San Miguel's president eyes mining in RP

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 05 2008 04:27 PM | Updated as of Jun 06 2008 12:27 AM

Reuters

A company controlled by Ramon Ang, the president of food and drinks giant San Miguel is set to obtain permission for a large-scale mining project in the Philippines, a senior official said on Thursday.

Agusan Petroleum and Mining Corp. has applied for a financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA), a contract that allows 100-percent foreign ownership of a mine and is open to large projects with initial capital of at least $50 million.

"The application still needs the green light from the President. It is now in Malacanang (the presidential palace) for signing," said Horacio Ramos, the director of the mines and geosciences bureau.

Agusan Petroleum and Mining Corp., which applied for the permit last year without a foreign partner, will be the first company to win an FTAA since 1995 and only the third group to have such an agreement.

San Miguel itself has said it wants to diversify into heavy industry in the Philippines, including mining, but has yet to invest in any major projects.

After two decades in the wilderness, the Philippine mining sector is again attracting interest from home and abroad due to high metal prices, a pro-investor Supreme Court ruling in 2004 and the country's proximity to resource-hungry China.

But only around $1 billion has flowed into the minerals industry since 2004 due to land ownership disputes, communist and Muslim insurgencies and opposition from the influential Catholic Church.

The government is hoping this will surge to around $10 billion within the next three years.

Ang, a dealmaker, has personal interests in real estate, construction and engineering-related businesses.

Agusan Petroleum and Mining wants to tap a potentially rich iron and cooper reserve on the island of Mindoro, south of Manila.