The Asia Miner

OCT-DEC 2018

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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the asia miner • volume 15 • issue 4 12 REGIONAL FOCUS: Philippines Due to past examples of environmental mismanagement, and with only a reported 3 per cent of 9 million hectares idenঞfied by the state as having high mineral reserves being mined, mining in the South East Asian naঞon remains a contenঞous issue. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has conঞnuously criঞcised miners for polluঞng the environment, bringing in a number of measures and orders curbing mining operaঞons in the country. In June this year, hope was sown with the Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu – ciঞng President Duterte's push on "increasing compeঞঞveness and the ease of doing business to aract local and foreign direct investment" – li[ing a moratorium on government approvals for small-scale mining projects. While only 1 per cent of the Philippine economy is supported by mining, the country is one of the world's largest exporters of nickel ore, and the recent legislaঞve reforms and industry assessments are hoped to be the start of a more tolerant policy towards mining. The following month, officials li[ed a two-year moratorium on approving mining exploraঞon permits, in a move that the government and industry hoped would determine the potenঞal of some prospects. Although this was the second mining policy measure amended in 2018, environment officials indicated that a ban on new mining operaঞons would remain in place. Cimatu's decision was echoed by Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Analiza Teh who commented that the new order would only allow exploraঞon at 16 previously approved mining contracts. Teh was cited in Reuters to have said that "only those with exisঞng MPSAs (mineral producঞon sharing agreements) could proceed with exploraঞon, with the exploraঞon permit allowing only mapping and drilling to determine mining potenঞal, but no new mineral agreements would sঞll be signed." In August, the Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR) completed its review of 26 Philippines mining companies, finding 13 to be of unacceptable standard and potenঞally looking at being closed or suspended. According to a DENR release, the Department was in the process of determining the future of the 13 companies that were found to be operaঞng below the obligatory standard, and who appealed against the review's findings by filing a moঞon for consideraঞon. "Mining companies need to shape up," said Cimatu. "We will definitely use the comprehensive report made by the MICC review teams in evaluaঞng whether or not a mining company should conঞnue to operate. However, I am inclined to put more premium on the environmental consideraঞons in the mining operaঞons." Cimatu referred to a state of the naঞon address made by President Rodrigo Duterte, in which he noted that ensuring environmental protecঞon is the top priority with regards to mineral exploitaঞon, to discuss how the government will take reported inefficiencies in mine rehabilitaঞon processes and dumping of hazardous waste seriously. "You will expect new administraঞve guidelines from DENR to operaঞonalise these reforms," said Cimatu. "The mining industry is in deep need for radical change. And, to reiterate the message of the president in his state of the naঞon address, the people of the Philippines must benefit first and foremost from the uঞlisaঞon of the country's mineral resources." During his speech at DENR's 31 st Anniversary celebraঞons in September, President Duterte reiterated his support for banning open-pit mining. "Open pit mines will be closed if they don't shape up," Mr. Cimatu said, "And we have to reinvent mining – find a way to extract minerals by not using open-pit mining." The DENR plans to enforce a department administraঞve order (DAO) on progressive rehabilitaঞon which will limit mining operaঞons to 100 hectares (ha) a year. Any further operaঞons will require rehabilitaঞng the already mined area a[er a year, before being permied to move onto the next 100 ha. Prior to the DAO, miners were allowed to conduct operaঞons on 4,000 ha before rehabilitaঞng the site, Mr. Cimatu said. The Cordillera region is rich in mineral reserves such as gold copper, silver, zinc, and non-metallic minerals like sand, gravel and sulphur Philippines deliberates its mining future President Duterte connues his strong stance on mining in the Philippines

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