Paje signs 'final' mining rules
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The revised rules to implement the mining policy of the Aquino government was finally signed on Monday, October 8.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje signed Administrative Order No. 2012-07-A to introduce the amendments to the controversial implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Malacañang's Executive Order 79 (EO 79).
Changes were made, among others, on Sections 7 and 9 of the IRR, which will take effect 15 days after publication.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau Leo Jasareno said the IRR revisions are already "final."
The revisions came after mining companies blasted the government for the original IRR's "patently illegal" provisions.
These provisions include the no new mining permit policy (Section 7); and the cut in the term of mining contracts from 50 to 25 years (Section 9).
Other contentious issues in the IRR that were however not addressed by the revised rules are the no-go areas or those barred from any mining activities, and the primacy of national laws over local ordinances.
No new permits
Section 7 of the IRR prohibits the issuance of new mining permits until a law rationalizing the revenue-sharing scheme between government and mining firms is approved by Congress.
This section was reworded to allow the expansion of mining areas if necessary to avoid "economic dislocation."
Taken into consideration in the revision was the concern of cement companies that they might experience production shortfall if they would not be allowed to expand their quarry areas.
Earlier, cement companies expressed fear that they would be "collateral damage" in the moratorium since they regularly get permits to access indigenous raw materials for their manufacturing process.
Section 9 of the IRR, on the other hand, was revised to remove the condition that mining companies would have to renegotiate their contracts after their first 25 years of operations.
The industry had argued that this section shortened their project period from the maximum of 50 years guaranteed by law.
The revision maintained there would be no automatic renewal of contracts after the first 25 years. However, it said contracts shall be renewed "subject to existing laws, rules, and regulations at the time of renewal" and provided that:
- mining contractors, whose tenements are expiring from September 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013, shall be given 30 calendar days from the effectivity of these implementing rules and regulations to file renewal applications; and
- mining contractors, whose tenements expire after April 30, 2013, shall file their renewal application not later than 6 months prior to the expiry of their mining contract/agreements.
No-go areas, national laws
Meanwhile, there are other IRR provisions mining companies asked the government to change and clarify, but were not addressed in the revised rules.
One of these is the "no-go" areas or locations that would be barred for any mining activity because they are considered potential tourism or agricultural sites.
Miners feared that their current projects could be later identified as among these areas, putting their investments down the drain.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines also asked for "further clarification" of the "ambiguous" provision that stipulates the primacy of national laws over local ordinances.
In full-page ads on broadsheets on October 1, the chamber called on the government to indicate the immediate implementation of the provision, which could declare the much-contested bans on open-pit mining in some provinces illegal. - Rappler.com
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