ECCP Launched the 1st Philippine Natural Resources Development Forum
By Marcelle P. Villegas
26 April 2019 - The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) organized and launched the 1st Philippine Natural Resources Development Forum at the Marriott Hotel Manila. The forum’s theme was “Harnessing Natural Resources for Inclusiveness and Sustainable Development”.
ECCP describes the current status of the Philippine mining industry:
“The mining industry in the Philippines is a major economic activity but remains operating below potential. There is a considerable anti-mining sentiment in the country especially at the subnational levels where environmental impact and displacement of indigenous peoples caused by mining operations have been the focus of much debate. Small-scale mining is also contentious, due to poor regulations and overlapping policies between national and local government. The ECCP believes that the contribution to national development can be further enhanced through better regulatory and enabling policies, best practices in value sharing, environment-friendly technologies and socially responsible investments.” 
According to ECCP, the objective of the 1st Philippine Natural Resources Development Forum intends to convene decision makers and other key stakeholders from the Mining (Metallic and Non-metallic subsectors) as well as Upstream Oil & Gas, Coal subsectors, to discuss challenges, opportunities, policy reforms and best practices in harnessing the country’s natural resources and their contribution to sustainable development. 
Present during the event were key players in the mineral resources industry from the public and private sectors. There were also participants and attendees from civil society organisations and academic groups. The forum discussed the latest issues and challenges being faced by the mining industry in the Philippines. The forum and its speakers thoroughly enumerated the many ways that the industry has contributed to the Philippine economic and social development. The forum also covered discussions on good governance, environmental management within a mining operation, global standards and sustainable mining practices.
The forum had four sessions namely: Contribution to National, Local and Community Development, Global Standards in Enhancing Inclusion along the Value Chain, Good Practices in Responsible Natural Resource Management and Inclusive Value Chain, and Unlocking Future Growth Opportunities.
The Welcome Address was given by Mr Nabil Francis, President of ECCP who emphasised the great potential and role of mining as an economic development catalyst in the country, for which proper information sharing, such as this forum, is key in solving the industry’s current problems. “While there is much to do in terms of regulation and improving doing business in this sector, it is very encouraging to see you all here today willing to listen, willing to learn, willing to contribute to this common goal,” he stated.
During the first session, Acting Director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Atty. Wilfredo Moncano, was a speaker and he discussed the current status of the mineral industry in the Philippines, including the approved mining tenements, the sector’s economic contribution, and current and proposed fiscal regime. 
On his keynote speech, Secretary Roy A. Cimatu of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR), mentioned five aspects of proper management of our mineral resources: (a) social; (b) environmental; (c) technological; (d) industrialization; and (e) exploration aspect.
The Secretary noted the importance of “social acceptability” in the industry, and treating host communities more than just as a legal or regulatory sense. In the environmental aspect of operations, he emphasised the need to pay more attention to waste production since mineral extraction is the largest global waste producer. The secretary expressed his discontent on the weak enforcement of environmental laws and mitigating measures, and implored the mining sector to cooperate and “strictly comply with environmental laws and standards.”
For this, the Secretary recommended the upgrade of monitoring system, standards, and practices in order to have better control on environmental issues. Secretary Cimatu stated that we should ensure availability of mineral resources for the future generation, thus we have to pursue sustainable exploration and extraction methods including but not limited to shifting to renewable energy.
Representatives of Quisumbing Torres, Atty. Gaston Perez de Tagle and Atty. Dennis Quintero were the moderators of the Open Forum. In one interaction with speakers from the public sector, one of the delegates was the international award-winning architect and urban planner, Arch. Felino “Jun” A. Palafox, Jr. He pointed out (through his question) that given that the Philippines is very much rich in natural resources, that the taxes generated from the operations is clearly a solution in alleviating poverty in Philippines.
During the four sessions of the forum, the other speakers were Usec. Bayani Agabin (Undersecretary for Legal Services, Department of Finance), Mr Jerome G. Cipriano (SGS Phils., Inc.), Mr Isidro C. Alcantara, Jr. (Chairman, Philippine Nickel Industry Association), Mr John Reinier Dizon (VP - Strategy and Business Development, Republic Cement Services, Inc.), Mr. Angelo Kris Marcos (Senior Contracting and Procurement Manager, Shell Philippines Exploration B.V.), Mr Michael Spence (Managing Partner of Southeast Asia Partners in Performance), Usec. Analiza Rebuelta-Teh (DENR), Mr Gerard Brimo (Chairman, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines), Mr Renato C. Sunico (Chair and President, Cement Manufacturers’ Asso. of the Phils.), Engr. Rufino Bomasang (Chairman, Petroleum Asso. of the Phils.), and more.
Some facts about the Philippine Mining Industry from ECCP:
~ 30 million hectares of land in the Philippines are possible areas for metallic minerals
~ 9 million hectares of land are identified as having high mineral potential
The Philippines is endowed with bountiful metallic and non-metallic mineral resources. It is the 5th most mineral-rich country in the world for gold, nickel, copper and chromite. The Philippines has the world’s largest copper-gold deposit in the world. It also exports some iron ore, chromium, zinc and silver, and produces oil and gas.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) estimates that the country has $840 billion worth of untapped mineral wealth.
Approximately 30 million hectares of land in the Philippines are possible areas for metallic minerals; nine million hectares of land are identified as having high mineral potential. The Philippines metal deposits is estimated at 21.5 billion metric tons and non-metallic minerals are at 19.3 billion metric tons.
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 Retrieved from https://www.eccp.com/events/?id=499