Big Chinese Mining Firms Set Eyes on Mindanao

Jul. 26, 2006 photo by Barry Ohaylan
China’s ambassador to the Philippines Li Jinjun (left) receives a briefing kit from Medco officer in charge Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana (center) and Secretary Jess Dureza during an investment briefing on Tuesday. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

By Germelina A. Lacorte

DAVAO CITY — Three big mining companies in China, including the largest state-owned JinChuan Group Ltd., are now aggressively pursuing talks with Philippine-based companies for possible investments in the countrys mining industry.

Li Jinjun, ambassador to the Philippines of the Peoples Republic of China (PROC), said Tuesday that the JinChuan Group is seriously pursuing talks with Philnico Industrial Corporation, which used to operate the shuttered Nonoc plant in Surigao while ZTE Corporation, which is based in Shenzhen, China, is talking with members of the Filipino-Chinese community for the possibility of joint-venture arrangements in mining.

Another Chinese company, CITIC Resources, is also talking with local partners, according to Li after an investment briefing on Mindanao and the East Asean Growth Area, the growth polygon composed of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines (BIMP), at the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCO) office here.

We have already established a strong presence in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. We plan to increase our presence in the Philippines, said Li. Even in Indonesia, where the situation is not so good, were putting much of our interests there.

Chinese investments in the Philippines, he said, is still relatively low compared to other areas in the Asean but China wanted to increase its share, particularly in the areas of agribusiness, mining, tourism, fisheries and infrastructures.

Theres not much information about how it is to invest in the Philippines and Chinese investors are also a bit wary of the peace situation, Li told reporters. Thats why its my duty to tell my own people about the real situation in Mindanao and encourage more companies to come.

Various environment groups, like Panalipdan and Church-based peoples organizations, are strongly opposing mining in Mindanao, which, they claim, will displace indigenous communities and rob the people of their livelihood, derived mainly from farming.

Jinchuan Group, which operates from northwest Chinas Jinchang, Gansu Province, produces roughly 90 percent of Chinas domestic nickel output, said Li. It is currently Chinas largest producer of nickel, cobalt and precious metals, he said.

The group is Chinas biggest state-owned nickel firm with huge expertise and experience on environment protection, said Li. He added that the company will take care of a number of social welfare projects, including medical and health care for affected communities, once they put up their investments here.

In her visit to Compostela Valley last month, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced that prospective Chinese investors will pour in an estimated US$4 billion as investments in mining in the country, particularly in the Nonoc nickel mines in Surigao and another one in Maco, Compostela Valley. (Germelina Lacorte with reports from Cheryll Fiel/

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