Mining bureau begins crusade to lift open-pit mining ban
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) is looking to reverse the administrative orders of former Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez some time next year.
This includes the recommendation to remove the ban on open-pit mining and the lifting of the moratorium on the issuance of new mining permits.
“That is our direction. Our mandate is to promote responsible mining in the country and that is included, so we will push for that,” MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano told reporters on the sidelines of a signing ceremony that sealed the adoption of Canadian mining standards by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP).
Asked when the bureau would file a position paper, Moncano said MGB was still waiting for the “right timing” but that it would likely happen next year.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier rejected the call of industry groups and the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council to lift the ban on open-pit mining. President Duterte said open-pit mining was “destroying the soil and the environment.”
Moncano said that while they were respecting the decision of the President, they would still push for the lifting considering the conclusion of their review.
“This does not mean we are preempting the move of the President. The mind of the President is not closed. We’ll show him the benefits of mining in the country and that there are no environmental damages involved,” he said.
The director also revealed they were currently reviewing provisions of Executive Order 79 issued by then President Benigno Aquino III in 2011.
Under the order, no new mines can enter the sector until an updated revenue-sharing scheme would be enacted into law. These include mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA), exploration permits and financial or technical assistance agreements.
Nonetheless, Moncano clarified that all decisions would depend on the performance of the industry. He said “there should be improvement as far as environment protection is concerned.”
“The lifting of the moratorium on projects are premised on the increase in our taxes, and I hope that ends the debate,” COMP chair and Nickel Asia Corp. president Gerard H. Brimo said. “We are delighted, and we hope that really happens.”
Brimo said growth in the mining industry was not possible for as long as the issuance of permits were on hold. With a new fiscal regime and new mining standards to be implemented next year, he said he was expecting “far better and improved performance from the industry as a whole.”
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