- Published on Tuesday, 10 July 2012 00:00
- Written by JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR
By A Web design Company
The government yesterday released Executive Order No. 79 setting the mining guidelines to better protect the environment and provide for more equitable revenue sharing, after it was signed by President Aquino last Friday.
Spelled out in the EO are areas – tourism, prime agricultural lands, critical ecosystems – where mining is barred.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Environmental Secretary Ramon Paje said existing mining contracts will be respected and considered binding provided that the companies involved in the mining operations are complying with existing laws.
‘Paje said the government wants to increase excise tax from the current 2 percent to between 5 to 7 percent.’
Paje said DENR would review the performance of the existing mining operations and cleanse the current list of 300 permits of which only 33 are operating.
Now that EO 79 has been signed, the Philippines can achieve this year’s mining investment target of $2.27 billion, the DENR said.
Most of the investments would come from Surigao Sumitomo HPAL Project, OceanaGold’s Didipio Mine, South Africa’s Gold Fields Ltd. and the Runruno gold project and the King-king mining project.
Paje said the EO also includes plans to charge occupational and application fees upon the filing of application in contrast with the current practice of charging only upon start of operations .This will generate about P760 million.
He said there is also plans to increase the current filing fee of P50,000 for every mining operation application.
Ochoa and Paje said no new mineral agreements, however, will be issued pending the passage of legislation that will rationalize the revenue-sharing schemes and mechanisms, but the Department of Environment and Natural Resources may continue to grant and issue exploration permits under existing guidelines and laws with the grantees given the right of first option to develop and utilize minerals in their respective areas once a new law is in effect.
The EO also calls for the establishment of a mineral reservations area for the development of strategic industries identified in the Philippine Development Plan and a National Industrialization Plan.
Paje said under the EO, large scale mining companies who would want to operate in mineral reserved areas will have to pay a five percent royalty to the government, but companies who are already operating in the said area would not be covered as the declaration cannot be retroactive.
He said a legislation is needed to make the five percent royalty retroactive to cover existing mining companies which could generate P16 billion by 2016.
The EO also states that the grant of mining rights and mining tenements over areas with known and verified mineral resources and reserves, including those owned by the Government and all expired tenements, shall only be undertaken through competitive public bidding; and that all valuable metals in abandoned ores and mine wastes and/or mill tailings generated by previous and now defunct mining operations now belongs to the State and shall be developed and utilized through competitive public bidding in accordance with the pertinent provisions of law. In the case of existing mining operations, all valuable metals in mine wastes and/or mill tailings shall automatically belong to the State upon the expiration of their mining contracts.
Paje said the government could generate up to P50 billion from the abandoned tailings and stockpiles.
The EO also outlines steps to ensure that activities comply with the Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991 and the Environmental Impact Statement requirements which include barring the use of mercury in small-scale mining, and the establishment of a Minahang Bayan or the People’s Small-Scale Mining Areas within three months after the issuance of the EO, and mandates the creation and operation of Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Boards.
Paje said the local government units are barred from issuing new permits for small scale-mining operations if they are to be done outside the Minahang Bayan.
He said the setting up of a Minahang Bayan aims to ensure that mining wastes can be contained and treated properly and efficiently.
The EO also established a Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) which would be co-chaired by the head of the Cabinet clusters on climate change adaptation and mitigation, and economic development, with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) among the members.
The MICC is tasked, among others, to conduct assessment and review of all mining-related laws, rules and regulations, issuances and agreements toward the formulation of recommendations for better coordination between the national government and LGUs.
MICC shall also be responsible for the campaigns against illegal mining, serve as oversight committee over the operations of the Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Boards, monitor the implementation of mining laws and regulate small-scale mining participants, who are equally accountable to the same environmental and social obligations as large-scale mining companies.
MICC and DENR are expected to come up with an implementing rules and regulations on EO within the next 60 days.
The EO also directs the DENR to establish an inter-agency one-stop shop for all mining applications and procedures within the next six months, and to put up a centralized database of all mining-related information also within the next six months.