More reforms seen in mining industry
The Philippine government is pursuing reforms in the local mineral industry to sustain environmental protection, an executive from the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) said Friday.
During the launching of an information campaign dubbed #MineResponsibilty, MGB-12 Regional Director Felizado Gacad Jr. said the government supports mining not only for economic gains "but also (with) regards (to) environmental protection and social-economic gains of communities" through practicing responsible mining.
President Rodrigo Duterte, Gacad said, cited that "responsible development of our mineral wealth will help us achieve sustained economic growth and improve the quality of our life".
He said there is an ongoing review of performance on existing mining operations and cleansing of the so-called "non-moving mining rights holders".
He said there is an existing review of the many mining operations all over the country, and the agency is also cleansing the non-performing and non-moving mining rights.
"There is an ongoing moratorium on the grant of Mineral Agreement (DAO) under Executive Order No. 79, there is a ban of open-pit mining under Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017-10 and the excise tax has been increased 2% to 4% under Train 1," he added.
He said the government will revalidate the 2016 resolution of the Department Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) mine audit by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council "for the coming months".
"There is a moratorium on new mining projects under DAO No. 2016-01 and also the consideration of expanding areas closed to mining under the Strategic Agriculture and Fishery Development Zone (SAFDZ) under EO No.79," he added.
He said these things have been put in place "for us to look into reforms that may be implemented to allow our mining operators to do their activities in a responsible manner".
The reforms include guidelines on apprehension, seizure, confiscation, and disposition of illegally-sourced mineral products and by-products, as well as tools, conveyances, and equipment on mining used in the country.
Under DENR Memorandum Order No. 2016-01, it clarified that small-scale projects in Minahang Bayan, a program under DENR tasked to regulate small-scale mining operations, are not covered by the DMO No. 2016-01.
MGB also pursued the lifting of the moratorium on acceptance and approval of applications for exploration permits under DMO No. 2016-01.
He added that the MGB provides a performance rating system and a standard monitoring checklist through scorecards to determine compliant and non-compliant mining contractors and permit holders which include exploration projects.
The DENR-MGB also issued guidelines for additional environmental measures for operating surface metallic mines, "which provides new environmental policies that will ensure environment protection at every stage of mining operations".
He said responsible mining with strict requirements could prevent future mining activities from repeating past mistakes.
He added that DENR has already issued new guidelines in the evaluation and approval of the three-year development/utilization work program as monitoring tools for conducting mining operations' "if/or requirements are complete".
"Responsible mining should not only be responsible mining. Responsible mining should be responsive mining as well as, meaning we don't only meet the minimum requirements of the government but have to go beyond these minimum requirements," he said.
The reforms tightened various restrictions to ensure responsible mining in the country.