Mineral processing seen key to unlocking EV investments

DOMESTIC mineral processing will be critical to  attracting more investment in electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries, according to Secretary Frederick D. Go, the Palace’s chief investment adviser

Mr. Go, who heads the Office of the Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs (OSAPIEA), said mineral processing will enable Philippine ambitions to become a hub for the manufacturing of electric vehicles and components.

“Instead of just focusing on exploration, or the exploitation of the minerals, we should really be looking at attracting investment in the downstream process,” he said during the Philippine Economic Briefing on Monday.

“In a perfect world, the dream, I suppose, of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the whole government is that we move up from raw nickel to processed nickel to electric batteries and then electric vehicles,” Mr. Go said.

He noted that the Philippines has yet to fully utilize its mineral reserves. “We are now the largest exporter of raw nickel ore to the world. And we supposedly have the largest mine by copper deposits here in the Philippines, and this can increase the value of our exports by perhaps 10 times.”

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau reported that Philippine metal production by value rose 4.8% to P249.05 billion in 2023.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is completing its geomapping of the country’s natural resources as well as streamlining the approval of mining permits, according to Mr. Go.

“A lot of the mining investors, when they come in, are taking a huge risk not knowing what minerals they can find underneath the soil,” he said.

Mr. Go also cited the need to shorten the approval of mining permits to two to three years from the current five to seven years.

The proposed rationalization of the mining fiscal regime was approved at the House of Representatives on third and final reading in September.

The proposal seeks to impose margin-based royalties and a windfall profit tax on mining companies. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz