MICC lifts ban on open pit mining

The MICC on Thursday called for the lifting of the ban issued by former environment secretary Gina Lopez after a majority of the panel voted “to lift the ban provided that mining laws, rules and regulations are strictly enforced.”

Business News  | 

MANILA, Philippines — The mining industry scored a victory after the inter-agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) recommended the lifting of the open pit ban in the country, saying the local sector is now poised for a more sound investment climate.

The MICC on Thursday called for the lifting of the ban issued by former environment secretary Gina Lopez after a majority of the panel voted “to lift the ban provided that mining laws, rules and regulations are strictly enforced.”

 Six months after the order, the mining industry received a favorable response since environment chief Roy Cimatu said his department will follow the recommendation.

 

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While the MICC decision remains recommendatory to the DENR, Cimatu said he would heed the advice of the council and would issue a department order restoring the open pit mining method.

“We see this as a positive development for the industry. This will improve the investment climate of mining in the Philippines and lift the uncertainties for key projects,” Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) executive director Ronald Recidoro told The STAR in a phone interview.

Among the biggest prospective open pit mines are the $2-billion Pangilinan-led Silangan mine in Surigao del Norte and the $5.9-billion Tampakan project in South Cotabato, dubbed as potentially the country’s biggest foreign investment and believed to be one of the largest gold prospects in the world.

“It will send positive signal to investors espcially on the large scale metallic open pit mines. This underwent a thorough review process and we believe the decision is grounded on the evidence, science and technology, and facts,” Recidoro said.

The MICC recommendation is also expected to be presented before the Cabinet by early next month.

“The lifting of ban on open-pit mining hopefully to be implemented before yearend,” Cimatu said.

For the past few months, the MICC has been convening with theTechnical Working Group on Economic Affairs and Environment to discuss the technicalities of the open-pit mining method.

The Chamber lauded Cimatu for his decision, saying the industry will soon be out of the uncertainties that it is facing since Lopez took over the DENR.

“Cimatu said he defer to the opinion of the experts and I think that’s what he is doing. He admitted that he has not fully grasp the industry, so he listens to the experts,” Recidoro said.

While the industry earned a positive result from the MICC, the Chamber said it will continue to police its ranks and improve its overall standards.

“We will improve our self regulation and really discuss changes in the revenue sharing scheme,” Recidoro said.

He added that COMP members will continue to push its members to exemplify best practices in mining as it adopts Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) program, which identifies the protocols to drive performance and ensures that key mining risks are managed responsibly.

“They [Canada’s TSM officials] will conduct intensive workshops to our members by December to teach them how to really do it. We will also sign a MOA (memorandum of agreement) to follow their standards and framework and implement it here,” Recidoro said.

Furthermore, open-pit mining remains to be an internationally accepted method for mining and in the country, it is a legal in accordance to the Mining Act of the Philippines. The Constitution even gives the state the duty to explore, develop, and utilize the country’s mineral resources. – With Mary Grace Padin

 

SOURCE: http://www.philstar.com/business/2017/10/25/1752036/micc-lifts-ban-open-pit-mining

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