MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: New threats for anti-mining advocates

Published by MAC on 2013-06-03
Source: Statements, Manila Channel, Nordis, GMA, Mindanews (2013-05-30)

Threats have been reported against the organiser of an anti-mining demonstration in the Caraga region that we have previously commented on (see: Philippines: The Assault on the Mining Act Continues). These are also allegedly linked to the killing of a local tribal leader.

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) continues to denounce the escalating human rights violations against Philippine indigenous peoples at international meetings, while supporting communities which oppose mining activities on their land, for which they have not given consent.

Also in the Cordillera, the battle to address Philex's Padcal mine waste spill has taken a new turn: the National Power Corporation is demanding compensation for the affected San Roque dam (see: Philippines Mining: Damning Conclusions).

The election results are in, and it appears that the provincial authorities are unlikely to over-turn the mining ban which affects Glencore-Xstrata's potential Tampakan project.

The new government is also prioritising a mapping exercise to identify 'no-go zones' for mining, and a new mining reform bill.

However all this "good news" should be tempered by the fact that the economic figures show an 18% drop in mining output in 2012. This government and company optimism - that the future of mining is brighter than its past - is seldom matched by reality.

Threats hound anti-mining advocate

Written by Ronald Reyes

Manila Channel

30 May 2013

MANILA, Philippines-A known anti-mining advocate based in Caraga region in Mindanao is now fearing for his life following repeated appearances of heavily-armed and masked men in his residence and neighborhood.

Chito Trillanes, spokesperson of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Tandag in Surigao del Sur told Manila Channel he believed his strong stance against mining operations and exposing environmental abuses in Caraga region allegedly caused him to receive death threats.

"The incident started on Friday (May 24) about 1 a.m. when two armed men wearing caps and jackets stepped into our yard, when we noticed them the men immediately fled on board a motorcycle. Our neighbors also noticed this as they've been seeing two unidentified men on board a motorcycle frequenting the area."

" The threats on my life is serious. I am already afraid of my life and also to that of my family," added Trillanes, also saying he "needed urgent security and protection support from the government."

Meanwhile media campaigner of environmental group Green Mindanao said that alleged people behind Trillanes's recent threats and harassment could also be behind the killing of one tribal leader Datu Manuel "Kajugjug" Gardigo who was reportedly shot dead early morning of May 2 at his residence in Agsam, Lanuza, Surigao Del Sur. Gardigo sustained five shots in different parts of his body.

The perpetrators remained unidentified, Calunsag added.

Kajugjug, like Trillanes, was also behind anti-mining and logging activities in the province being the chairperson of Kalasag, an indigenous people's organization in Mindanao.

"The pattern is the same as the two men were unidentified in the neighborhood, they were using improvised motorcycle locally called as habal-habal, and they wore bonnets and jackets riding in tandem."

"The neighbors also said they have been sighting the two men in the area. These hired killers have never been stopped by local authorities," added Calunsag.

It can be recalled that on March 22, Trillanes and his group of about 300 protesters also led the picket rally in front of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau office in Caraga under then regional director Roger de Dios to demand for the immediate implementation of the court's temporary environmental protection order issued against one mining company operating in Surigao del Sur.

Asked about his comment on the threats and harassment received by anti-mining advocates in Caraga, De Dios answered, saying:

"I don't have any idea about death threats, ako pa siguro ang delikado because I am not from Caraga ( I should be the one on danger because I am not from Caraga). I just want to uphold responsible mining but not mere accusations."

A native of Cebu, De Dios was "relieved as MGB-Caraga director effective May 15" after serving there since September 2012 due to another mining issue in Nonoc Island in Surigao city. He however said he is ready to face any investigation on said reported mining issue.


Tribe groups seek UN hand on rights violations

By Kimberlie Ngabit-Quitasol

Northern Dispatch

27 May 2013

BAGUIO CITY - Indigenous peoples groups sought the intervention of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in the ongoing meeting of the 12th Session of the UNPFII in New York, USA this May 20 to May 31.

