“Grossly undervalued” nickel ores are being exported by mining companies operating in the country, a geology expert revealed, as he called on the government and the private sector to explore the economic potential of mining scandium, a mineral also found in nickel ores, and other rare earth elements.
Carlo A. Arcilla, director of the University of the Philippines National Institute of Geological Sciences in Diliman, said it is high time that the Philippine government and the private sector explored the economic potential of extracting scandium and other rare earth elements.
He said the Department of Science and Technology had agreed to initially fund a P10-million research to identify scandium-rich areas in the Philippines. The target of the study, he said, is to determine the level of scandium concentrates, which, he said, will likely be a “game changer” for nickel-mining companies.
Arcilla, currently president of Solid Earth Sciences of Asia Oceana Geosciences Society, said many rare elements, aside from scandium, are often overlooked, because mining companies are only after exporting raw or unprocessed ores.
This, he said, is simply because the Philippines is yet to fully develop its downstream mining industry due to lack of or insufficient power-generating capacity needed to operate processing plants.
Mining companies that intend to operate processing plants in the Philippines are considering the establishment of coal-fired power plants to supply the needed electricity for its proposed processing plants.
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