The Philippine gold mining industry plays an important role in the global gold production, generating 37,800 kg of the precious metal in 2003. Almost all of the 73 island provinces contain lode and placer deposits. However, the districts that have historically produced the highest amounts of gold are Baguio, Paracale, Masbaate, Surigao and Masara. Much of the gold generated in the Philippine gold mining industry is extracted through various small mining operations. Currently, the largest producer is the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company. Other mining companies in the Philippines include TVI Pacific, Philsaga Mining Corporation, Lafayette Mining LTD and Apex Mining Company. In July of 2010, the Apex Mining Company made headlines when it found a new deposit of high grade gold in a southern mine.
The history of the Philippine gold mining industry dates back hundreds of years. When the Spanish conquistadors first arrived to the islands, they found the natives wearing gold ornaments from head to toe. According to records, Philippine natives had a vast knowledge of gold and the children were even able to determine the purity of gold alloys. The natives also had a complex vocabulary for gold and were skilled in various techniques of working with this precious metal.
In 1905, 89 active mines applied for claims in the Philippines, and that number increased dramatically to 544 in 1906. Through the early 1940s, the Philippine gold mining industry was continuing to experience a large and impressive growth. It was during this time that the first mining companies were established in the islands. In 1995 the Philippine government passed a law that allowed foreigners to own and operate mines in the islands. This law still exists and is controversial because many Filipinos believe that only they should own and operate mines. However, it is expected that this law will allow billions of dollars to be invested in the country and help to stimulate the economy.
The Philippine gold mining industry is also well known for the legend of Yamashita's gold. This refers to the treasures stolen in Asia by the Japanese military during World War II. Legend states that the gold was hidden underground in the Philippines. Although this legend is disputed by most experts, many people have been lured to the area in search of the hidden treasure. To this day, tourists and adventure enthusiasts visit the Philippine islands in search of Yamashita's gold.