In the intervention, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) chairman Windel Bolinget pointed out that despite the Philippine government's adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and other human rights treaties, the escalating human rights violations perpetrated against indigenous peoples in the country are alarming. He mentioned the continuing violations on the collective rights of indigenous peoples, which is embodied in the UNDRIP "in the name of development and for peace." He was also representing the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas (KAMP), the national alliance of indigenous peoples in the country.

Bolinget said that the present administration of President Benigno Aquino III gave priority to foreign investments in extractive and destructive industries like mining, energy and industry projects over the rights and welfare of indigenous communities. He added that along with these destructive projects is the militarization of indigenous communities through the implementation of the present administration's counter insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan.

"Indigenous peoples are opposed to such projects because these will displace us from our ancestral lands and territories that is tied to our culture, and will rob us of our livelihood and natural resources. To indigenous peoples, land is life," he said. He disclosed that military troops are deployed to indigenous communities as investment defense forces to protect the extractive industry projects and quell the resistance of indigenous peoples.

According to CPA data, Oplan Bayanihan resulted to 35 cases of extrajudicial killings of indigenous peoples and one enforced disappearance since 2010. This include the massacre of the pregnant wife and two young children of Daguil Capion on October 18, 2012 and the killing of five tribe leaders from March to October 2012 in Southern Philippines. Daguil and his wife opposed the proposed Xstrata open-pit mining operations in South Cotabato. The indigenous leaders were opposed to different corporate mining and oil palm plantation projects.

The same data show that from July 2010 to October 2012, more than a thousand families and 600 individuals had to forcibly evacuate from their villages in order to save their lives from the massive aerial and ground military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which also resulted in economic dislocation.

In 2012, seven indigenous children below 15 years of age were killed, and two minor girls were raped by an Army official in the Cordillera. Military encampment in schools, day care centers and public facilities violates children's rights and affects their psycho-social development, the CPA said.

Bolinget added that red baiting of indigenous leaders and activists continue. He cited the psychological and physical torture of a resident of Tinoc, Ifugao in the hands of soldiers in July 2012. In October 2012, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) received a Target List with logos of Charlie Company of the 86th Battalion of the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. The Target List bears 28 names of civilians, including the secretary general of the CHRA Jude Baggo.

The CPA and KAMP forwarded their recommendations to the UNPFII for the Philippine government to uphold UNDRIP and fulfill its international human rights obligations; to end Oplan Bayanihan and pull out military troops from IP communities; for UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous People Prof. James Anaya to visit the country and conduct investigations; to push for an effective and speedy mechanism of prosecuting and convicting perpetrators of rights violations;

The groups also called for the revocation of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and Executive Order 79 and enactment of an alternative people's mining bill and to support the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are considered in the peace negotiations. Northern Dispatch


Despite protests, mining firm starts operations in Kalinga

By Alma B. Sinumlag

Northern Dispatch

14 May 2013

TABUK CITY, Kalinga - Angered and disgusted with the recent intrusion of Cordillera Exploration Company Inc. (CEXCI) [owned by Nickel Asia] in their hometown, residents of Tawang village, Balbalan sought help from the office of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Kalinga to stop the mining activities of CEXCI in the village.

The residents brought with them a report of their inspection in the mine site and a petition to stop CEXCI's mine operation. They told CPA-Kalinga and the Northern Dispatch that they want the mine firm out of their land because its operation is already polluting their water sources and killing their environment.

The Timpuyog Dagiti Mannalon iti Tawang (TMTA), a group of 62 men and women from the mine affected communities of villages Aciga, Bassao, Mabnawag, and Tawang Proper who trooped to the mine site and made an actual inspection in the ongoing exploration activities of the said mine firm "in the watershed of Kanagsian Brook" prepared a brief inspection report.

