MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Alvarez Opens 65 Mining Sites

Published by MAC on 2007-07-28
Source: Manila Standard

Alvarez opens 65 mining sites

By Fel V. Maragay, Manila Standard -

28th July 2007

The government will open up 65 more mining sites or tenements to investors in line with its policy to maximize the potentials of the country’s mining industry.

Former Senator Heherson Alvarez, newly appointed chairman of the Philippine Mining Development Corp., said one of his primary tasks is to encourage investors to develop the 65 non-performing mining tenements that were cancelled. These sites cover 68,000 hectares of mineral lands.

Alvarez, also a former secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, was named by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as PMDC chairman on the same day she signed Executive Order 636, transferring the agency from the environment department to the Office of the President.

PMDC is a government-owned and -controlled corporation tasked to revitalize the country’s minerals-mining industry as a source of wealth to fight poverty.

“I welcome my appointment and I am looking forward to creating wealth for our people from the bosom of the Earth but with due respect to the environment,” Alvarez said.

“We will push for sustainable development in the mining sector while adhering to the principles of responsible mining, strict enforcement of environmental and mining laws, protection for indigenous peoples, and sharing of benefits for all stakeholders.”

Alvarez succeeds Secretary Angelo Reyes as PMDC chairman. Reyes will be replaced as environment secretary by former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza effective Aug. 1. Reyes will assume his new post as Energy secretary.

Rolando Butalid remains as PMDC president, according to Alvarez’s office.

Alvarez said he would lead the management of the country’s mineral assets, geared toward making the Philippines a world mining leader by 2010 in line with the President’s vision to transform the Philippines into a First World country in 20 year’s time.

PMDC was transferred to the Office of the President “to closely monitor and oversee the efficient and effective implementation of the utilization and development of the country’s mineral resources.”

At the seventh Asia-Pacific Mining Conference and Exhibition last month, the President said the mining industry will serve as a leading engine of the country’s economic growth, and a source of revenue and wealth to help the government bring down the poverty incidence.

Income from the mining sector is projected at $2 billion by the end of 2007, rising to $10 billion if the targeted mining investments are realized.

The Philippines is the world’s fifth richest country in terms of mineral resources. For 2007 alone, investments in the mining industry have already reached more than $500 million.

As environment secretary in 2001, Alvarez proposed and the President signed Proclamation 297 declaring Diwalwal in Compostela Valley a Mineral Reservation Area under the management of the environment department. He then organized cooperatives that included indigenous groups and crafted a sharing scheme of 85 percent—15 percent in favor of smaller miners and their families numbering about 20,000.

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