Aquino: Philippines to have clear mining policy

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — President Benigno Aquino III says the Philippine government will have a clear-cut policy on its mining industry by next month amid complaints from foreigners that inconsistent rules have stymied investments.

The Philippines ranks fifth in the world for mineral reserves, including large reserves of gold and copper. But mining accounted for only about 1 percent of gross domestic product last year, with total production at $1.5 billion.

Aquino, who spoke Thursday before foreign chambers of commerce, said he would receive a commissioned report by mid-February with recommendations on needed mining policies.

Businessmen welcomed Aquino's promise but said they would have to wait and see the new policies and how they are implemented.

Julian Payne, President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the country has tremendous mining potential but that the government's current policy is confusing to businessmen.

John Ridsdel, president of the mining company TVI Minerals Processing Inc. told the conference, that there is a lack of consistency between national government and local government policies, and that the approval process for mining permits is cumbersome and needs to be streamlined.

He also said the government should crack down on illegal and dangerous small-scale mining, which involves an estimated $43 billion in illegal production, represents a huge loss of taxes and causes environmental damage.

Aquino said the government is trying to find the balance between protecting the environment and maximizing gains from mining.

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