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Mining News August 28, 2017 03:30:23 PM

Philippines Extends Mining Ban to Watershed Areas

Paul Ploumis
ScrapMonster Author
In addition, the duration of mineral agreements will be reduced from 25 years to 10 years.
Philippines Extends Mining Ban to Watershed Areas

SEATTLE (Scrap Monster):  The Philippines lawmakers intend to bring in fresh restrictions on mining activities in the country. The 16-page bill proposed by 22 congressmen proposes further toughening of mining regulations. The House Bill No. 6259 is led by Pantaleon Alvarez, the speaker of the House of Representatives, who is considered to be a close aide of President Rodrigo Duterte.

According to lawmakers, the bill is intended to create a more rigid and transparent mechanism for controlling mining activities in the country. It will strictly prevent undeserving companies from obtaining mining permit. To this effect, the companies will have to obtain legislative approval before they can commence operations. The pre-requisite of legislative approval will in turn help the government to extract more benefits from mining operations and exercise more controls on mining activities through active participation of elected representatives. All companies that currently hold mining license are required to obtain legislative approval within one year from the date of implementation of the new law. It must be noted that mining licenses are currently issued by the environment and mining agencies.

In addition, the duration of mineral agreements will be reduced from 25 years to 10 years. Also, companies are required to ensure that the mined areas are rehabilitated within ten years from the expiry of mining permit.

The new bill proposes to expand ban on mining activity to watershed areas. The new bill will amend the 1995 Philippine mining law which bans mining in proclaimed watersheds by adding ‘watersheds, in general, as well as critical watersheds’. The policy to ban mining in all watersheds was initially introduced by Regina Lopez, the former environment minister. In an attempt to lend a helping hand to the domestic mineral processing industry in the country, the bill seeks to ban the export of unprocessed mineral ores.

Ever since coming into power last year, President Rodrigo Duterte has been in pursuit of stricter mining regulations. The audit led by former Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez had led to shutdown of more than 40 mines in the country, including nine nickel-producing mines. In a bid to reduce environmental damage caused by mining activities, the country had imposed a ban on open-pit mining in the country in April.

Incidentally, Philippines is regarded as home to rich mineral resources worth around $1.4 trillion. However, estimates indicate that mining as a sector contributes only 0.7% of country’s GDP.

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