Amended mining-policy rules signed by DENR chief

By Jonathan L. Mayuga, BusinessMirror

Posted at Oct 10 2012 07:07 AM | Updated as of Oct 10 2012 03:07 PM

MANILA, Philippines - An order formalizing amendments to certain provisions of the controversial implementing rules of Executive Order (EO) 79 was handed down by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Copies of Administrative Order 2012-07-A, dated October 8, 2012, and signed by Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, was circulated on Tuesday morning at the DENR central office in Quezon City.

They were also faxed and sent to DENR’s regional, provincial, city and municipal offices nationwide.

The new order, which takes effect 15 days after publication in daily newspapers and 15 days after registration with the Office of the National Administrative Register, formalizes amendments to the original implementing rules and finally puts in place President Aquino’s EO 79, the new mining policy signed on July 26, 2012, based on a review conducted by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC).

The DENR administrative order amends Sections 3, 7 and 9 of the original implementing rules, which were earlier criticized and even branded as “patently illegal” by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP).

Section 1 of the new implementing rules, which amended Section 3, or the Definition

of Terms, now includes a definition of “expired mining tenements,” which refer to mining contracts/agreements whose 25- or 50-year term has lapsed.

Under the same provision, it is also stated that “in case of the initial 25-year term, the mining contract/agreement shall be considered expired if the parties concerned fail to agree on the terms of the renewal pursuant to Sections 32 and 38 of Republic Act 7942, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.”

Meanwhile, Section 2, which amends Section 7 of the original implementing rules or the Grant of Mineral Agreement Pending New Legislation, now allows the grant of new mineral agreements in case of an imminent threat of economic disruption, such as a shortage of critical commodities and raw materials that could adversely affect priority government projects or activities as determined by the Economic Development Cabinet Cluster.

Also, government-owned mining assets may be subject to Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement in accordance with Section 9 of the same implementing rules, which open areas for mining through competitive public bidding.

This condition points out that Article XII of the Constitution provides that the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control of the state, thus the grant of mining rights and mining tenements is subject to competitive public bidding, and that expired mining tenements or contracts may be renewed subject to existing laws, rules and regulations at the time of renewal.

Mining contractors whose mining tenements are expiring between September 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013, are given 30 days to file renewal of applications upon effectivity of the new rules. Mining contractors whose mining contracts or agreement will expire after April 30, 2013 are given six months to file renewal of their application not later than six months prior to the expiry of their mining contracts or agreement.