Philippine President Ends Nine-Year Pause on New Mining Projects

President R. Duterte of the Philippines recently lifted a ban on mineral agreements that had been enacted in 2012 by former President Benigno Aquino III. This move reopens a door to new mineral agreements and investments and will help increase revenues. It came after the resident signed Executive Order No.130, which revises section 4 of executive order No.79, which was  ratified in 2012.

The Philippines is a major extractor of gold and copper, in addition to being the largest exporter of unprocessed nickel to the People’s Republic of China. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau notes that over a third of the country’s total land area has high mineral potential, with under 5% of the country’s mineral reserves having been extracted thus far.

The new order will allow the country’s government to enter into new mining project agreements, which will be subject to compliance with state regulations. In addition, it also permits existing mining contracts to be reviewed for possible renegotiations of the signing and terms of agreement. The executive order states that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will also start reviewing existing mining agreements and contracts for potential renegotiation of terms and conditions, which should in all cases be agreed upon by both the mining contractor and the government.

Furthermore, it instructs the country’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources to draw up terms and conditions for the new mineral agreements that will maximize the government’s share and revenues from production. However, it has not reversed a ban on licensing new open-pit mining.

The director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau noted that a few mining projects that hadn’t been approved will now be allowed to progress to the commercial extraction and development stages.

This move seems to have alarmed environmental activists, however; given the prior cases of environmental mismanagement, which led to Duterte warning miners to follow the environmental rules put in place in 2016.

In a press release, Alyansa Tigil Mina, an environmental advocacy organization in the country, commented on the government’s decision, noting that in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and a crisis affecting the climate, profits and corporate interests had won over the benefits and the welfare of the people.

Earlier in 2018, the president had ratified the TRAIN Act (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusive), under Section 48 of the country’s law. This led to the increase in the rate of excise tax on mineral products, quarry resources and minerals to 4%.

As better ways to extract and process minerals are sought around the world, many companies have developed technologies addressing these major concerns.

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