The TMTA report showed that there were already 14 holes drilled aside from the holes in the first site. Five bunkhouses were already built. Moreover, a tailings pond was constructed and is flowing to Tawang brook which residents blamed for the death of two horses that drunk from the brook. One carabao, the report said, is also dying. Also in the site were various sizes of drilling pipes.

The report added that on the group's way to the site, they met men carrying drilling pipes. The group talked to the men and found out that these men would replace the drilling pipes to bigger and longer ones that can drill up to the sea level. Imelda Lote of the TMTA asked the men who they are and their connection to the mining company. The men claimed that they are from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and they are there to monitor the operations. Lote then asked the DENR why are they not stopping the activities of CEXCI despite the protests. The employees of DENR answered that it is only an exploration.

Lote further asked the DENR where they are planning to relocate the residents. The latter, however, answered in what the protesters said as disrespectful by saying, "to planet Venus."

On the other hand, one lady from the mine affected protesters asked for the identification card of the person they were talking to and found out that they are from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Baguio City.

The residents who went to the office of CPA Kalinga are strongly calling for the immediate stoppage of mining activities in their barangay to stop the destruction of their ancestral land especially that the mine firm is already drilling within their watershed area.

TMTA believes that CEXCI is not just conducting exploration activities. Instead, it is already conducting actual mining activities. Further, TIMTA said that the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) for the exploration was secured fraudulently.

On December 10, 2012 in the initial inspection made by TMTA in the mine site, the group already appealed to the concerned officials to stop the exploration.

Meanwhile, in August last year, CEXCI constructed laboratory buildings without building permit, environmental clearance and FPIC in the jurisdiction of Nambaran, Tabuk City. This project was welcomed by protest actions of the community for the fear that the laboratory would pollute the Alyog creek and for not recognizing the rights of the community for FPIC since the residents affected with the project are indigenous peoples belonging to the Tulgao tribe. Northern Dispatch


PH govt challenged to decommission Philex Dam and stop large-scale mining ops along Agno River

Kalikasan PNE press release

29 May 2013

The environmental activist group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) today challenged the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III to hold accountable Philex Mining Corporation for its negative impacts to the San Roque Multipurpose Dam and the Agno River during the massive mine spills of its Padcal Mines in Benguet back in August to September of 2012.

"We fully support the demand of the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) to make Philex pay the government for the damages and harm it caused to San Roque Multipurpose Dam and its related facilities. It is a public asset and the tailings dumped there by Philex will definitely affect the livelihood, health and water supply of the residents of Benguet and Pangasinan provinces," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

NAPOCOR is demanding PHP6.42 billion pesos from Philex, the country's biggest mining corporation owned by Manuel Pangilinan. NAPOCOR estimated that 13.5 million metric tons of mine waste damaged the watershed and deposited in San Roque dam.

"The mine spills were clearly a result of Philex's greed. Before the mine spill, its tailings pond TP3 has already exceeded its life span making it structurally unfit for mining operations. But Philex continued to use it in their operations which led to its failure and release of massive amounts of toxic mine waste into the environment," Bautista said.

Philex paid the PHP 1.1 billion fine imposed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau for dumping 20 million metric tons of mine tailings along Agno River.

"Until now Philex has not made any significant clean-up activities in the river and refuses to pay the PHP 180 million fine imposed by the Pollution Adjudication Board for the water pollution it caused during its mines spills," Bautista pointed out.

"Kung gusto natin maiwasan ang ganitong trahedya sa kalikasan hindi na dapat muling pahintulutan na magbukas ang Philex ng kanyang operasyon sa Padcal, Benguet. More so, we should demand Philex to immediately decommission its Tapian Dam 3 and fully rehabilitate the Agno River," Bautista ended.#

--
CLEMENTE BAUTISTA
National Coordinator
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Website: www.kalikasan.net


Mines bureau: Let Philex, NPC talk first on alleged Padcal impact on San Roque watershed

GMANews Network

29 May 2013

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) will not yet step into the dispute between the National Power Corp. (NPC) and Philex Mining Corp. on the alleged impact of the Padcal mine tailings leakage on the San Roque Watershed Reservation.

