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Mining deals freeze thawed

Executive Order 130 allowed the government to enter into new mineral agreements subject to compliance with the Philippine Mining Act of 1995

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President Rodrigo Duterte has lifted the nine-year-old moratorium on new mining deals provided that these comply with laws as the country seeks to boost state revenues.

The President on Wednesday signed Executive Order (EO) 130 which allowed the government to enter into new mineral agreements subject to compliance with the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and other relevant regulations. Copies of the order were released to reporters on Thursday.

The order revoked the suspension of applications for mineral contracts in protected areas, prime agricultural lands, tourism development areas, and other critical places, which was imposed by former President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2012 pending the passage of a law providing reforms in the mining sector including revenue sharing schemes.

Due to absence of such law, the President directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to “formulate terms and conditions in the new mineral agreements that will maximize government revenues and share from production, including the possibility of declaring these areas as mineral reservations to obtain appropriate royalties.”

The Department of Finance should work with the DENR to rationalize existing revenue-sharing schemes and mechanisms, he added.

Trade group hails EO

In a statement, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines said a “major roadblock” to the potential of the mining industry to contribute to socio-economic growth has been removed.

“Mining projects that will be allowed to operate following this development will provide additional government revenues in the form of taxes and fees, royalty fees, and increase in export value, as well as employment opportunities for thousands of Filipinos, especially those in rural areas,” the group said.

“The industry’s positive impact on host communities can be seen in regions around the country where mining has been allowed to flourish, such as in Caraga and MIMAROPA,” it added.

The chamber also noted that the moratorium attracts more local and foreign investments into the country.

“Since 2010, investor interest in the Philippines has declined. Executive Order 130 will help bring the Philippines back on the investment map,” it said.

The Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) also welcomed the decision; saying that the move will also increase the industry’s support to host communities.

“PNIA has always maintained the industry’s contribution to countryside development by providing employment opportunities and livelihood, and ensuring the sustainability of our host communities,” the group noted.

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