Publication: Canadian Mining
Conference: Robert Friedland Praises Philippines
Richard Mills, Chairman
PHILIPPINES - Robert Friedland, chairman and CEO of IVANHOE MINES LTD.,
dismissed concerns about past setbacks the industry has suffered as he paid
tribute to the rebirth of the Philippine mining sector at the Philippine
Mining Conference in early February.
Armed with glowing statistics of
the vast size of the country's mineral wealth (Philippines is said to have
the world's 5th largest mineral reserves), Friedland spoke "from the
heart" about the opportunity, to 400 attending delegates from more than
"The Chinese dragon has a
fire in its belly and the only thing that can quench it is
metals." Friedland told the admiring crowd of senior mining people that
Philippines could be a major supplier to China's titanic mineral demands. He
said his company has recently placed investments in Philippines and is
"aggressively pursuing" others.
Friedland was speaking in
support of the recent Supreme Court ruling that will allow the government to
revive the mining sector, which once supplied close to 25% of the country's
Delegates such as Wayne
Spilsbury, Asia-Pacific general manager of exploration for TECK COMINCO
LTD., and Peter Leaman, global assessment leader for BHP BILLITON, said
investors felt positively bullish about the newly elected government's
commitment to support the mining sector. They added, however, that while
high-level support seems to be present, most investors are also wary of the
obstructions faced at the local government and community levels.
Philip Romualdez, head of a
local mining firm and chairman of the industry association, complained about
a recent law that "gives indigenous people veto rights over new mines
on ancestral lands—although no one is sure who counts as an indigenous
person in the Philippines, or where their lands lie." Despite the
serious concerns, delegates grumbled that they deal with similar local
issues in many countries and impediments can be worked on.
One company that jumped in early
and is prospering ahead of others is Lafayette (Philippines), a junior
Australian mining firm. The company is already 50% finished construction of
its production facility and expects to be pouring gold, copper and zinc by
the middle of this year. The project is a moderate one at Aus$57 million
total investment. The recent Supreme Court ruling has been rather good for
Lafayette shareholders. In the two-month period leading up to the
announcement, the stock climbed from 12 cents to a high of 20 cents shortly
Other projects are on the way
with a number of firms already in the feasibility phase. BHP Billiton and
ANGLO AMERICAN PLC have advanced exploration projects underway as do a
number of lesser-known firms.
Philippines has always been a
country of great potential. Let's hope this time it will live up to its
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