director), MGB Region 7 team, and Mine Safety, Environment and Social Development Division. CCC and Toledo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management team continued their search and retrieval operations on a limited scale due to unstable condition. MGB 7 technical personnel continues its on-site inspection and investigation in accordance with R.A. 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995) and the DENR Administrative Order Nos. 2010-21 (Consolidated IRR of RA 7942) and 2000-98 (Mine Safety and Health Standards).  A list of names of workers who died was given by CCC to the Toledo Police Station Chief, Lt. Col. Junnel Caadlawon. The second list contains the names of those who are still missing.  Those who died from the landslide are the following: Junil S. Lagola, age 44, from Barangay Don Andres Soriano, leadman Ernesto G. Caspe, age 54, from Dasmamac, Lutopan, checker Juan M. Tapang, age 44, from Don Andres Soriano Village, heavy equipment operator Dionisio Labang, from barangay Uling, Naga, backhoe operator/Anseca Contractor Those who are still missing are the following: Jose B. Carpentero, age 31, from Barangay Biga, heavy equipment operator from Mine Services Department Jonwel S. Herediano, age 33, from Barangay Don Andres Soriano, pump operator Simeon B. Laconas, age 33, from Barangay Biga, leadman - mine services department John Paul L. Resuelo, age 27, from Barangay Biga, heavy equipment operator Renante F. Sepada, age 35, from Barangay Bagakay, pump operator Alfred C. Tautho, age 33, from Barangay Mainggit, welder Carmen Copper Corp. (CCC) expressed their support and commitment to provide free education until college and allowances to all the children of its employees who died or are still missing after the tragedy last December. Based on a press statement of the company last 27 Dec. 2020, they have provided various forms of financial and other assistance to the immediate families of its deceased workers.  Additionally, CCC also offered employment opportunities for the victims’ next of kin, spouse and children. “CCC has given the same attention to the immediate family of the missing CCC employees and will afford them of the same commitments CCC provided to the family of the deceased,” according to the company’s statement. CCC also extended support to the family of the contractor who was among the victims.  On 8 Feb. 2021, Toledo City Mayor, Hon. Marjorie Piczon-Perales along with Vice-Mayor Jay B. Go met the families of the victims at the open shed of the City Hall Garden to provide them with “ayuda” or financial assistance. This was posted on the Toledo City Public Information Office social media page. The mayor granted the families of deceased workers the amount of Php15 million. For the victims who are injured, they were given Php5 million. Additionally, they were all given food packs.  On 29 Jan. 2021, the Office of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go distributed assistance to the Toledo City residents who were affected by the landslide in CCC mine. This was held at the Carmen Copper Recreation Center, Toledo City, Cebu. During the distribution, 248 families received meals, financial assistance, food packs, vitamins, face masks and face shields. Senator Go also gave bicycles and shoes to selected recipients, and computer tablets for their children to be used for online classes. Health and safety protocols were strictly implemented to avoid the further spread of COVID-19. The Senator was not present during the distribution but he sent them a video message with words of encouragement.  Senator Go also offered assistance to those who needed major medical operations such as heart surgeries. He urged those in need of such medical attention to seek assistance from any of the Malasakit Centers in the province.  While the local and national government along with CCC are busy sending assistance to the families of the victims of the December landslide, mining industry in general received backlashes from various groups who believe that the deaths and injuries could have been prevented. Barely a month before the landslide, there had been reports from residents of Barangay Biga in Toledo City who claim they warned officials of the MGB Central Visayas and CCC as well about large cracks in the village prior to the landslide. However, they said that their appeal was not properly addressed.  Biga Barangay Captian Pedro Sepada Jr. told a local newspaper in Cebu last 29 Dec. 2020 that prior to the landslide, barangay officials called for an emergency consultative meeting on 26 Nov. 2020 with representatives of CCC, MGB 7 and Biga residents to talk about the possible measures to be done after the cracks were discovered. Sepada said that MGB 7 Director Armando Malicse and CCC Vice President for Safety, Ignas Alburo were present. No representative from the Toledo City government was present. Sepada noted that during the meeting, they were not given a concrete response or alternative solution by CCC or MGB to provide assurance to the residents that they will all be safe while mining operations are ongoing. But Sepada said that they were simply told by MGB 7 and CCC officials that their place remained safe.  