MANILA, Philippines - The government is reviewing the applications of 68 cement companies for the expansion of limestone quarry areas.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno said the applications were submitted in December to the Economic Development Cluster of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) for review.
"The mining policy allows the expansion of certain areas recommended [by] the Economic Development Cluster...We are just waiting for the decision of the cluster which among those applications would be allowed to expand their areas," Jasareno said.
"Whatever is endorsed by the cluster, we will process the expansion of their Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) areas."
The applications are being reviewed in accordance with a provision in the New Mining Policy.
According to the policy, also known as the Executive Order No 79, no new mineral agreements shall be entered into until a law rationalizing the existing revenue sharing scheme between the government and mining companies has been passed.
Industry subsectors that produce commodities that are important to government projects and economic activities are exempted from the moratorium as recommended by the Economic Development Cluster headed by Finance Secretary Cesar Pursima, which comprises half of the MICC.
In the case of cement companies, this covers mostly public infrastructure.
Most of the companies that applied for expansion of quarry areas have not yet established cement plants. Those that have existing plants in the country are Holcim Philippines, Cemex Philippines, and Lafarge Republic Inc.
Jasareno said that the other cement companies may just be waiting to secure the raw materials for their operations before establishing plants.
"The purpose of the mining policy is to ensure that the infrastructure projects of the government are not delayed by paying attention to the cement needs of the country," he said.
During the formation of the New Mining Policy early this year, the Cement Manufacturers' Association of the Philippines expressed apprehension that the cement industry will be adversely affected by the moratorium. – Rappler.com