Photo credit: Global Ferronickel Holdings
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has clarified that the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA No. 017-93-IV) between the Philippine government and Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) remains in force and valid until 10 April 2025. This allows INC, a subsidiary of diversified conglomerate Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc., to maintain its exclusive right to conduct responsible mining operations in the Municipality of Brooke's Point, Palawan, covering 2,835 hectares, with 260 hectares already partially declared as a mining area.
Engr. Glen Marcelo C. Noble, Regional Director for MGB-MIMAROPA Region, issued the clarification in a letter dated 21 February 2023 to Brooke’s Point Vice Mayor Mary Jean D. Feliciano in response to a resolution by the Sangguniang Bayan of Brooke’s Point. The resolution sought to investigate the operations of INC following claims that the alleged renewal of its MPSA in 2018 was without the endorsement of the Municipality of Brooke’s Point and that it is operating without a Certificate Precondition (CP) from the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and a Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) clearance. Director Noble explains that the MPSA did not expire on 05 August 2018 as MPSA No. 017-93-IV was amended on 10 April 2000 to conform to RA 7942, otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. To resolve the issue on the effective date of the MPSA, the DENR has issued the Order dated 21 December 2021 confirming that the effective date of the same MPSA shall be reckoned from the date of the execution of the amended MPSA
Director Noble further clarifies that INC does not need to secure a CP as this requirement only applies to applications filed after RA 8371, or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, was enacted. He cites a letter by the NCIP dated 31 March 2006 stating that INC is no longer covered as it was already awarded an MPSA four years prior on 05 August 1993. INC, on the other hand, has concluded the process of securing a CP in preparation for the renewal of its MPSA in 2025. During a series of community consultations last June 2022 to August 2022 under the guidance of the NCIP, an overwhelming number of indigenous peoples (IPs) voted for the continued operations of INC. In total, 3,739 IPs from Barangays Aribungos and Calasaguen voted in favor of INC versus only 614 dissenters from Barangay Aribungos. In Barangay Calasaguen, 100 percent of the eligible voters were in favor of responsible mining. This led the IPs from Barangay’s Barong-Barong, Ipilan, Mambalot and Maasin to concede in favor of INC.
There is also no need to secure a PAMB Clearance as the MPSA predates the proposed Final Boundary of the Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL). It is protected under the pertinent provision of Presidential Proclamation No. 1815, creating the MMPL while recognizing prior or vested rights.
“We are awaiting the renewal of our Mayor’s Permit as we have already submitted the necessary documents and complied with all laws and regulations,” said Alex Arabis, Resident Mine Manager of Ipilan Nickel Corporation.
INC employs over 1,500 people, wherein 90% are residents of Brooke’s Point. The IPs are also well-represented as they make up 28% of the total workforce. To date, INC has spent close to P53.3 million to fund various projects to improve the quality of life in Brooke’s Point and nearby areas.
Article courtesy of the Philippine Stock Exchange