Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has directed all regional directors of the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau to refrain from accepting and processing new mining applications nationwide.

Paje issued the directive in view of the on-going cleansing of pending and inactive mining projects nationwide by the mines bureau.

“As we take on the task of cleansing our regional offices of ageing mining applications and inactive mining projects, I have also directed our MGB officials to refrain from accepting and processing new applications for mining permits, such as exploration permit, mineral production sharing agreement, financial or technical assistance, including industrial sand and gravel permit,” Paje said.

Paje has earlier ordered the MGB’s regional officials until February 20 to cleanse their respective regions of 50% of all pending and inactive mining applications, and until December 2011 for the remaining 50%.

MGB records show that there are currently 2,180 pending mining applications filed in various MGB regional offices.

Aside from pending mining applications, exploration contracts that have already expired for five years or more, and mining contracts whose three-year work programs have not been implemented for two consecutive years are also subject of final action, Paje said.
According to the DENR chief, the suspension in the issuance of new mining permits is part of the reforms in the mining sector in a move to enhance the management of the country’s natural resources. “We are now in the process of implementing our ‘use it or lose it policy’, where we will be cancelling mining applications that were unable to comply with the all the requirements set by the government, including mining tenements that have remained inactive and unproductive through the years.”

In cleansing their respective offices of pending mining applications, however, Paje reminded his field officials to strictly observe the “three-letter-policy” in exacting compliance by applicants of all the requirements, with a minimum of 30 days between these letter- notices. Among these requirements include the acquisition of Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) from the rightful indigenous peoples concerned, proof of consultation from the LGU’s Sangguniang, and the completion of publication, posting and radio announcement within one year from the date of acceptance of the mining application.