Joey Salceda welcomes lifting of moratorium on new mining deals

By Billy Begas

House Committee on Ways and Means chairperson and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda is confident that new mining agreements will pave the way for the country’s bid for competitiveness in the electric vehicle and renewable energy battery sector.

Salceda said the lifting of moratorium on new mining agreements will also help in the country’s long-term economic recovery “especially if we can set up the ground rules and the tax regime for mining well.”

The Philippines has large reserves of nickel and copper, materials that are critical inputs in batteries used in electric vehicles, he pointed out.

What is needed, Salceda said is for the Philippines to develop a plan to aggressively play a role in developing inputs to electric vehicles using its mineral resources.

Salceda explained that in the past, renewable energy was not always relied upon. “When there’s no wind, there is little wind-powered energy supply. Solar energy requires consistent sunlight, and so on.

But with powerful battery technology, driven by nickel and cobalt—another Philippine product, Salceda said renewable energy can be stored better.

“We now have the power and the prospects to create millions of jobs in renewable energy, battery manufacturing, sustainable mining, and related sectors. This will be a key driver of economic recovery post-COVID, but we have to be very wise with our policies,” Salceda added.

He said some 1.3 million jobs await the country in nickel-related industries in the next 10 years.

“The world appears to see that this is the future. Top nickel buyer and electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla is already larger in market cap than all other major car manufacturers combined. Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers are also rising. Nickel will be very big, and as one of the world’s largest producers of nickel, we will be very important, if we will be wise,” he pointed out.

Salceda recommended five key policies that Congress and the executive have to work together on to ensure that the benefits of the industry are maximized.

– the fiscal regime on mining has to be enacted to remove tax uncertainty

– establish a counter-cyclical mining trust fund that will accumulate revenues during commodity booms, and distribute aid to mining communities during commodity busts

– secure energy supply since mining has very high energy requirements

– encourage value-added to maximize the benefits of extractive industry similar to the Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone (LEIZ) roadmap, accompanied by the Copper Industry Development Roadmap

– invest in research and development to find new ways to create value in mining

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