Body to clear legal roadblocks in sale of gov’t mining assets
To fast-track the planned privatization of the government’s mining assets, the Department of Finance (DOF) will spearhead an interagency initiative to clear legal impediments— pending for several decades now—out of the way.
In a statement on Saturday, the DOF quoted the Privatization and Management Office (PMO) as saying that “lawsuits filed by the private sector proponents in the operations of these once-flourishing mining assets have hampered efforts by the government to privatize them.”
The DOF-attached PMO is in-charge of selling idle assets such as land and shares of stock.
To remove this roadblock, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said they were forming “an interagency team to study ways on how we can clear the path for these assets to be privatized and revive their operations.”
This team will consist of representatives from the DOF, the PMO, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) as well as the Office of the Solicitor General, Dominguez said.
The PMO earlier told Dominguez that the following government-held assets were under litigation: Maricalum Mining Corp.’s copper-gold project in Negros Occidental; Nonoc Mining and Industrial Corp.’s nickel mines in Surigao del Norte, and North Davao Mining’s property in Davao del Norte, which the DOF described as “gold- and copper-rich.”
“Maricalum Mining, Nonoc Mining and North Davao Mining were once successful mining companies that have failed to settle their debts with government financial institutions, leading to their foreclosure and transfer of their assets and shares of stocks to the national government,” the DOF said.
The government then auctioned off the shares of these mining firms, but the firms with the highest bid failed to fulfill their obligations, which resulted in decades of litigation that have left these mining assets idle, the DOF added.
Meanwhile, the PMO said two other assets—Basay Mining Corp.’s copper mines in Negros Oriental as well as Marinduque Mining and Industrial Corp.’s former nickel mine (MMIC Bagacay Mine) in Western Samar—were “inoperational because of legal concerns on how these assets should be disposed.”
Technical studies by the PMO indicate that the Basay mine is estimated to contain at least 105 million tons of copper ore and could generate at least P1 billion, the DOF said.
Dominguez earlier said the government wanted to privatize its mining assets to not only raise additional revenues but also revive the sector and generate jobs.
The PMO and the MGB must also first harmonize their separate state asset and mine privatization functions, respectively, before the government’s mining assets can be auctioned, the DOF said. INQ
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