According to the local news reports in Toledo City, residents now believe the huge cracks caused the fatal landslide. “It was only after the landslide last Dec. 21, that they declared our area to be unsafe within a radius of 600-meter distance from the pipeline of Carmen Copper. They now say it’s unsafe. What happened to their guarantee of safety before?”  Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said last December that they shall leave the investigation to MGB before implementing any course of action. She mentioned that she will leave it up to the MGB 7 to decide whether or not CCC has any liability. Garcia said, “The investigation is not our expertise nor is that our mandate. MGB has already issued a suspension of operations and MGB is going to undertake the investigation. So let’s put things in proper perspective. While the investigation is ongoing, perhaps it is best to wait for the results.”  “I am not taking any sides. I want to be as objective as possible. However, there are some personalities who are not as objective because they have their own interest in Carmen Copper. They want to control so that they can do business with Carmen Copper. This is a warning to those who want to make it difficult.” Garcia also noted that CCC mining operations have given so much to Toledo City in terms of employment and the city’s development. She said that a thorough investigation is needed in order to prevent those with “personal interest” in the mining operations of CCC from ruining the lives of so many people working there.  Garcia assured the Province will provide assistance and support to the families of miners who died and those who remain missing after the landslide.  Renester P. Suraltra, a college professor wrote a commentary last December on SunStar Cebu with the title “Toledo tragedy: The untold story”. He wrote, “Who is always responsible for any mining accident? Is it nature or man? Who is at fault? Is it the bad weather or the safety engineer?” “Accidents may happen in the workplace but it can also be avoided. We can’t discount the fact that accidents can happen because of unsafe supervision, lack of situation awareness, and failure to identify the potential threat. That’s the job of the safety engineer under the direction and supervision of sympathetic and responsible management. If workers are dying frequently then responsible mining is a big issue.” “There is another lesson to be learned in the Toledo mining tragedy. We should never compromise safety and security. We can’t always blame nature out of man’s folly. One should think that the mining industry provides short-term revenue but long-term harmful effect on nature and the environment. Life is much precious than copper and gold.”  Acknowledgement: Ryan Peter Vivo Penaranda for Cebuano to English translation from some news articles Reference:  Mines and Geosciences Bureau Press Release (22 Dec. 2020)."Carmen Copper Mine In-Pit Landslide Incident".  ANV (23 Dec. 2020). SunStar Cebu. "Listahan sa namatay, missing sa Carmen pit gipagawas".  WBS and PR (27 Dec. 2020). SunStar Cebu. "Carmen Copper Corp. commits to help landslide victims' families".  Toledo City Public Information Office Facebook Page (8 Feb. 2021). "Families of the victims of the land in Biga Pit Gitagaan ug ayuda in Toledo".  Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Facebook Page (31 Jan. 2021). "Hundreds of Toledo City, Cebu residents affected by a copper mine landslide receive assistance from Senator Bong Go".  Sabalo, Wenilyn (30 Dec. 2020). SunStar Cebu. "Biga chief claims please ignored before landslide". Retrieved from - https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1881418/Cebu/Local-News/Biga-chief-claims-pleas-ignored-before-landslide  Suralta, Renester P. (27 Dec. 2020). SunStar Cebu. "Tell it to SunStar: Toledo tragedy: The untold story". Retrieved from - https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1881194
Marcelle P. Villegas - March 17, 2021
First Offshore Magnetite Iron Mining in the PH
Last December, Apollo Global Capital’s (PSE: APL) subsidiary, JDVC Resources Corporation, announced that Department of Environment and Natural Resources granted them a permit to start the commercial operations of the country’s first offshore magnetite iron mining project. According to JDVC and APL consultant, Jun Herrera, the mining operations in Cagayan are expected to start by mid or end of February. He said that the first newly-built deep sea mining vessel arrived in Cagayan and needed to take shelter for now due to strong sea currents. In relation to this project, they assured the government that there will be minimal impact on the marine ecosystem as per the studies and survey conducted by a Singapore-based company. Their study shows that there is no coral or aquamarine life within the mining area which is located 150 meters below sea level. Herrera stated that three more vessels are expected to arrive this year. The vessel is capable of commercial extraction, sampling, testing and production of magnetite iron.  