However, the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), an alliance of communities affected by mining operations and of non-governmental organizations wants the MGB to act urgently.

"NPC is a government-owned corporation, we will also decide on what to do with the issue, however, we are letting the two parties discuss and defend their claims first before we intervene," MGB director Leo Jasareno said in an interview with news media.

The ATM wants transparency and urged the MGB to facilitate talks between Philex and NPC.

"We expect the MGB and Philex to be fully transparent, specifically on reporting to the public how the impacts of the mine tailings is being addressed. They should stop misleading the public about their rehabilitation work and include containing mine wastes in the San Roque reservoir," said Jaybee Garganera, ATM national coordinator.

NPC has sought compensation and penalties amounting to P6.4 billion for damages it claims resulted from the August 2012 Padcal mine tailings leakage.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Philex Mining said it has asked NPC to substantiate its claims.

Philex also said its possible liability to NPC "is not material in the event the NPC claims can be legally and factually substantiated." - ELR, GMA News


Ilocos Sur folk dare administration to stop ‘illegal' black-sand mining

Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

29 May 2013

ASIDE from gold smuggling, the Aquino administration is faced with challenge of stopping the illegal extraction of magnetite sand, also known as black sand, which threatens several coastal towns in the Ilocos Region.

Residents of Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur, have expressed concern against the potential adverse impact of the illegal activities to people and the environment, particularly in the coastal communities in the province.

Through letters and petitions, they appealed to President Aquino to look into and put a stop to the illegal activities.

In Santa Catalina alone, residents of coastal barangays are up in arms as they complain against land subsidence and coastal erosion, some reaching up to 100 meters from the beaches.

Experts said the massive extraction of black sand makes coastal areas more fragile and highly susceptible to sea-level rise and tidal waves triggered by earthquakes.

Black sand contains iron and other metallic minerals used to make steel. The Philippines is richly endowed with black sand and the increasing demand for black sand, particularly in China, has also increased incidence of illegal black-sand mining operations in various parts of the Ilocos Region.

Black-sand mining operations have been previously reported in Cagayan, particularly the Cagayan River, and in coastal towns in Pangasinan.

Melchor P. Ines, convener of the Ilocos Sur Collective Action for the Protection of the Environment (Iscape), and Fr. Albert Rabe, parish priest of San Juan, Ilocos Sur, led the group that met with Director Leo Jasareno of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), to reiterate the group's appeal to help put an end to the illegal activities.

The group represents residents, workers, fishermen, farmers, youth and religious leaders, who oppose the massive extraction of black sand in the coastal towns of Ilocos Sur.

The group has been vocal about the illegal activity and blew the whistle concerning the alleged connivance between mining companies, local officials and law-enforcement agencies in the province.

Apparently, Ines said the illegal activities are happening with the blessing of powerful and influential people that even local officials in coastal municipalities are turning a blind eye.

Ines said despite their complaints and repeated demand to put a stop to the illegal activities as early as February, mining companies in connivance with local officials continue to haul black sand which are being smuggled out of the country.

According to Ines, the illegal extraction of black-sand along rivers and beaches in the Ilocos Region had been happening since 2008.

Beaches are supposed to be "no-go zones" for black-sand mining under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

No-go zones specifically identifies sea shore areas within 200 meters from the shorelines.

He said that before, the illegal activities were discreetly being conducted. "Today," he lamented, "that it is being conducted as if it is not against the law and do not threaten people and environment."

"We have already sent letters to President Aquino three times about the illegal activities. Nothing happened," he said.

"Nothing is happening. We don't know what to do to stop this," he told reporters during a news conference at the MGB office.

Jasareno, in an interview, said he had already asked the NBI in Manila to look into the illegal activities. "We are waiting for the NBI to act on it," he said.

