PH mining in limbo until after May elections
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government has effectively placed the mining industry in limbo by sitting on rules to govern the industry.
As things stand and given the politics of the situation, the government of Benigno Aquino III will conveniently wait for the May congressional elections before possibly putting in place a mining policy. Aquino has acted with notable indecisiveness when it comes to mining.
It wants the revenues given to government increased because of the recent strong performance of metal prices in the world market.
Mining industry analysts feel the approach is wrong-headed because it imposes a high-tax regime when prices are strong. When prices are weak, the share of the government will of course have to go down.
But the most serious impact of Manila’s approach is its pandering to various interest groups – from the Catholic Church to local political fiefdoms on the different islands of the country where mines are located.
The undercurrent of frustration can be seen in the statement in 2012 by Peter Forrestal, the president of Sagittarius Mining whose Tampakan project, the biggest foreign investment in the Philippines, has been delayed 3 times.
One of the top reasons for that, he says, is “the ongoing uncertainty created by a provincial ordinance that is in conflict with national law, and the denial of the Mine Environmental Compliance Certificate by the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which is currently under appeal to the Office of the President.”
You have a national government department refusing to issue the environmental certificate and using the local ordinance as its reason for doing so. At some point, mining companies are going to throw up their hands and say they’ve had enough.
As well as the Aquino government has performed in fostering the country’s economic performance, its management of the mining industry has been a major disappointment so far. - Rappler.com, Philippine Commodities Digest
Note: Rene Pastor is with Philippine Commodities Digest, a weekly publication of New Jersey-based A & V Media that provides a comprehensive roundup of developments and trends in the country’s key farming and mining sectors. He is a freelance journalist who worked with the news agency Reuters for nearly 23 years. He graduated with a Masters degree in International Affairs from the New School in New York city and received a bachelor of arts in Communications from the Ateneo de Manila University. Rene is also a lecturer at Middlesex County College in Edison, New Jersey.