With regards to the apprehension of some residents of Ballesteros in Cagayan that this offshore mining operation will destroy the coral ecosystem, APL addressed the issue by stating that such assumption by the locals has no basis. APL stated last January, “We won’t even be mining in their waters. In the first place, our mining operation will be in the waters of Buguey and Gonzaga towns, and at a distance of over 14 kilometers. That’s more than two horizon lengths away from the shoreline.” Lazaro Ramos, a resident of Ballesteros, sent a formal complaint to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu. Ramos warned them of the possible “catastrophe” that the offshore mining will bring about should it resumes. He mentioned in comparison a study conducted by Craig Smith from the University of Hawaii regarding the ocean seabed in the NE Pacific abyssal waters. APL, however, contradicted this argument by Ramos and said that the study by Craig Smith is applicable to a different part of the ocean and not necessarily comparable with the mining site in Cagayan. “That’s a different part of the Pacific. It looks at the ocean bed more than 200 meters below sea level, whereas we can only go down to 150 meters with current technology. Moreover, the Smith study did not look at magnetite iron reserves. From the experience of countries like Indonesia, Japan and New Zealand, magnetite iron is known to be toxic to corals, fish and other aquamarine life.” Moreover, JDVC emphasised on the study results done by the Singapore-based survey company whom they commissioned to conduct a full “sea bottom profile” of its mining tenements off Cagayan. As mentioned, their study reveals no corals or aquamarine life in the area. APL also reported that they have done their part in coordinating with the locals and providing corporate social responsibility activities for the residents of Buguey and Gonzaga. “We’re proud to say that over 90 percent of the residents support us and are even anxious for us to get started.” According to Herrera, the municipalities of Aparri, Buguey and Gonzaga received funding from the Development Bank of the Philippines. These are the municipalities covered by the mining project. DBP grated JDVC a grant worth $8-million credit line for the magnetite iron mining project. Herrera said, “We have proven to them [DBP] that it’s environmentally safe.” He added, “The DBP loan has zero borrowings yet as of now, hence, our company remains to be zero debts and internally funded by our shareholders. The DBP loan will only kick off once we have the letter of credit presented to the bank for the discounting the letter of credit of export buyers, to obtain a 90-day working capital, to fund the production of the ordered iron ore.” This project is seen as profitable, because magnetite mining has a strong market globally. In China, for example, they consider the steel industry as their “roadmap for their economic recovery”. Herrera mentioned that JVDC is an ISO-certified company. This means that there is an assurance that they shall comply with environmental standards. With all these assurances of a promising mining project ahead, some still have apprehension about it, perhaps rooting down to past incidents. In November 2020, the Cagayan Valley region was greatly affected by the Super Typhoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses. The two simultaneous typhoons are classified as category-5 and category-4 tropical cyclones respectively. As an effect, the devastation was great marked by massive flooding in Isabela and Cagayan provinces.  The residents in those areas blame the National Irrigation Association (NIA) for the flood when they opened the floodgates of the nearby Magat Dam on the last minute. The two provinces were submerged in high waters as high as a two-storey building. NIA on the other hand firmly contradicted such claim and explained that the release of water from Magat Dam was not the main cause of flooding. NIA points out that proper and sufficient warnings were given to those communities in low-lying areas. Additionally, they stated that the volume of water released was only 25% of the carrying capacity of the Cagayan River. The river is the longest stream in the Philippines that serves as the catch basin of the nine provinces in three regions.  Aside from the two typhoons, a second issue related with the river was about the illegal magnetite mining at the mouth of the Cagayan River in the municipality of Aparri. The provincial board of Cagayan appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte in 2019 to stop the dredging operations of Pacific Offshore Exploration, Inc. (POEI) due to potential threat to the environment and the livelihood of the locals. The Chinese company Zhong Hai Gravel Group headed by Dong Biao Su is POEI’s partner in that operation. The company was controversial recently after the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Coast Guard raided its Zhonhai 68 dredging vessel during a maritime security patrol off the Bataan coast. “Bureau of Customs are poised to issue a warrant of seizure and detention against the undocumented vessel.” However, the Chinese Embassy in Manila claimed that the vessel is technically non-Chinese because it is registered under an African flag of convenience.  