Palace revises controversial mining IRR

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia,

Posted at Sep 24 2012 06:54 PM | Updated as of Sep 25 2012 05:53 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) on Monday agreed to revise several sections of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the government's mining policy.  

This comes after the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines threatened to file a case against the government over Section 9 of the IRR which it described as "patently illegal." 

Under the original IRR, Section 9 stated the government can renegotiate the terms of mining contracts after the first 25 years. The Chamber of Mines raised objections to the provision, saying it effectively shortens the mining project period from the current maximum period of 50 years. 

President Benigno Aquino convened the MICC on Monday to discuss the mining companies' concerns. 

In Monday's meeting, the MICC agreed to amend Sections 3, 7 and 9 of the IRR. However, President Aquino still needs to give final approval to the changes in the IRR.

Under the proposed revision for Section 9, the "mining contracts and agreements that may be renewed shall be subject to existing laws, rules, and regulations at the time of renewal."

The revised section further stated that mining contractors whose tenements are expiring from September 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013 will be given 30 days from the effectivity of the IRR to file renewal applications. Mining contractors, whose tenements expire after April 30, 2013, should file their renewal applications not later than 6 months before the expiry of their mining contracts and agreements.

The MICC also included the definition of "expired mining tenements" in Section 3 of the IRR. 

"Expired mining tenements" refer to mining contract/agreements whose 25- or 50-year term has lapsed: Provided, that in the 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 R.A. No. 7942, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, and other pertinent laws," the new provision stated. 

Another section that was revised is Section 7 on the "Grant of Mineral Agreements Pending New Legislation." 

The revised section now reads: "No new mineral agreements shall be entered into until a legislation rationalizing existing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms shall have taken effect: Provided, that in the case of expansion of existing contract areas, the same shall be subject to existing laws: Provided, further, that the National Government-Owned Mining Assets may be subject to the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) in accordance with Section 9 of these implementing rules and regulations."

The meeting was attended by MICC members, such as Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang.