Barbers urges gov’t to use income from mining for COVID-19 response
Updated: Aug 18
A Mindanao congressman on Thursday urged the government to utilize income from local metallic and non-metallic mining operations as a funding source for the government’s coronavirus pandemic response.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, in his privilege speech, said the industry is “the only answer to our economic woes… that could pay off all the debts incurred now and stimulate growth in our economy.”
Citing data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Barbers said the country has an estimated $840 billion worth of untapped mineral wealth.
“Those estimates by the MGB were made eight years ago… And the continuing rise in the worldwide prices of precious metals, particularly gold, makes the value of our untapped minerals increase to trillions of dollars,” he said.
Barbers said the current international trading price of gold had already reached more than $2,000 per ounce, pointing out that the country has “millions upon millions of ounces of gold deposits.”
“Aside from gold, we also have lots of other minerals and precious metals. Just imagine the prosperity that we have been missing all this time,” Barbers said.
Barbers said that as of September 2016, there are about 40 metallic mines and 62 non-metallic mines operating in the country, and these mining companies have already committed P13.1 billion for the development of their host and neighbouring communities under their Social Development and Management Programs.
Further, citing MGB’s 2016 data, Barbers said that the industry employs 236,000 workers in the country, with a 0.6 percent contribution to the country’s GDP.