The MGB chief said that black sand mining in Ilocos Sur is illegal, noting that it has not issued any permit to any company for its extraction.

The only permit issued to a Chinese company by the MGB allowed black sand mining in McArthur, Leyte, but even such operation was ordered stopped last year by the MGB owing to several violations of its mining permit.

"Black-sand mining is not illegal, as long as it is being conducted not in no-go zones," Jasareno said.

Apparently, he said photos and videos shown to him by Ines confirms that the extraction of black sand in coastal areas, are without permit, and are being conducted in no-go zones.

Ines, for his part, was puzzled as to why the police and the NBI, which even conducted a surveillance operation last month and confirmed the illegal activities, are not doing their job, considering that the extraction of black sand is not only illegal, but are being smuggled out of the country.


Ilocos Sur is helpless against illegal black sand mining - stakeholders

GMANews Network

29 May 2013

Illegal miners continue to extract black sand from Ilocos Sur, exporting the commodity out of the country placing coastal areas and the people at risk of erosion, according to a priest, an environmental group, and the Mines Bureau.

The group has brought their plea to the Mines and Geo sciences Bureau (MGB), whose geohazard mapping showed the coastal areas are vulnerable to wind and water erosion which makes sand mining a prohibited activity.

Black sand contains iron and metallic minerals for making steel.

In an interview with reporters, MGB director Leo Jasareno said black sand mining in Ilocos Sur is illegal. The bureau has ordered a blanket moratorium on permits for processing black sand in the province, the mining chief noted.

In Sta. Catalina, residents have been complaining of subsidence-a gradual caving in or sinking of an area of land-and coastal erosion of up to 100 meters from the beaches, according to stakeholders.

"Through letters and petitions, we have appealed to President Benigno Aquino III to put a stop to the illegal activity," said Melchor P. Ines, Ilocos Sur Collective Action for the Protection of the Environment (ISCAPE) convenor.

"Nothing is happening. We don't know what to do to stop this," he said.

Fr. Albert Rabe, parish priest of San Juan, Ilocos Sur also asked Jasareno to help put an end to the illegal activity.

Rabe and Ines also told reporters they have sought the help of Malacañang, and already wrote three letters to President Aquino. So far, the Palace has not responded to them.

Ines claimed mining companies continue to haul black sand from coastal areas and ship the commodity out of the country-likely a case of smuggling-while local officials turn their cheeks the other way around. The ISCAPE convenor alleged that some local officials are likely in connivance with the mining companies, considering that no action has been taken despite the repeated complaints and demands of residents to stop black sand mining in the area.

The illegal extraction of black sand along the rivers and beaches of Ilocos Region has been going on since 2008, Ines noted.

While black sand mining isn't illegal, Jasareno said Ilocos Sur is "... a no-go zone."

What is frustrating, according to the mining chief is that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was already informed of the illegal activities going on in Ilocos Sur.

"We are waiting for the NBI to act on it," he said.

Jasareno identified Taiwanese-owned Wellresource Mining Co. as actively operating in Ilocos Sur. The bureau will pursue legal action against Wellresource and recommend that it be blacklisted before concerned offices, he said.

MGB Region I has been ordered to strictly monitor black sand extraction and transport activities in the province, Jasareno added. - VS, GMA News


Endorsement for Tampakan project under new SouthCot execs unlikely

By Bong S. Sarmiento

Mindanews

20 May 2013

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/20 May)- The ban on open pit mining in South Cotabato will remain a major stumbling block to the effort of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) to operate the Tampakan project with the election of the new set of provincial officials during the May 13 polls.

This after Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes (second district), who has been elected as the new governor, vowed to implement the ban on open-pit mining in the next three years, or until 2016.

It was Fuentes who signed the controversial Environment Code that bans open-pit mining before stepping down as governor in 2010 after completing three straight terms.

Fuentes (Nationalist People's Coalition) defeated incumbent Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. (United Nationalist Alliance) on Monday's elections on a vote of 117,855 and 111,214, respectively, or a margin of 6,641 votes.

