Gov’t aims for optimum but careful mineral wealth dev’t
BAGUIO CITY — Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Wilfredo Moncado said the government aims for the optimum development of the country’s mineral resources while protecting and enhancing both the environment and people’s lives.
“As the regulator of the Philippine mining industry, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ensures the optimum development of the country’s mineral resources through various policy issuances designed to make mining technically feasible, environmentally compliant, socially acceptable, and financially viable,” Moncano said in his message during the Mineral Industry Symposium of the 65th Annual Mining Safety and Environment Conference in Camp John Hay on Thursday.
Moncano said the mining industry has issues and concerns but noted that the government’s policy directions are for the people’s welfare.
Among the sector’s problems, he pointed out, are the lack of baseline data, policy inconsistencies between national and local laws, governance and law enforcement, lack of total economic valuation, increasing government share in mining revenues, and adverse effects of environmental degradation and climate change.
However, the government official said responsible mining is people-oriented, providing people with decent jobs and benefits to host communities, with strong monitoring of mining operations and enforcement of laws, protecting and enhancing the environment, and giving a fair share to the national income.
Moncano reported that in 2017, the total taxes and fees paid by mining companies totaled PHP12.9 billion, while Indigenous Peoples (IP) royalties were pegged at PHP793.4 million.
In his presentation titled, “Status, Challenges, and Directions of the Philippine Mining Industry”, Moncano cited some government initiatives to ensure optimum but careful use of the country’s natural resources. One of these is Executive Order No. 79, which gives a moratorium on the grant of mineral agreements and expansion of areas of operation.
He also mentioned the issuance of Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017-07, which requires mining contractors to follow the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a global standard promoting open and accountable management of oil, gas, and mineral resources.
The other initiatives, Moncano said, were the banning of open-pit mining method for copper, gold, silver, among others; establishment of the performance rating system through scorecards to determine the compliance level of mining contractors/permittees or permit holders; and guidelines for additional environmental measures for operating surface metallic mines.
To date, Moncano said, there are 48 metallic mines operating in the country — 30 nickel mines, eight gold mines, three copper mines, three chromite mines, and four iron mines. **Primo Agatep/ PNA