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Partnership Launched to Implement U.S.-funded Php280 Million Program for Philippine Critical Minerals Sector
November 17, 2023

(From left) Department of Interior and Local Government-Cordillera Administrative Region Assistant Regional Director Ruperto Maribbay, Jr., University of the Philippines Public Administration Foundation President Dr. Maria Fe Mendoza, Philippine Nickel Industry Association Chairperson Antonio Co, Anti-Red Tape Authority Director General Secretary Ernesto Perez, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, USAID Philippines Deputy Mission Director Rebekah Eubanks, Department of Finance Undersecretary Karlo Adriano, Board of Investments Executive Director Corazon Dichosa, and Chamber of Mines of the Philippines Executive Director Ronald Recidoro.

Baguio City, November 17, 2023—On November 16, the University of the Philippines Public Administration Foundation (UPPAF), in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Commercial Service, and five Philippine government agencies formalized a partnership to operationalize a U.S.-funded Php280 million ($5 million) technical assistance program to develop the Philippines’ critical minerals sector.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Partnership for Sustainable Development and Investment in Mineral Extraction and Processing was signed at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Baguio City by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director General Secretary Ernesto Perez, officials from the Department of Finance, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Trade and Industry, and Dr. Enrico Basilio, Chief of Party of USAID’s Regulatory Reform Support Program for National Development (RESPOND) Project.

The comprehensive program will support the Philippine government’s goal to become a major global value chain player in the clean energy sector by maximizing the country’s mineral potential and increasing value addition through minerals processing.  It includes technical support for streamlining permitting processes, advancing policy reforms, improving minimum governance standards, and helping facilitate investments in minerals processing and other downstream industries.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines and the Philippine Nickel Industry Association also signed the MoU to symbolize the importance of collaboration between government and the private sector.

USAID Philippines Deputy Mission Director Rebekah Eubanks and Dr. Maria Fe Mendoza, president of UPPAF—USAID’s implementing partner for the RESPOND Project and facilitator of the technical assistance program—witnessed the signing.

The launch of this partnership follows the meeting of President Joseph Biden and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Washington last May where the two leaders announced that the U.S. government, through USAID, will invest an additional Php280 million ($5 million) to support increased production of processed minerals and expand downstream mineral industries in the Philippines, such as the production of electric vehicle components and information and communications technologies equipment, while improving governance standards in the mining industry.

“We need to understand that what we do in the air, land, and sea environment really affects what we are able to achieve in this country,” DENR Secretary Yulo-Loyzaga said.  “This agreement manifests as well the kind of nexus governance that is needed in order to make best use of these resources that we have in terms of the minerals industry for the development of our country in an inclusive, resilient, and green and blue pathway.”

For his part, ARTA Director General Perez affirmed his agency’s commitment to working with partners such as USAID.  “We believe that by streamlining government processes, making regulations on mining fit-for-purpose, and ensuring the preservation of the environment while helping industry progress from the national down to the local level, we are helping our nation, particularly local communities grow and become centers of growth and development.”

“The U.S. government supports the Philippines’ aspiration to become a hub for minerals processing and the production of renewable energy systems, e-vehicles, and battery components,” USAID Deputy Mission Director Eubanks said at the signing ceremony.  “As your partner in prosperity, the U.S. government remains committed to supporting the Philippine government in pursuing a sustainable mining sector that contributes to inclusive and resilient economic growth for all Filipinos.”

During the event, U.S. Trade Development Agency (USTDA) Indo-Pacific Region Manager Tanvi Madhusudanan also provided updates on USTDA’s Php56 million ($1 million) grant to Eramen Minerals, Inc.  that will evaluate the technical and economic viability of developing a nickel processing facility at the company’s mine site in Zambales Province.  This feasibility study is expected to be completed by May 2024.