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MINERAL EXPLORATION IN THE PHILIPPINES:
POSSIBILITIES AND PROBLEMS

M. H. TUPAS

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION



Before I go into the burden of this paper, which is the raising of scientific and technological problems which can be the subject of research, I would like to point out that the purpose of mineral exploration is to discover and develop an ore body. Thus, the factors that determine whether a mineral deposit will constitute an ore body, i.e., that mining the deposit will yield profit, exert a heavy influence from the very start of mineral exploration. So there are really other non-scientific and non-technological problems, which very often deter the explorationist from going ahead with his task. Take for example the case of copper: its current price is in the mid-50 cents. There are mines ready to expand production when the price reaches about 70 cents, and there are ore bodies already blocked out just waiting for $1 before they start pre-production works. One therefore may consider exploration for copper unwarranted in such places like the heart of Sierra Madre Mts., where there are no roads, no labor, no local source of food—where everything is against you except gravity—on the way down. What are the problems here? The world-wide economic recession, the lack of infrastructure, the high cost of hardware, the lack of capital, inflation, etc. These problems are economic, political, even social, and their ramifications filter down and loom large to explorationists and affect their attitude and morale. Although these are not the problems that we shall consider here, I call attention to them because they precede the technological/scientific problems and in many instances render the latter irrelevant.

Before I leave this subject, I would like to point out that the need for certain metals, the productive capability of different countries and the prices at which they can be made available, are encompassed in the field of study known as mineral economics. Mineral economics foresaw, e.g., the present shortage of chromite and glut of copper, and gives an insight into the future of gold. In brief, the supply—demand situation of mineral metal commodities can be predicted and our competitive position assessed. Thus, we can direct our exploration and research programs accordingly. Incidentally, an "analytical technique for constructing a metals budget for different types of deposits by region" (Whitney, 1975), and a study of "subjective probability appraisal of metal endowment" (Harris, 1973) may find application in the Philippines for making gross estimates of, say, our copper and chromite reserves. (Whitney included the Philippines in his study of porphyry copper deposits.) But again, this problem is not in the mainline of our inquiry, although certainly, it bears on mineral exploration.



 

 

 

 

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