Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje today clarified that the moratorium on the issuance of new mining tenements remains in force until such time that planned reforms in the mining sector are put in place.
Paje made the clarification following news reports stating that the DENR has already lifted the mining moratorium it has imposed early this year as it moved to cleanse the mines bureau of ageing mining applications.
“We have not lifted the moratorium on the processing and issuance of new mining permits. In fact, since I assumed office in July last year, I have not issued a single new mining permit as we are committed to address first the increasing concerns aired by various sectors, including local government units, on the environmental and social impacts of mining,” Paje explained.
Paje acknowledged, however, that the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB) has renewed 10 exploration permits last Oct. 6. “I want to make clear that these approvals made by MGB Director Leo Jasareno are not new mining permits, but renewal of exploration permits issued earlier prior to the imposition of the mining moratorium,” Paje stressed.
MGB Director Jasareno identified the companies cleared by his office to resume their exploration activities include Cessmag Development Inc. in Misamis Oriental (EP-000006A-X), Coolabah Mining Corp. in Nueva Vizcaya (EP-II-00003), Cordillera Exploration Company in Abra (EP-0042006-CAR), Egerton Gold Philippines, Inc. in Batangas (EP-IVA-011), Masbate 10 Philippines, Inc. in Masbate (EP-V-2007-04), Mineral Treasures Mining Corp. in Zambales (EP-02-2009-III), Pacific Metals Canada Philippines, Inc. in Tacloban City and Leyte (EP-2009-000008-VIII), Red Earth Mining Corp. in Nueva Vizcaya (EP-II-00006), Sagittarius Mines, Inc. in South Cotabato, Davao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat (EP-00001-08-XI), and UP Mines, Inc. in Southern Leyte (EP-2005-000005-VIII).
According to Jasareno, the evaluation process taken by the bureau on the renewal applications of the mining companies were “long and tedious.”
“The go-signal to renew the 10 exploration permits came after a long and tedious evaluation process vis-avis the companies’ compliance to their respective commitments embodies in their original exploration permits,” Jasareno stressed.
Exploration permit is a two-year permit issued by the MGB that allows the holder to search for minerals, and is renewable for the same period.
Jasareno described exploration activities as “having minimum impact to communities and the environment, and do not necessarily lead to the development of a mine.”
At the same time, Paje asked “doubting Thomases” to be forthcoming this early with their hesitation to go all out to meet their targets to allow for management to act appropriately in their particular case.
“We will make sure that everybody performs. Kung sino sa inyo ang tingin ay hindi kayang ipatupad ang programang ito, sabihin na ninyo ngayon,” Paje said.
The performance-based incentive will be based on the field officials’ scorecard in the yearly targets given them and will be validated with the use of state-of-the art technology such as satellite mapping and internet-based technology through NGP’s website at the www.ngp.denr.gov.ph