The Philippine Board of Investments (BOI) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) agencies—Metals Industry Research and Development (MIRDC) and the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the conduct of a feasibility study designed to boost the local production of iron using the country’s indigenous mineral resources.

The study called “Technical and Economic Feasibility Study To Determine the Most Suitable Iron Making Technology for the Value Adding of Philippine Magnetite Resources for the Iron & Steel Industry” is in line with the Iron and Steel Roadmap’s goal for the Philippines to build the capacity to locally produce iron using available indigenous mineral resources and possibly reductants and eventually integrate them with existing steelmaking infrastructures. 

“A genuine local iron and steel industry is a strategic element for the country’s socioeconomic development. It can serve as backbone for many sectors of the economy as it is highly interrelated with many sectors specifically the infrastructure, power, transportation, and the manufacturing industries,” Trade Undersecretary for Industry Development and BOI Managing Ceferino Rodolfo said during the signing ceremony recently at the BOI Building. Undersecretary Rodolfo signed the MOA along with MIRDC Executive Director Robert Dizon and PCIEERD Deputy Executive Director Raul Sabularse.

BOI and DOST MOA signing for iron and steel study

“In fact, President Rodrigo Duterte specifically gave directives to look into the viability of local magnetite ores, particularly the black sand, as intermediate iron products for use in the production of iron and steel,” Undersecretary Rodolfo said adding the President’s marching order to pursue industrialization as a key to “real” economic by having the country’s own steel industry.

The MOA provides for the MIRDC as the implementing agency for the study with the BOI, through the Manufacturing Resurgence Program-Industry Development Program providing the funds and PCIEERD with the counterpart funds.

The study also aims to provide technological solutions to obtain maximum benefit from the value adding of iron resources in the country. Specifically, it will commission bench scale testing of local magnetite ores through iron making technologies such as Midrex, RH Process and the New Zealand Process.

The study will also identify, select and establish the preliminary technical feasibility of the ironmaking technology suitable for the processing of local magnetite ore, particularly black sand, into intermediate products for use in the production of iron and steel.

The study also aims to determine the economic feasibility of putting up an iron making facility in the country in the context of metallurgical testing results, availability and location of black sand and reductants, the location of markets and other necessary factors such transport facilities, power sourcing, among others.

According to the Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (PISI), the country’s steel consumption has already reached 8.76 million metric tons (MT) in 2015 or more than 20 percent up from 7.2 million MT in 2014. Industry sources mentioned that this is accounted for by imports which reached 4.9 million MT in 2015 up from 3.3 million MT in 2012.  Iron and steel imports were the country’s sixth biggest imported products at US$1.7 billion in 2015.  These mainly come from China, Russia, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.