ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is exploring the optimal utilization of its mineral resources to bolster the nation’s economic growth, and the potential for creating value-added products from these resources, a state minister said.
“Given our nation’s rich mineral resources, we have devised plans to expand investment opportunities,” State minister of Urban Development and Housing, Arundika Fernando said.
“We have taken the decision to extend investment prospects along our coastline, collaborating closely with agencies such as the Investment Promotion Board and the Ministry of Lands,” Fernando said.
The minster said they were considering the introduction of a specialized bank dedicated to the development of domestic industries and introducing new legislation.
“We are committed to introducing a new environmental protection and ocean protection bill in our country. This legislation will play a vital role in safeguarding our natural resources.”
“The Department of Coastal Conservation actively participates in initiatives aimed at enhancing the value of our mineral resources. These resources have the potential to yield significant value through the production of value-added goods.”
“Our primary focus must centre on pioneering innovative programs that contribute to our country’s economic recovery. Timely and effective resource management is crucial for initiating income-generating initiatives.
From a geographical standpoint, Sri Lanka occupies a strategically vital position in Asia.
India has been eyeing Trincomalee, the mineral resource rich district, for decades. A mineral sand deposit in its northern part contains Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon, Monazite, Garnet, Sillimanite, and other heavy minerals, Export Development Board (EDB) data shows.
Sri Lanka’s state-run Lanka Mineral Sands Limited is to export 60,000 metric tonnes of ilmenite to China this month after a shipment of 30,000 tonnes of Zircon mineral sands was shipped out of Trincomalee harbour earlier this month.
The EDB said it had identified the value-added mineral products sector as a potential sector to be developed and promoted in the international market, and met with members of the Chamber of Mineral Exporters (CME) to discuss growing the mineral-based industry in Sri Lanka.
CME members requested the government foster foreign investments and proposed that the state conduct a comprehensive ore reserves study to maintain transparency and informed decision-making within the industry.
They asked for government support in research and development, and a 300% tax rebate for research and development activities in collaboration with Sri Lankan educational institutions.
They also requested revising royalty systems grounded in pithead value, in line with international norms and pointed out the need for an equitable approach to royalty calculations to ease the financial burden on mining entities.
Securing international accreditation for the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau laboratory in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Standards Institution to enhance global credibility was also discussed.
CME pointed out the untapped potential of numerous pocket mines in Sri Lanka, and advocated for the development of support industries equipped with state-of-the-art technology.
Members also urged the government to consider duty waivers for the import of new technology and pertinent spare parts to foster innovation and elevate the sector to international standards. (Colombo/Sep26/2023)