The Philippines Government is planning to pursue more government-led exploration focused on critical minerals such as nickel and chromium, Reuters reported.

The government-led exploration activities, which are expected to begin next year, will support the local mining industry by helping identify areas to conduct the extraction of such critical minerals.

These activities are expected to minimise risks for investors while offering the necessary data to make investment decisions. They can also help revitalise the significantly underdeveloped mining sector in the country.

The Phillippines’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources undersecretary Carlos Primo David was quoted by the news agency as saying: “We want to help the industry with this critical step in the process. We want to give some guidance on where to explore, what to explore, and it will be covered in a new regulation.”

As one of the key nickel ore suppliers to China, the Philippines also produces copper, gold and other minerals, as well as aims to attract more investment in mining to promote economic growth.

The government has scrapped restrictive mining policies such as open-pit mining prohibition. It is also working to bring in investments into the domestic nickel processing sector to add more value to the sector.

Malaya Business Insight quoted David as saying: “The government has a budget of P60m ($1.05m) for minerals exploration but it’s like a shotgun exploration. What we want to do is to focus on certain areas.”

“We wanted to focus that small budget and revive exploration by government. Hopefully, when we do the initial exploration, there is enough information for the private sector to get interested and continue the exploration.”

The government currently seeks investment in at least three mining processing plants, notably Zambales, Palawan and Caraga.