"I will implement the provisions of the Environment Code that bans open-pit mining," Fuentes said, noting she was the one who signed the controversial measure.

During Pingoy's term, he implemented the open-pit ban signed by Fuentes, despite lobbying from the company and pro-mining groups for him to disregard the prohibition.

The pro-mining groups failed to have the open-pit ban lifted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or provincial board so far.

The new set of elected officials will take over on June 30, 2013.

During the campaign period, Fuentes and Pingoy also vowed to ensure that the ban on open-pit mining will stay.

Efforts of SMI to develop the Tampakan copper, touted as the largest known undeveloped copper reserve in Southeast Asia, has been hobbled by the open-pit mining ban imposed by South Cotabato.

In December last year, the company announced that it was moving the start of commercial operation from 2016 to 2019. Among the major challenges the company cited facing its operation was the open-pit ban in South Cotabato.

Last February, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources granted SMI an environmental compliance certificate (ECC), after rejecting it twice last year on the ground of the open-pit mining prohibition of South Cotabato.

As set by the ECC, an endorsement from the provincial government is among the other requirements needed by the firm before it can proceed to commercial production.

MindaNews contacted SMI spokesman John Arnaldo for comments on the company's view on the matter, given the new set of officials, at 9:30 a.m. Monday but he asked for half an hour to issue a statement.

Arnaldo got back with an emailed statement at 1:19 p.m., "congratulating Fuentes on her successful election as the new South Cotabato Provincial Governor."

"With the passage of the Aquino Administration's National Mining Policy and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum directing that all local legislations be consistent with the national mining law, we hope that through continued dialogue with incoming Governor Fuentes and the rest of the South Cotabato provincial government officials, there will be a timely resolution to the open-pit ban in the South Cotabato Environment Code," he said.

"We have worked with Congressman (sic) Fuentes in a number of development programs in South Cotabato, and we will continue to engage with her and the rest of the provincial government officials as their local stakeholder and development partner," Arnaldo said.

As to the new set of composition of the provincial board, five party mates each of Fuentes and Pingoy won seats.

The winning bets were Gly Mariano Trabado (NPC), Romeo Tamayo (NPC) and Jobee Baitus (UNA) for the first district, and Vicente de Jesus (NPC), Ester Catorce (UNA), Grace Subere-Albios (NPC), Ervin Luntao (UNA), Agustin Demaala (NPC), Romulo Solivio (UNA) and Samuel Ladot (UNA) for the second district.

The vice governor-elect is Cecile Diel, an ally of Pingoy, who is the board's presiding officer and could be the vote that could break any tie.

An incumbent board member, Diel, however vowed to protect the environment code as part of her platform of governance during the campaign period.

Fuentes said that while five of her party mates won seats to the provincial board, the ex-officio members for the leagues of councilors, barangay captains and the Sangguniang Kabataan are also her allies.


No-mining map to be implemented in June

By Ellalyn B. De Vera

Manila Bulletin

27 May 2013

The no-mining zone map, which identify areas open or closed to mining activities, is expected to be implemented by next month, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said.

"The no-go zone map is now being finalized by the technical working group (TWG) assigned by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC). It is expected to be operational by June of this year, which means that very soon we will put to rest the debate on which areas are open or closed to mining," MGB Director Engr. Leo Jasareno said. MGB is an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

"The map will make us decide whether or not a particular portion of the country is open or closed to mining. Since it is an integrated map, it will also contain the additional areas closed to mining as provided by Executive Order (EO) 79, like agricultural lands, tourism sites, and critical habitat, among others," he added.

Executive Order (EO) 79 was issued on July 6, 2012 by President Benigno S. Aquino III to institutionalize mining reforms in the country, as well as to ensure environmental protection and responsible mining in utilizing mineral resources.

Under the implementing rules and regulations of EO 79, areas banned from mining have been expanded to include tourism development areas identified not only in the National Tourism Development Plan but also in local development plans.