Currently, JDVC Resources Corp. is the first and only company that was granted a declaration of mining project feasibility by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to extract magnetite sand and other minerals in Cagayan. In response to Cagayan’s decade-old black sand mining problem, the launching of Cagayan River Rehabilitation Project last February 2 is seen to solve the problem. DENR stated early in February that mining regulations will strictly monitor the extraction of magnetite or black sand in the coastal waters and rivers of Cagayan province.  With regards to APL’s/JDVC Resources Corp.’s offshore magnetite iron mining, MGB Director Wilfredo Monaco stated the project has gone through an environmental impact assessment system processes and the company has secured an environmental clearance certificate (ECC) from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).  “JDVC has undergone environmental impact assessment and the company was issued an ECC, which means environmental issues have been considered by the EMB,” Moncano stated. Magnetite or black sand mining is supposed to be banned in the Philippines, but Moncano explained that the extraction of the said mineral offshore is allowed. He said, “Mining in shoreline is prohibited but offshore mining is allowed. If it is at least 1,500 meters from the shoreline going out to the sea, it is allowed.” He also assured that the company’s operation will be monitored by the MGB and EMB, that in case of any destruction or damage to the coastal or marine ecosystem by JDVC Resources Corp., there will be a corresponding penalty under the mining law. “What is important is that the JDVC will not cause damage to the coastal or marine ecosystem,” he said. As for mining in rivers like in the Cagayan River, it is also allowed as long as the primary purpose of the project is river rehabilitation or restoration. One example is their plan to extract some 7 million metric tons of sand to remove three of the 19 sandbars along is stretch. Moncano said that the DENR-MGB will also monitor the dredging operations because while the activity is primarily flood mitigation, the minerals to be extracted include magnetite sand.  Moncano stated, “Black sand mining is also part of the purposes that’s why we will assess the mineral content of the river channel. If the magnetite sand contained surpasses the threshold of 6 percent, we will charge the company of 4-percent excise tax.” He said that every shipment will undergo mineral assessment. (--Marcelle P. Villegas, PRJ) References:  Flores, Alena Mae S. (31 Jan. 2021). Manila Standard. "Apollo Global announces subsidiary’s start of magnetite mining operations in Cagayan".  Gamboa, J. Albert (5 Feb. 2021). Business World. "Building back better in Cagayan Valley".  Mayuga, Jonathan L. (4 Feb. 2021). Business Mirror. "MGB exec vows to keep tabs of Cagayan River magnetite quarry operations set to start in February".
Marcelle P. Villegas - March 12, 2019
How wars and historical events affected the mining industry
By Marcelle P. Villegas For the past centuries, the mining industry in the Philippines was greatly affected by the changes of government or colonisers, events around the world and more. It seems that whenever there is war, there is also a rise in the demand in certain mineral resources or a fall in the production rate of some minerals. August is History Month in the Philippines as promoted by Government and Education sectors. The Philippines is rich in natural resources, cultural heritage and more noticeably, we are rich in history which brought progress or hindrance in economic growth through the years. Last August, during the Philippine Mining and Exploration Association (PMEA) Monthly Membership Meeting, one of the keynote speakers is Mr Hernulfo “Nonoy” Ruelo, Geologist Consultant. The title of his presentation is “Copper-Gold Discoveries and Mine in the Philippines - Understanding the Past, in order to make sense of the Current, and the Future”. It was a well-researched report and analysis on how historical events, like wars or change in leaders, affected the mining sector and the socio-economic status of the country. The presentation takes us back in time with some rare vintage photos from the past. During the pre-Spanish Period, the earliest use of metal in the Philippines by our Filipino ancestors was the use of copper for ornamentation, not for tools or currency. Other metals used were gold and tumbaga (copper alloyed with gold). “Gold was the major form of ‘currency’ among the early Filipinos and one of the first things they [ancestors] taught their children was the knowledge of gold and the weights with which they measured.” (From the book by Evelyn J. Caballero, 1996. “Gold from the Gods: Traditional small-scale miners in the Philippines”. Giraffe Books, Quezon City.( p 196 and 263) On note, the pre-colonial mining methods had no environmental impact on land, water, air and people. Pre-Spanish Period Mining in the Philippines started in the 3rd century when gold was traded with China and the Javanese empire where the height of this trade was during 12th to 14th century. The Chinese were the first foreign miners. Gold is both a commodity and a medium of exchange. When the Spaniards arrived in the 1521, gold was already being mined, traded and used as jewelry or ornamentation by the native Filipinos. In fact, 16th century Filipino noblemen were decked in gold. Colonial Period Under Spain 1500s - 1898: Paracale and Cordillera were the oldest goldfields. From 1500s - 1700s, gold was one of the tributes collected by the Spanish government and given to the King of Spain. In 1583 and 1595, an expedition was sent to mine in Cordillera but was a failure due to the resistance of the Igorots. “Gold mining before the coming of the Americans was primarily in the hands of enterprises organized in the Philippines by Spaniards and Chinese mestizos and Filipinos, with a few other companies trying, without success, to produce commercially.” (Ref. - Wirkus 1974) In 1600 to 1700, about 10,000 ounces of gold per annum were shipped to Spain, and the gold shipments to Spain increased from 1800 to 1895. For copper, the Spaniards opened the first copper mine in the country in 1842, called the Carawisan copper mine in Antique province. From 1864 to 1874, the Contrabro-Filipino Company operated Mankayan Copper Mine. Gold mining made its comeback in commerce in 1892 where concessions to foreigners were first granted. The British explorer, Frank Karuth of Philippine Mineral Syndicate, led the commercial-scale hard-rock and alluvial gold operations in Paracale District until 1895. (Ref. - Chaput 1987) Philippine Revolution 1896 – 1902: With the rise of the Philippine revolt against Spain, in 1896, mining operations at Paracale dwindled until 1902 when the Filipino-American War ended. The Organic Act of 1902 was created which organized companies, issued patents, and established the Geological & Mining Science Department. By 1927, gold was the third best export commodity and initiated by the Philippine (Manila) Stock Exchange. In the following years, the Mining Act of 1935 was released (Commonwealth Act 137) which introduced the Regalian Doctrine, the concept of Mining Lease, and the establishment of Bureau of Mines. The Americans invested US$ 34.2M in gold production. Mining for copper was reopened in 1936, the same time when the Japanese savvy for copper was high and led to the ‘discovery’ of the first large porphyry copper deposit in the country. Commonwealth Period 1937 - 1941: This period in Philippine history was considered a golden era when Manila was highly modernised and was one of the most beautiful cities in Southeast Asia. In fact, in 1937, we had the best and well-equipped airport in the Southeast Asia, the Nielson Airport. (This is now Ayala Triangle Park in Makati City, and the original Nielson Tower is now “Blackbird” Restaurant.) Although this elegant airport was primary used as an aviation school, it also paved the way for trade and commerce for foreign investors. Philippine Airline made its first commercial flight in 1941, from Nielson Airport to Baguio. The Philippines was the largest gold producer in Asia and second only to California in world production. During the American period, 9 million oz of gold was produced from 1906 – 1941. Japanese Occupation 1942 – 1945: Being a colony of United States of America, the Philippines got itself involved in war against the Japanese who invaded Manila in 1942. The Japanese took over Lepanto and the Hixbar mines (Rapu-rapu) and was able to mine and extract 11,000 tonnes of copper. No gold production was recorded. With the aggressive strategies of conquering their neighboring countries, Japan was unstoppable that time in their collection of natural resources that were needed to fuel their warships and planes and the production of weapons. Battleships Musashi and Yamato where the two giants in naval power that made Japan feared by other nations. The two battleships were defeated though in the Philippines during the Battle in Leyte Gulf in October 1945 which paved the way to the Liberation of Manila and eventually the whole country. Post-war Reconstruction 1946 – 1954: Those post-war years were hard times for all war-torn countries. However, with the need for repairs infrastructure after WWII, there was an increase in the global demand for copper. Some gold mines in the Philippines were rehabilitated but the problems were lack of capital and low market demand. Copper production re-started in 1947. Since Manila was the ground zero and battlefield of the war that ended WWII in the Pacific (Battle of Manila in 1945), there were serious damages in the country’s economy and on the mining industry. Korean War 1954 – 1960: For the Filipino soldiers who fought the Japanese during WWII, the Korean War was the first time for them to fight a battle in a foreign land. Although this war affected Southeast Asia directly, the gold prices maintained. However, in mid 1950s, the gold mines collapsed due to a recession period. The copper price rose slight due to high world demand. More Philippine copper mines opened. Vietnam War 1960-1975: In 1972, U.S. President Nixon took dollar off the gold standard. It was fixed at $35 since 1934, but gold prices are allowed to float free which devalued dollar to $38. In 1973, world gold price jumped from $38 to $120. World copper rate hit high at $0.90 in 1974. World copper mine production was at its peak. Martial Law 1972 - 1986: During Martial Law in the Philippines, copper price trended upward where the country’s copper production continued and boomed in 1980 where it reached its peak. It was in 1980 when Philippine copper production was recorded the highest at 306 Kt. However, the World Oil Crisis in 1973 - 1980 brought about a decline in copper demand. World Recession in 1982 – 1984 pulled down the copper prices. Philippine inflation devalued the Philippine peso and there was an increase in production costs, materials and equipment. The Global recession resulted in a decline in copper demand. The Philippine gold production was sustained and gold prices surged from 1978 to 1980. The modern Gold Bloom in 1980s brought about the rise of unregulated Small Scale Mining. In summary, the explanatory variables of growth and decline in PH copper industry in the 1950s-1980s are: - For Copper resources: risk capital or investments, development in the world’s copper market, technology, human capital in mining, domestic social, legal, and political environment . - For the gold industry: gold resources, competition, commodity price, production costs, technology (bulk mining, milling, treatment), damages – natural & man-made disasters (Reference). T.M. Santos 2001 . Growth of Copper Production: Determinants and Empirical Evidence. Social Science Diliman, July-December 2001. 2:2, 1-49.) There were other historical events in the Philippines that followed like: EDSA Revolution: 1986-1992 - gold averaged $381, copper $1.02 – There was investment uncertainty and several mines closed. New mining laws were crafted like the 1991 RA 7076 (Small Scale Mining Act). The 1987 Constitution replaced Leasehold into Agreements system. From 1990s – 2004, there was collapse of the local mining industry. However from 2004 – 2009, there was a revitalization of the mining industry with EO 270 National Policy Agenda – Mineral Action Plan. Gold price surged from $410 to $873. Copper production hit lowest in 2004 at 16 Kt since 1957. The year 2005 brought global gold boom where Philippine gold-copper mines had expansion and reopening. The Aquino Administration from 2010-2016 was within the Global Mining Boom period (2010 - 2013). It was a successful period for Philippine mine exploration, prospect drill-testing, and resource evaluation drilling. In conclusion, Mr Ruelo presented a list of challenges that miners will need to face at the present time, namely: - Fewer outcropping “easy-to-find” deposits are now left except in high-risk and “inaccessible” areas. - Current mining operations will encounter increasing real costs (labor, materials, energy, environmental, community impact) that will affect production. - The next generation of lower-grade copper/gold projects require significantly higher metal prices to justify development. - We need to discover high-quality or better gold/copper resources, even deeper ones that can be economically mined – e.g. in greenfields and brownfields.
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Philippine Resources - September 27, 2022
PH-EITI holds first meeting under Marcos admin, approves plan to improve multi-stakeholder engagement in the extractives
Photo credit: PH-EITI The Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI) convened its first Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) meeting under the Marcos administration on Friday (September 16), two weeks after the country reaffirmed its commitment to implement the EITI. EITI is the global standard for transparency and accountability in the oil, gas, and mining sectors. The MSG – the body that governs EITI implementation in the country – is chaired by the Department of Finance (DOF) and composed of representatives from government, industry, and civil society. The government began implementing the EITI in 2013 pursuant to Section 14 of Executive Order No. 79, s. 2012 and Executive Order No. 147, s. 2013 that created the PH-EITI. “This meeting demonstrates the government’s continuing commitment to improve transparency and accountability in the extractive industries,” said Finance Undersecretary and PH-EITI Focal Person and Chair Cielo Magno. To improve resource governance, the MSG agreed to strengthen spaces for multi-stakeholder participation and advocate for more spaces along the extractive industry value chain. The group also agreed to include an MSG report on the status of civic engagement in the annual country report. The MSG also discussed remaining initiatives for 2022, including the production of the FY 2021 PH-EITI Country Report, the 2022 National Conference, and a planned visit of EITI Chair and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark to the Philippines in November 2022. The PH-EITI publishes independently reconciled data on oil, gas, coal, and mineral resources through an annual and comprehensive country report. To date, the PH-EITI has produced seven country reports, reconciling over P362.5 billion in government revenues from extractive projects from 2012 to 2019. Aside from disclosing extractives data to inform research and policy recommendations, the PH-EITI also provides space for multi-stakeholder participation in resource governance. Article courtesy of the Department of Finance
Philippine Resources - September 27, 2022
