Sustainable Mineral Resources in the Philippines (Sustainable Minerals)

The Sustainable Mineral Resources in the Philippines programme seeks to improve understanding of the impacts of past and future mining practices in the Philippines, and develop new innovative approaches to the production of minerals that minimise negative impacts on the environment and the health, and wellbeing of communities.  

As one of the world’s most mineral-rich countries, mineral extraction in the Philippines is a critical industry which offers significant potential benefits and returns to both the economy and local livelihoods. Whilst the global demand for minerals to support clean energy technologies is growing, mining for minerals remains restricted in the Philippines due to past environmental impacts, illegal operations, and mismanagement. This new programme of research is essential to deliver a sustainable pathway for Philippine mineral supplies.

The programme is jointly funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (UKRI – NERC) and the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD).

NERC invests in sustainable future for Philippine minerals

10 May 2021

The Natural Environment Research Council is co-funding five projects to help develop research that will address and reduce the impact of mining in the Philippines.

The increased global ambition to meet the climate change goals outlined in the Paris Agreement necessitates a switch towards cleaner energy technologies, which are mineral-intensive. The Philippines has abundant mineral reserves, yet the Philippines government imposed a moratorium on all mining activities between 2016-2018 in response to detrimental environmental and social impact and continues to restrict mining and impose closures where necessary. Despite the moratorium, the Philippines government seeks to promote responsible mineral development “where technically feasible, environmentally compliant, socially acceptable & financially viable”.  A new approach to the production of minerals in the Philippines is thus needed to inform policy, improve operating standards in local mines, and ensure that the negative impacts of mineral extraction are minimised, whilst continuing to benefit the Philippine economy and local livelihoods. This requires a better understanding of the impacts of past and future mining practices in the Philippines, and new innovative approaches that are not harmful to the environment and the health, and wellbeing of communities.

The overall objective of the Sustainable Mineral Resources in the Philippines programmes is to develop a whole system view of sustainable mineral production in the Philippines. Three research themes have been identified to address this overarching objective:

  1. Novel technologies for the sustainable extraction and understanding of mineral deposition in the Philippines. This includes improved understanding of local geology and minerals characterization (i.e. profiling of minerals, ores and their bio-hydro-thermo-chemo-mechanical behaviours and inter-dependencies), and new approaches to baselining and monitoring (i.e. machine learning, remote data sensors, LIDAR/satellites, drones, nanomaterials, automated SEM, infrared, X-ray).
  2. Legacy (abandoned) mines and mine tailings including resource recovery, processing of untapped/unprocessed minerals, and understanding of the impacts of past practices and routes to ecosystem rehabilitation.
  3. Understanding the fate, transport, and impact of associated contaminants through the environment.

This is a 2-stage programme. The first stage (partnership and project development grants – PPD) will enable UK and Philippine researchers to collaborate to develop interdisciplinary teams and refine project ideas to address the research needs essential to delivering a route to sustainable mineral production in the Philippines. The second stage will support up to 2 research teams with strategic large grants of up to £1.2m and 15M Philippine Peso to deliver a 3 year research programme.



Can I apply for a grant?

A call for strategic large grant proposals is open until 20 July 2021. Please see the Announcement of Opportunity (PDF, 361KB) for further information. Strategic large grants are open to PPD award holders only..


NERC has supported 5 PPD awards at up to £50,000. NERC has funding to support up to 2 strategic large grants of up to £1.2m. DOST-PCIEERD are funding eligible Philippine-based researchers.

Programme awards

Details of the research projects awarded by UKRI are shown in our live online grants browser - Grants on the Web (GOTW).

View live details of Sustainable Minerals funded grants - external link

Programme Executive Board

The Sustainable Minerals programme will be governed by the Programme Executive Board, which is responsible for providing the strategic direction and management for the programme and delivery of the programme’s objectives. The Programme Executive Board comprises representatives from the funders (UKRI-NERC and DOST-PCIEERD) and may include wider representatives and relevant users/stakeholders as required.


The Secretary, based at NERC Head Office, provides administrative support to the Programme Executive Board.

A facilitated Philippines-UK collaborative research programme scoping workshop took place in the Province of Palawan, Philippines on 1-5 March 2020. In addition to discussions around the scope of a potential new programme area, there were opportunities for networking and relationship building to facilitate new links between the UK and Philippine research communities in environmental science research and the development of new technology. View the agenda and presentations from the workshop.