The 1980s were difficult for mining in the Philippines. In 1990 the mining and quarrying sector contributed 1.5 percent of GNP, approximately half the percentage it had accounted for ten years earlier. Mineral exports were 5.4 percent of merchandise trade in 1988, whereas in 1980 they constituted 17.8 percent. Rising operational costs and a depressed market severely affected the industry. In 1990 mining operations suffered from labor disputes, higher mandated wages, higher interest rates, typhoons, an earthquake, and power shortages.
In the early 1990s, the Philippines had large deposits of copper, chromium, gold, and nickel, plus smaller deposits of cadmium, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, and silver. Industrial minerals included asbestos, gypsum, limestone, marble, phosphate, salt, and sulfur. Mineral fuels included coal and petroleum.
In 1988 the Philippines was the sixth largest producer of chromium in the world and ranked ninth in gold production and tenth in copper production. The country's nickel-mining company, Nonoc Mining and Industrial Corporation, ceased operation in March 1986 because of financial and labor difficulties. The Asset Privatization Trust, a government entity in charge of selling firms acquired by the government through foreclosure proceedings, sold Nonoc in late 1990. The new owners expected to resume operations in the middle of 1991 and produce some 28,700 tons a year, which would again make nickel a major export earner for the Philippines.
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