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Govt explores old mine for rare earth

The government is exploring an old iron mine run by the defunct Philippine Iron Mines in Camarines Sur for deposits of rare earth elements, which are used in the electronics industry. Mines and Geosciences Bureau director Leo Jasareno said the agency was now surveying the mine for possible deposits of scandium and etrium. “The volume of REE deposits is still indeterminate at this time,” Jasareno said. Other elements recognized as REEs include scandium, yttrium, lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium and lutetium. REEs are used in electronic products and in modern high technology applications. The Philippines is currently pushing for the development of REE deposits. China currently holds 97 percent of the industry’s global market. MGB earlier said other areas that could be surveyed for REE deposits included Palawan and Nueva Vizcaya, Pangasinan, Isabela, Baguio, Davao Oriental and Camarines Norte. MGB asked the assistance of the Chinese Geological Survey for the identification of REE exploration sites in the country. “The talks went well and it seems that the CGS is still interested in partnering with the MGB. We are still continuing dialogs with them,” Jasareno said. The exploration program will involve three phases, including reconnaissance, semi-detailed survey and detailed survey. MGB said the full exploration program would determine if the Philippines had commercial deposits. Jasareno said the MGB would spend P500 million this year for the REE reconnaissance activities.
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