PH 2012 gold output sinks over 50%
Philippine gold production i 2012 slid over 50% while copper rose marginally, the government’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said.
The MGB said gold production in the country, one of the most highly mineralized in Asia, dropped to 15,762 kilograms from 31,120 kgms in 2011.
The bureau blamed the fall in gold on a slump from small miners and traders selling to the country’s Central Bank after the government tightened the collection of taxes.
“The Bureau of Internal Revenue strictly imposed the collection of the 2% excise tax and 5% creditable withholding tax from small-scale gold producers/traders,” an MGB statement said.
Obliquely, the MGB also pointed to the executive order signed by President Benigno Aquino III for the sour, depressed mood in the mining industry which was not lifted until the government removed the moratorium on new mining applications.
The MGB quoted industry analysts as saying the order “set a new investment climate for mining in the country, posing a big challenge to the industry in the short- to medium-term.”
The bureau said another factor for lower gold output would include the accident in the country’s biggest gold miner Philex Mining Corp, which had to shut when a tailings pond spilled, and negative growth in miners Apex Mining Company Inc. and Philsaga Mining Corp.
Copper production for 2012 rose a modest 2.52% to 65,444 metric tons, from 63,835 tons. Nickel and chromite also posted gains in 2012, but not enough to cushion the impact of falling gold output.
Mining has become a controversial industry in the Philippines, with activists, the Catholic Church and several local officials trying to block the opening of some mines and challenging the constitutionality of the law in the country’s Supreme Court.
Aquino’s government has been criticized for its indecisive stance on the issue, seeking to curry favor with the anti-mining groups and mining companies/investors at the same time.
Note: Rene Pastor is with Philippine Commodities Digest, a weekly publication of New Jersey-based A & V Media that provides a comprehensive roundup of developments and trends in the country’s key farming and mining sectors. He is a freelance journalist who worked with the news agency Reuters for nearly 23 years. He graduated with a Masters degree in International Affairs from the New School in New York city and received a bachelor of arts in Communications from the Ateneo de Manila University. Rene is also a lecturer at Middlesex County College in Edison, New Jersey.