Marcos admin commits to transparency and good governance in the extractive industries
Photo credit: EITI / CC BY-SA The Marcos administration demonstrated its commitment to pursue transparency in natural resource governance by rejoining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and enabling the continued development of the mining sector. In a letter to EITI Chair and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno cited the value of good governance and anti-corruption measures in maximizing the extractive sector’s contribution to resource mobilization and sustainable economic growth. EITI will complement the administration’s agenda on transparency and accountability. “We welcome the opportunity to re-engage in EITI. We also commend the progress of the EITI Board in reviewing the validation standard and making it more relevant to implementing countries. We believe that EITI is an important tool for resource-rich countries like the Philippines to improve transparency and increase accountability in the management and governance of the extractive industries,” said Secretary Diokno. Secretary Diokno said that other government agencies, as well as industry and civil society stakeholders who have been actively implementing EITI in the country, are supportive of the move to rejoin the global initiative. On June 20, 2022, the Philippines through the Department of Finance (DOF) withdrew its participation in the EITI over concerns on metrics and procedures used for assessing country compliance with the international organization’s transparency requirements. In an August 23, 2022 letter, EITI Chair Helen Clark invited Secretary Diokno to re-state the country’s commitment to the EITI on behalf of the Marcos administration and build on the progress that the Philippines has achieved in the past nine years. The PH-EITI multi-stakeholder group is chaired by the DOF and is composed of representatives from government, industry, and civil society. The government began implementing the EITI in 2013 pursuant to Section 14 of Executive Order No. 79, s. 2012 and Executive Order No. 147, s. 2013 that created the Philippine EITI (PH-EITI). Annual disclosure of contracts, financial, economic, social and environmental data is mandatory for extractive industries pursuant to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017-07. To date, the PH-EITI has produced seven country reports, covering data from mining, oil, gas, and coal industries and reconciling over P362.5 billion in government revenues from extractive projects from 2012 to 2019. In 2017, the Philippines was recognized by the EITI as the first among 50 plus countries in the world to have fully complied with the 2016 EITI Standard. The EITI updates its standard every three years and subjects member countries to validation to ascertain their compliance. Secretary Diokno said that the Marcos administration is committed to engage and unite various stakeholders in pursuing good governance and policy reforms in the country. “Rest assured that we remain committed to pursuing good governance in the extractive sector,” said Secretary Diokno. Article courtesy of the Department of Finance
Philippine Resources - September 26, 2022
Metro Manila Subway project nominated for int’l digital awards
Artist rendering of the Metro Manila Subway (Photo courtesy of DOTr) The Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) has been named as one of the finalists at the 2022 Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure for the best use of infrastructure software to save both time and money. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the general consultant for the MMSP Phase 1, the Japanese consortium Oriental Consultants Global (OC Global), developed a common digital engineering system and a “single source of truth” using ProjectWise and ComplyPro -- both programs by Bentley Software Inc. The MMSP, the DOTr said, presented communication and coordination challenges that other software programs failed to address. “The project team at OC Global realized that the implementation of collaborative BIM workflows, proactive risk management, and cost monitoring would require a connected data environment to be established,” it said. The system developed by OC Global for the MMSP enabled real-time data sharing that optimized collaboration -- saving an estimated 5,000 resource hours within the project’s first six months. “Combined with SYNCHRO for construction simulation, Bentley’s integrated technology solution identified and resolved 50 clashes, eliminating rework, shortening the project schedule, and saving costs. The successful BIM (Building Information Modeling) implementation has already achieved a return of investment of over USD600,000,” it said. The Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure is an annual event meant to honor Bentley software users for advancing infrastructure design, construction, and operations worldwide. The event’s finalists are deemed to demonstrate “excellence and digital advancements” in their respective award categories. The award winners will be announced during the program’s main event in London on Nov. 15. By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
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