Ban on new mining permits ends
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government is sending a signal that it is open for more mining business. After more than two years, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje has finally lifted the ban on new mining permits.
The end of the moratorium, which initially took effect on January 18, 2011, means that more mining investments can start flowing into the country as early as next week. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) will start accepting applications for Exploration Permits (EP) and Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) beginning on Monday, March 18.
Despite the lifting of the ban on EPs and FTAAs, applications for Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) will still be shelved as Congress still must rationalize existing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms. How to split revenue from the extractive industry between government and miners has long been a contentious issue.
Jasareno maintained that unless the revenue sharing scheme is passed, MPSAs will not be entertained.
"MPSA applications are still under moratorium pursuant to EO 79," Jasareno said.
The moratorium dates back to 2011 when DENR suspended the acceptance of all mining permit applications due to the need for MGB to review pending and inactive mining projects nationwide.
The suspension covered applications for EP, FTAA and Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA).
Industry players partially blamed a drop in 2012 investments on the suspension of new applications. A lack of new applications, coupled with signs that the Aquino government may be half-hearted about mining and unclear industry rules set a troubling stage for the industry last year, when investment in the sector plummeted by nearly 48% in the first half.
The government's new openness to certain permits could breathe life into the industry and herald a new year where mining investments are not lackluster. - with reports by Lean Santos and Rappler.com