US keen to work with PH on mineral processing, renewables

By: Philippine Resources February 05, 2024

US Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose Fernandez in a press briefing at the residence of the US Ambassador in Makati City on Tuesday (Jan. 30, 2024). Fernandez said the US government is keen on working with the Philippines in the sectors of mineral processing and renewables. (PNA Photo by Kris M. Crismundo)

The United States (US) government has offered its support to the Philippines in developing the country’s mineral processing and renewable energy (RE) sectors.

US Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose Fernandez said in an interview here Tuesday that the US government can help the Marcos administration to engage with countries under the Mineral Security Partnership (MSP), a collaboration of 13 countries and the European Union to catalyze investments in responsible critical supply chains across the world.

Fernandez said the US government can organize video conferences with companies in MSP countries where the Philippine government can present to potential investors the kind of investments it needs for the industry.

“It’s a way for us to facilitate engagement by the Philippine government and the mining companies, mining investors out there,” the visiting US official said.

He shared that the MSP currently has “over half a dozen projects,” not only in mining but on the processing side, as well.

Fernandez said with the interest of US companies that are already here, the US government will continue working with the concerned agencies in the country to facilitate their investments here.

“We are working with the Philippines and helping them to create an enabling environment for these types of investments. A regulatory environment that is modern, and that includes the best practices out there,” he added.

Aside from processing critical minerals, Fernandez said the US government is keen to support the Philippines in increasing its RE capacity.

Fernandez had a meeting with the Department of Energy during his visit here. He conveyed that the Development Financing Corp. can be a source of funding for RE projects and infrastructure in the Philippines.

PH role in clean energy goals

The US official highlighted that the Philippines has a critical role to play in achieving clean energy goals globally, being a country with rich natural resources.

“For us to reach our clean energy goals by 2050, we’re going to need exponentially more critical minerals that we use today,” Fernandez said.

Citing data from the International Energy Agency, Fernandez said to shift to clean energy by 2050, the global market needs 42 times the amount of lithium, 20 times the amount of manganese, and 20 times the amount of cobalt.

“Those kinds of numbers mean that unless we’re able to find them, our clean energy transition will be at risk,” Fernandez added.

The Philippines is host to 5 percent of global nickel reserves and 4 percent of global cobalt reserves, the mineral resources used for producing batteries. Batteries are needed to store power from RE sources such as solar, wind, and hydro among others.

“Right now, most of these critical minerals are produced by or mined or processed by one or two countries, one of them is China… And it’s not a question of China. Something that Covid taught us is that we cannot depend on one supplier for anything,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez also discussed these sectors with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Mineral processing is one of the five priority sectors of the DTI under its Make It Happen in the Philippines campaign. By Kris Crismundo


Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency

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