The Philippines is hoping to attract up to $1 billion in investments into its mining sector this year after missing that same target in 2008, a senior official said on Thursday.

We're looking at probably $800 million to $1 billion. I think that's reasonable, Horacio Ramos, head of the mines and geosciences bureau, told reporters.

Mining investments last year totaled around $630 million, about the same as 2007, as some miners, struggling to get credit amid the global financial gloom, opted to shelve their projects, said Ramos.

Australia-based OceanaGold last month said it was putting on hold its Didipio gold and copper project in the northern Nueva Vizcaya province due to funding difficulties.

Junior mining companies are having a hard time raising funds for their projects, he said, adding that big names like Xstrata and BHP Billiton that have projects in the Philippines should do better.

Ramos said he is still hopeful that investments into the mining sector, among the world's biggest and most lucrative in the 1970s, would reach between $10 billion and $13 billion by 2013.

Legal uncertainties, disputes with local partners, communist insurgencies and opposition from the Catholic Church have stunted the flow of investments into Philippine mining.

The Southeast Asian nation has attracted almost $2 billion since 2004 when the Supreme Court cleared a law allowing foreigners to own 100 percent of large-scale mining projects. (Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Michael Urquhart)

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