Other areas where mining are not allowed include those that have been expressly provided for in Republic Act (RA) 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act; protected areas established under the RA 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System; prime agricultural lands, lands covered by RA 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law as amended, plantations and areas devoted to valuable crops, and strategic agriculture and fisheries development zones and fish refuge and sanctuaries declared as such by the Department of Agriculture; and other critical areas, island ecosystems and impact areas of mining that the DENR may identify pursuant to existing laws, rules and regulations.

Jasareno also said the TWG assigned to prepare a new revenue sharing scheme is set to present in the next MICC meeting on June 3. "It is envisaged that a draft bill on such new revenue sharing scheme shall be filed in the Congress of the Philippines as soon as it resumes session in July," he said.

The multi-sectoral team in every region of the MGB is also set to be established by June. "This team will be reviewing the performance of existing mining operations within its regional scope every two years, focusing on environmental compliance," he added.

During the Philippine Mining Forum dubbed "Mindanao Mining Agenda: Socio-Economic Transformation" led by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP) and held in Quezon CityMonday, Jasareno reported that at present, of the 397 mining contracts and permits issued by the national government as of April, 123 or 31 percent are situated in Mindanao.

These include 106 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) out of 339, 16 exploration permits out of 52 and one financial or technical assistance agreement (FTAA) out of six.

"The figures on operating metallic mines are more interesting for Mindanao. Out of the 38 operating metallic mines of the country as of May, 20 or 53 percent are in Mindanao," Jasareno said.

Also of the country's major mining projects in the making, three are in Mindanao, namely Tampakan copper-gold project of Sagittarius Mines inc. in South Cotabato, Boyongan-Bayugo copper-gold project of a group led by Philex Mining Corp. in Surigao del Norte, and the Kingking copper-gold project of Nationwide Development Corporation in Compostela Valley.

He also reported that MGB has started accepting mining applications last March 18 after a moratorium of almost two years, where 16 exploration permit applications or 29 percent of the 56 accepted so far are situated in Mindanao.


Mining output plunged 18% in 2012

Small-scale gold miners' sales to BSP down 93%

By Riza T. Olchondra

Philippine Daily Inquirer

18 May 2013

The value of metal production in the country dropped by nearly a fifth last year due to taxation issues, delays in mining legislation that would pave the way for new projects, the suspension of some large operations and the continued opposition of certain sectors to various forms of mining.

Data on 2012 metallic mineral production from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) showed that the total output value plunged 18.04 percent to P100.8 billion in 2012 from P122.98 billion in 2011.

MGB director Leo Jasareno said that metal prices were generally lower in 2012 than in the previous year. However, as per MGB data, the decline in the value of the Philippines' metal production was largely due to lower documented output especially of gold, copper and other metals. Jasareno was tightlipped on the role of delays in the ratification of a mineral revenue-sharing legislation that the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) had targeted to be ready by June this year.

Gold output value dropped 44 percent to P35 billion from P63 billion, MGB said in its 2012 report, mostly because of small-scale miners shifting to nondocumented buyers. The MGB said in its report that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported a 93-percent plunge in the "documented output" of small-scale miners, as reflected by purchases of the central bank. This pulled down overall gold production value.

"The imposition by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) of the collection of the 2-percent excise tax and 5-percent creditable withholding tax from small-scale gold producers/traders pursuant to Revenue Regulations No. 6-2012 dated April 2, 2012, caused producers/traders to sell their gold products to other buyers," the MGB reported.

Nickel and chromite made hefty gains of 36 percent and 52 percent, respectively, but not enough to make up for the losses in other minerals. "In terms of percentage contribution to the total production value, nickel sulphides and direct-shipping ore continued to rule the production scene with a lion's share of 46 percent or P46.03 billion," the MGB reported.

