Mining regulators eye bidding out 3M hectares of freed up areas
MANILA, Philippines—Mining regulators are considering options for managing freed up mining areas including bidding them out.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Engr. Leo L. Jasareno said via e-mail that more than 3 million hectares of applied mining areas have been freed up since the government implemented its “use it or lose it” policy.
“The policy has the primary aim of rendering final action on 2,196 pending mining applications nationwide. By end of June 2011, the MGB denied a total of 1,606 applications.
Beyond mineral resources development and management, the MGB has been pursuing its other mandate – geohazard mapping for landslide and flooding, Jasareno said.
In the light with the recent Cagayan de Oro flooding event, the MGB has been advocating the widespread use of landslide and flooding maps for much of the last decade as a tool for disaster risk reduction and management, as well as land use planning.
MGB has been conducting cleansing by either approving pending applications or disapproving those with “infirmities, lack of activity, or lack of requirements.”
Most miners welcomed the cleaning because it would free up areas for “serious investors” and would increase the value of active permits and mining contracts. Some, however, fear that any resulting spike in investor interest would draw unwanted attention to the mining industry.
The government hopes the cleansing of mining applications will ensure that only investors with financial and technical capability would get hold of mining projects. This is seen to help the government meet investment targets, with expectations that delays on project milestones would be minimized.
In 2010, the government missed its mining investment target due to delays in some projects, including the Pujada nickel project of Asiaticus Management Corp., which had a falling out with global mining giant BHP Billiton.
The Philippines expects mining investments to reach $17.35 billion by 2016 as government streamlines the permitting process for the industry and promotes the country as an investment haven, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
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