Minerals and Mineral Wealth

          The country has rich deposits of gold, silver, iron, copper, lead, manganese, zinc, and other metals, as well as coal, cement, salt, asphalt, asbestos, gypsum, clay, marble and other non-metallic minerals. Vast reserves of oil and gas have been found and exploited both inland and offshore. and the Philippines contains one of the richest potential reserves of seabed mineral nodules, lying at the bottom of the sea.

          The Philippines is one of Asia's greatest gold-producing regions. Gold mining is an ancient industry in the archipelago. Long before the coming of Spanish conquistadores, the Filipinos were already mining gold in Paracale (Camarines Norte), in the mountains of northern Luzon and in the islands of Masbate and Mindanao.

          Copper mining is another old industry in the Philippines. The Igorots have been mining copper in the mountains of northern Luzon since pre-Magellanic times. The best known copper district is Mankayan, where the oldest and the largest copper mine still exists. Other copper deposits are found in Rapu-Rapu Island (part of Albay Province), Negros Island and Zambales Province.

          The greatest iron-bearing area in the Philippines is Surigao, whose iron ore deposit is estimated at 1 billion tons, being one of the richest undeveloped deposits in the world. Other rich iron deposits are in Angat, Bulacan; Larap, Camarines Norte; Marinduque; and Samar.

          In Masinloc, Zambales exists the biggest deposit of high quality chromite in the world. The world's largest deposit of nickel has been discovered in recent years in Nonoc Isle, off the coast of northern Mindanao.

          Adequate deposits of coal are found in Cebu, Polillo Island, Sorsogon, Masbate and Sibuguey Peninsula, Minadanao; oil in Bontoc Peninsula and the Cagayan Valley, Cebu, and other Visayan Islands, and the coastal areas of Palawan and Sulu; lead and zinc in Masbate; tin and quicksilver in Palawan; asphalt in Leyte; asbestos in Ilocos Norte and Zambales; marble in Romblon and Mindoro; cement in Cebu, Rizal, and La Union; and sulfur in Camiguin Island, Biliran Island (near Leyte), and Mount Apo, Mindano. There are vast marble deposits in Mindoro, Romblon, Palawan, Cebu, and Bicol. The Philippines has the potential to become the world's top producer of marbles.

          Although most of its rich mineral resources are still underdeveloped, the Philippines is already the largest copper and chromite producer in the Far East.

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