MANILA, Philippines - The much-awaited executive order (E.O.) on mining is finally out.
Based on the copy of the signed EO obtained by Rappler on Monday, July 9, these are the key items:
- On the revenue sharing scheme -- which is the most contentious aspect of the EO -- the government will work to legislate a rationalization of the current scheme and mechanisms. Meantime, the EO imposes a moratorium on the approval of new mineral agreements. "No new mineral agreements shall be entered into until a legislation rationalizing existing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms shall have taken effect," the EO said. The government of Pres. Benigno Aquino III has a year left before the current 15th Congress ends, but Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said in a Palace press briefing they will try to have this mining bill certified as urgent. This provision of the EO affects several pending permits by various mining investors, including those that have already completed exploration activities.
- Small scale mining activities will be limited to areas declared as "Minahang Bayan," in effect also limiting most areas where there are nickel operations. Most nickel miners operate on small scale permits as they await approval for their permits for medium or large-scale operations. The EO said, "Small scale shall not be applicable for metallic minerals except gold, silver, and chromite."
- To address environmental concerns, the EO bans the use of mercury in small scale mining, which, in turn, will have to be part of a specific "Minahang Bayan" area. "We need to contain the waste so we can treat them efficiently," Paje explained.
- Three types of areas will be added to the current no-go zones for mining. These are (a) tourism destinations, which total around 78 sites identified by the Department of Tourism based on the National Tourism Development Plan, (b) agricultural lands, including an area in Leyte (c) island ecosystems identified by the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS)
- A Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) is created to implement the EO and other industry reforms, conduct dialogue with stakeholders, and review all existing mining-related laws and rules. The council will be co-chaired by the chairpersons of the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and the Economic Development clusters of the Cabinet. Other members will include the Justice Secretary, the chairperson of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP). The MICC will work with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to complete the implementing rules and regulations of the EO within 60 days.
- On the primacy of national laws, particularly Republic Act No. 7492 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, the local government units that host mining operations are "directed to…conform to the regulations, decisions and policies…promulgated and taken by the National Government."
- All existing mining contracts, agreements and concessions approved before the effectivity of the EO are stil considered valid. However, it added that the "DENR (environment department) shall likewise undertake a review of existing mining contracts and agreements for possible renegotiation of the terms and conditions of the same, which shall in all cases be mutually acceptable to the government and the mining contractor."
- For better transparency and governance, the DENR will commit to participate in and implement the global standards specified by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), and create a centralized industry database and a map system.
Below is the signed EO.
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