Gov’t urged to remove obstacles to extraction of ‘green’ minerals

POLICIES hindering the extraction of “green” minerals must be removed to facilitate the transition to renewable energy, an analyst said.

“Though the Philippines is known to have virtually untapped reserves for critical minerals such as copper and nickel, there is an urgency to expand capacity to harness these resources to supply the surging demand driven by the global transition to clean energy technologies,” Victor Andres C. Manhit, president of Stratbase ADR Institute, said in a Viber message.

The Philippines is under pressure to transition to more renewable sources of power as its sole commercial source of indigenous gas, the Malampaya field, is expected to be effectively depleted by 2027.

“To fully unlock the potential of the mining industry and effectively capitalize on the opportunities at hand, it’s crucial to ensure a stable and conducive policy environment,” Mr. Manhit said.

“This involves addressing regulatory roadblocks, streamlining permitting and regulation procedures for mining projects, enacting progressive and competitive mining fiscal regimes, harmonizing national and local mining taxation, and fostering an environment that attracts investors, among others,” he added.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said that global production levels of critical minerals are insufficient to limit global warming to 1.5°C under the Paris Agreement.

“Global investment in critical energy transition minerals is not keeping pace with escalating demand,” UNCTAD said in a study.

The Philippines seeks to expand its share of renewables in the power generation mix to 35% by 2030 and to 50% by 2040.

Nickel, cobalt, and copper are deemed essential for electric vehicles solar panels, and lithium-ion batteries.

“I am sure the market will adjust when they see the need for more raw materials, i.e., produce more when they see the market needs more,” Jose M. Layug, Jr., president of the Developers of Renewable Energy for Advancement, Inc., said via Viber.

However, Philippine resource extraction should not come at the expense of the environment or communities near mining sites, Green Thumb Coalition convener Jaybee Garganera said.

“We caution both the government and the industry that this push for the transition minerals does not create more ‘sacrifice zones’” — where communities and ecosystems are destroyed for private profit and government revenue in the name of meeting global demand for nickel, Mr. Garganera said in an e-mail. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz