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MGB: HMC mining permit renewal unlikely

/ 05:34 AM November 25, 2017

The application for the renewal of Hinatuan Mining Corp.’s (HMC) mining permit in Eastern Samar is likely to be rejected based on existing laws, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Wilfredo Moncano said.

On the sidelines of the 64th Annual National Mine Safety and Safety Conference (ANMSEC) in Baguio City, Moncano said that under Presidential Proclamation 469 issued by former President Fidel Ramos, the coastal and terrestrial areas of Manicani were declared as protected areas.

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Moreover, critical areas such as an “island ecosystem” like the Manicani cannot be mined according to Executive Order 79 issued by former President Benigno Aquino III.

Based on these laws, HMC is not likely to get its permit renewed, Moncano said. “It’s a legal issue actually, and we are currently studying it.”

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HMC, a subsidiary of the country’s largest nickel producer, Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC), applied for a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) renewal this month to enable it to continue its mining operations for another 25 years.

While EO 79 bans the issuance of new mining agreements, it allows the renewal of existing ones.

An official from MGB said HMC’s application had already reached the main office, but it was returned to the company because the requirements submitted were incomplete.

“If the renewal will not be approved, the mining company can go to court,” said Moncano.

In the meantime, NAC vice president  for corporate communication Jose Bayani Baylon said that while there were existing laws protecting Manicani, the law did not specifically define what an “island ecosystem” was.

“The Philippines is composed of 7,100 islands. To say an island ecosystem cannot be mined under EO 79 is vague…A clearer definition of ‘island’ under this EO is needed,” he said.

“The EO also has reference to contract agreements existing prior to the EO, so there you see the respect for valid contracts,” he added.

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Antimining group Alyansa Tigil Mina and former Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez recently held a media briefing opposing the renewal of HMC’s MPSA.

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