78 No-mining zones in Aquino EO _ Inquirer News to invest in gold or not

“you know, before, mine wastes (were) considered wastes. But, now, we found out that based on recent technologies, we can extract other metals or other forms of minerals from the mine waste so it is now a resource or input for new processing. Therefore, we put in this EO that all mine wastes, all mill tailings should be considered owned by the state and, therefore, should be disposed of through competitive bidding,” the environment secretary said.

Paje said the government expected a windfall of P50 billion from the sale of mining wastes; P760 million from occupational fees upon filing (it used to be paid only when the financial technical assistance agreement [FTAA] was approved); and up to P16 billion from royalty payments from the existing 33 mining operations in the country by 2016.To invest in gold or not

Paje said there were 300 existing mineral production sharing agreements and ftaas of which only 33 were in operation. Of the 33, 11 are in mineral reservations and have been paying royalties to the government.

“it (EO) will not affect, I think, the mining industry. It will only affect a few—those who are in the final stages of their exploration activities,” said paje. “this is the reason why the president said ‘put a break. Stop issuing new mining contracts if we cannot get the best or the optimal revenue for government,’” the environment secretary said.

Paje said the new EO would extend the moratorium on the grant of new mining agreements until congress shall have finalized the proposed revenue-sharing scheme between the government and mining companies, specifically the 5-percent royalty government wants the mining firms to pay.To invest in gold or not

“some people will be happy with this provision. Some of course will be affected. We have to wait for the new legislation pertaining to revenues before we can sign new agreements on mining. But, of course, this provision also respects the existing mining contracts. It will respect existing mining contracts,” said paje.

While congress deliberates on the royalty formula, paje said the DENR would grant only exploration permits, review existing mining contracts for possible renegotiation and remove idle mining rights holders.

Paje said that the EO would spur the government to renegotiate any mining contract in order for the state to take a slice of the windfall profits of mining firms, specifically from the steep rise in metal prices.

“we only get 2 percent in excise tax and that is somehow hurting government.To invest in gold or not the instruction of the president is to copy best practices because these mining companies are also operating in canada or in australia, for example. If they are operating in australia, they must be paying that same royalties and charges and taxes, right? So the question is: ‘why don’t you want to pay (the same) in the philippines?,”’ he said.

To further help increase government revenue, paje said areas with verified reserves would be awarded through public bidding instead of the previous policy of assigning these to certain groups on a first come, first serve basis.

A provision of the EO also limits small-scale mining to “minahang bayan” or people’s small-scale mining areas. This provision effectively reins in local government units, which are known to grant mining permits in their jurisdictions.To invest in gold or not

“we also have a very comprehensive provision pertaining to small-scale mining. With the opinion given to us by the department of justice, we will only be using one law and that is RA 7076 which states that all small-scale mining can only happen or occur inside what you call ‘minahang bayan.’ we have to contain them in one place so that we can contain the wastes and we can treat them properly,” he said.