Gold followed with a 35-percent share at P35 billion. Copper trailed behind, contributing 15 percent or P15.55 billion (down 19 percent from P19 billion). The rest came from silver (up 20 percent to P2.5 billion), zinc (down 24 percent to P791.8 million), chromite (up 52 percent to P221 million) and iron (down 15 percent to P607 million).

In 2012, among those that joined the production stream were the Siana gold project of Greenstone Resources Corp in Surigao del Norte; the Sta. Cruz nickel venture of Eramen Minerals Inc. in Zambales; the nickel-chromite project of Sinosteel Philippines H.Y. Mining Corp. on Dinagat island, and the Camachin iron ore project of Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp. in Bulacan.

In contrast, among those that were suspended in 2012 were the Padcal copper-gold project of Philex Mining Corp. in Benguet province; the Nonoc nickel project of Shuley Mines Inc./Pacific Nickel Philippines Inc. in Surigao Del Norte; the Leyte magnetite project of Nicua Corp. in Leyte, and the Paracale gold project of Johson Gold Mining Corp. in Camarines Norte.

Investors have long been waiting for a draft bill on revenue sharing, which MICC officials from the Finance and Energy departments said might set the government's share at 7 to 10 percent of gross earnings and windfall earnings of mining firms. Once approved, the enlarged government share from mining revenues would replace the 2-percent excise tax as well as other taxes imposed on mining firms such as corporate income tax, customs duties and fees on imported capital equipment. It remains to be seen, however, whether the proposed expanded government share would be acceptable to local and foreign investors who have already started exploring mining opportunities in other countries.


Mining reform bill a priority in next Congress

by Rappler.com

14 May 2013

EO 79 was issued by President Benigno Aquino III on July 6, 2012 EO 79 was issued by President Benigno Aquino III on July 6, 2012

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino government will pursue the mining reform bill as a priority measure in Congress in the last 3 years of the Aquino administration.

The Aquino government will push for this, as well as the fiscal incentives measure and the bill creating the Bangsamoro area, after the May 13 mid-term elections and when Congress resumes session in July.

Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang stressed this in a Rappler interview on May 12, citing the need for support from members of the two chambers so the government could further its anti-corruption and anti-poverty plans.

"We are planning to rationalize revenues on mining and fiscal incentives, as well as the Organic Law, and if we have a more supportive Congress and Senate, it wouldn't be so difficult for us to pass [these]," he said.

The Department of Finance (DOF) also said it will pursue revenue reform measures, including the mining reform bill.

DOF has been pushing for the passing of the mining revenue bill even before the midterm elections to jumpstart the ailing mining industry and haul more revenues to the government.

"What we want is a fairer (law) and (one that would translate) to more equitable sharing of revenues," Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a statement on May 10.

In December, the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), the joint committee tasked to draft the new legislation for mining, said it is studying two options for a new revenue-sharing scheme between the government and the mining industry.

However, the council is yet to decide on a final single fiscal regime and a simple formula in determining the sharing scheme that eliminates valuation issues and costs of production.

Malampaya project

Earlier, Purisima lobbied for a scheme similar to the revenue sharing in the Malampaya deep-water-to-gas project in offshore Palawan.

The Malampaya project, headed by Department of Energy (DOE) and developed and operated by Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) with joint venture partners Chevron Malampaya LLC and the Philippine National Oil Company Exploration Corporation, turned over $1.1 billion to the government in 2012.

Under the service contract agreement, 70% of the gross proceeds from the sale of natural gas would go to the contractor to cover the investment cost.

The remaining 30% will be shared between the government and the consortium on a 60-40 basis. Once the contractor recovers its investments, the 30% share would then increase, allowing the government to gain from these petroleum projects.

Purisima is also determined to push for other bills in the next Congress including the so-called fiscal incentives bill to streamline the tax perks given to businesses, among others.

He is also lobbying for the amendment of some constitutional provisions allowing certain sectors to opened to foreign investors despite the passing of Executive Order 98 listing certain industries that are off-limits to foreigners. - Rappler.com

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