Bernardo M. Villegas
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Strategies for the Mining Sector (Part II)

           There is also a strategy to address the challenge of the small-scale mining activities.  The Executive Order provides for the improvement of the contribution of the small-scale mining sector, which can help in generating many more jobs because of its labor-intensive technology and in distributing income more equitably, especially to the lagging regions of the country.  The following provisions of the Executive Order address some of the problems of this sector:

·    Small-scale mining activities shall comply with RA No 7076, or the People's Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991, and the Environment Impact Statement System requirements under Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1586.

·    Pursuant to RA No. 7076, small-scale mining operations shall be undertaken only within the declared People's Small-Scale Mining Areas or Minahang Bayan.

·    Pursuant to Section 24 or RA No 7076, P/CMRBs in provinces and cities where they have not been constituted shall be operationalized within three (3) months from the effectivity of this Order.

·    Small-scale mining shall not be applicable for metallic minerals except gold, silver, and chromite, as provided for in RA No. 7076.

·    The use of mercury in small-scale mining shall be strictly prohibited, and

·    Training and capacity building measures in the form of technical assistance for small-scale

mining cooperatives and associations shall be conducted by the concerned government agencies.

          The strategies mapped out by the Executive Order for the Philippine Mining Industry clearly includes both the large and small enterprises of the private sector.  There is a clear assumption that the mining industry of the country will make its contribution to income growth, productivity, employment, a more equitable sharing of income and sustainable development of the environment mainly through private sector participation, with the State playing a subsidiary role of enlightened regulation and investment in key infrastructure projects.

          Among the more prominent guidelines that should be given special attention by investors are those related to environmental standards in mining.  The Executive Order mandates that the Government in general, and the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) in particular, in coordination with concerned LGUs, shall ensure that environmental standards in mining, as prescribed by the various mining and environmental laws, rules, and regulations,  shall be fully and strictly enforced and appropriate sanctions meted out against violators thereof.

          For medium-term and long-term planning, those interested in investing in the mining sector of the Philippines should follow closely the future establishment of mineral reservations.  The Executive Order provides that potential and future mining areas with known strategic mineral reserves and resources shall be declared as Mineral Reservations for the development of strategic industries identified in the Philippine Development Plan and a National Industrialization Plan, pursuant to the pertinent provisions of RA No. 7942, after proper consultation with all concerned stakeholders such as, but not limited to, residents of affected communities, LGUs, the business sector and non-government and civil society organizations.  The establishment of these mineral reservations will not, however, prejudice the agreements, contracts, rights and obligations previously entered into by and between the government and mining contractors/operators.  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.