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Biz Buzz: Gina Lopez’s own ‘matrix’

/ 01:57 AM October 03, 2016

THE RECENTLY concluded audit by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of 41 metallic mines in the country has undoubtedly cast a regime of uncertainty for operators, and the DENR appears to have been too busy looking at its targets at the expense of checking its own status.

That, at least, is what initial reactions from mining companies—most if not all of which have not received the audit reports on their respective mines, as of this writing—suggest.

And while the companies await to be enlightened on what they did wrong, many are hard put to keep shareholders calm.

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OceanaGold Corp. (gold-copper mine in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino) reportedly had to halt trading of shares in Australia on the very afternoon that the DENR chose to inform the world—and not the company itself —of the firm’s alleged wrongdoings. That day, the price of OCG shares dropped 19 percent.

Mindoro Resources Ltd.—which has a 40-percent stake in Agata Mining Ventures Inc. (nickel mine in Agusan del Norte)—which trades in Toronto and Frankfurt, said the “alleged violations have no bases,” assuring investors that there would be no disruption in its operations as they have not received a suspension order nor the audit report. Mindoro said AMVI was ready to submit proof of compliance upon receipt of any show-cause order.

TVI Resources Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD), Mindoro’s joint-venture partner in AMVI, had earlier said it has again postponed its P1.5-billion listing at the Philippine Stock Exchange because of this new development.

Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. (nickel mine in Surigao del Sur) said the DENR audit team’s recommendation for suspend could be reversed, especially since some of the issues stemmed from a pending action by the DENR.

MDDC—like the others—has yet to receive a copy of the full audit report and thus could “only surmise on alleged deficiencies and violations.”

According to the DENR, MMDC’s violations included its failure to implement the planting of three million seedlings, which was the penalty for mining outside the area covered by its partial DMPF (declaration of mining project feasibility). The DENR also said MDDC had expired discharge permits for facilities such as silt-ponds as well as oil and water separator.

Further, the DENR said the company has no approved EPEP (environmental protection and enhancement program) nor FMR/D (final mine rehabilitation and/or decommissioning) plan. The DENR also said MMDC was operating a mine within the proclaimed watershed reserve under Presidential Proclamation No. 1747.

“It appears that there may have been some unintended oversight in the audit since there are matters which are yet to be acted upon by the DENR,” the mining firm answered.

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MMDC said such matters pending with the DENR included the company’s offer to provide P30 million for the program to plant three million trees, application for discharge permits and request for approval of the EPEP and FMR/D plan.

On the matter of the watershed reservation, MDDC said “this has already been resolved” considering that the law was issued in 2009 while the company’s mineral production sharing agreement took effect in 1992.

“Proclamation No. 1747 in itself recognizes prior rights of contract holders, thus, MMDC is allowed to operate in the area,” the company said. Ronnel W. Domingo

Next DBP president?

THE STATE-OWNED Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) is one government financial institution that has seen a massive shake-up in the last few years—one that has been through a lot of legal and political drama. Many are keenly awaiting who President Duterte will appoint as its next president.

According to the grapevine, one strong contender for the post is veteran banker Cecilia Borromeo, currently officer-in-charge and executive vice president of Land Bank of the Philippines. While nothing is cast in stone until the final papers are signed, the buzz is that Borromeo may assume office by November.

Borromeo, who has been with Land Bank for 27 years, is a wholesale banking expert. She heads Land Bank’s agricultural and development lending sector. She deals with customers from the countryside, including the organizations of farmers and fisherfolk, small and medium enterprises, big corporations, local government units and government-owned and -controlled corporations.

Given Mr. Duterte’s avowed thrust to develop the countryside, it’s not a surprise why Borromeo has become a leading candidate for the post.

As for LandBank, a veteran banker from Davao is reported to be among those being considered to head this government bank.

The new administration has made earlier pronouncements that it was not keen on merging the two government banks. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

‘Batangas beef’

BARAKO-BREW sipping Batangueños in the know raised some eyebrows at the desperate attempts of two former government officials and a local media personality to revive an alleged tax issue against a big petroleum firm—which we shall call ‘Company S’.

Previous to this episode, this media person had already gained notoriety for pursuing another tax case against big multinational companies that failed to prosper because the courts ruled against him.

Legal luminaries from Batangas call the attempt as a “lost case, but a won cause” because, according to them, the company has a very strong case against its detractor—but its public image is being tarnished in the process.

They suspect that winning the case is of no consequence to this “triumvirate,” but that their cause—or perhaps “motive” would be more accurate—is paramount.

But wait, another person who is “in-the-know” offered a more interesting theory.

This person opined that although Company S is standing on solid legal ground, there may be two distinct incentives for its critics to go on the attack. The first one is the most obvious: To file a legal complaint and wait for the prospects of a monetary reward (a.k.a. a “settlement”). The second is to gain from Company S’ pain.

Of course, it boggles the mind to think how these parties can collect their reward or  whom this will come from. It is also a mystery as to how they can gain from the legal travails of this petroleum company. There’s the beef. Daxim L. Lucas

Kikkoman vs ‘toyo’

Kikkoman Corp. is one of Japan’s most beloved and respected food and beverage companies, not to mention among its most lucrative.

But in the Philippines, it has been facing challenges. Kikkoman is actually a conglomerate, which traces its roots centuries back. In its home country, its products range from food seasonings to even wine.

Filipinos, especially those who dine in mid-range to high-end Japanese restaurants, know the brand best for their brewed soy sauce. But apparently, it’s a taste and a price point that deterred most Filipinos.

A member of the founding Mogi family recently shared with Biz Buzz that the Philippines was still one of their weakest markets. Filipinos still prefer local and more affordable brands.

But the group isn’t giving up and a sizable market share could be captured in the coming years as awareness and affluence grows.  For Kikkoman, like brewing the perfect soy sauce, it’s all just a matter of time. Miguel R. Camus

‘Still fresh’

ARE YOU wondering whether this certain food which had been in your ref for days is still fit for consumption?

A group of college students from Ateneo de Manila University with background in business and chemistry founded a start-up firm, StillFresh, which seeks to provide businesses and consumers with the only spoilage-indicating strip that will help them avoid food spoilage.

The students developed a strip prototype that measures the carbon emission in food to determine whether it’s still fresh. Once commercially produced, the strip can be sold in drug stores or grocery chains here and abroad.

Original Pitch, a new venture capital fund led by the group of mass housing magnate Januario Jesus “JJ” Atencio, picked StillFresh to be its first investee firm. The fund invested an initial P750,000 to acquire a 40-percent stake in this innovative start-up. Atencio would have invested more but this would have diluted the founders, something he didn’t want to do because he’d like them to continue calling the shots at StillFresh.

“The rest of the funding will have to come from almost-zero interest loans,” he said.

The next step for these young people behind StillFresh, Atencio said, would be to scientifically document the efficacy of the chemical, get clearances and certifications from government agencies and get local and international patent.

The young people behind StillFresh are Jefferson Eisma, Jayne Arriola, Joseph Doroja, Carmela Dy, Jomar Montemayor and Samantha Tenco. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

 E-mail us at bizbuzz@inquirer.com.ph. Get business alerts and a preview of Biz Buzz the evening before it comes out. Text ON INQ BUSINESS to 4467 (P2.50/alert).

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TAGS: agata mining ventures inc., Agusan del Norte, amvi, Audit Reports, Carmela Dy, DENR, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Frankfurt, Jayne Arriola, Jefferson Eisma, Jomar Montemayor, Joseph Doroja, Metallic Mines, Mindoro Resources Ltd., Mindoro’s joint-venture partner, mining, mining companies, nickel mine, OceanaGold Corp., proof of compliance, Samantha Tenco, show-cause order, StillFresh, Toronto, TVI Resources Development Philippines Inc., TVIRD
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