Efforts to identify more mining areas stepped up

by Jonathan Mayuga, Business Mirror

Posted at Oct 27 2010 01:45 AM | Updated as of Oct 27 2010 05:40 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has stepped up its effort to identify more “mineralized” areas to open to both small- and large-scale mining activities.

Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said his directive to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to scout for more mineralized areas to attract more local and foreign investors provides equitable access to mineral resources and ge-nerates additional nontax revenue for the government.

“Currently, the government gets only a 2% share of gross sales from mining operations in areas covered by mining agreements in the form of the excise tax. The government, however, will get an additional 5% in royalties if the mining operations are held in declared mineral-reservation areas, for a total of 7%,” Paje said.

Section 5 of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, or RA 7942, provides that “when national interest so requires, such as when there is a need to preserve strategic raw materials for industries critical to national development, or certain minerals for scientific, cultural ecological value, the President may establish mineral reservations upon the recommendation of the director of the MGB through the DENR secretary.”

Paje said there are currently nine mineral reservations throughout the country—in Ilocos Norte, Zambales, Bulacan, Camarines Sur, Samar Island, Surigao del Norte, Compostela Valley and Zamboanga del Norte.

The country’s vast areas of untapped mineral resources, which can be converted to multiple-investment opportunities in the areas of exploration, development and mineral processing, was highlighted during the recent Mining Philippines 2010 Conference and Exhibition.

The Philippines has a land area of some 30 million hectares, but only 2% is covered by mining permits.

The MGB estimates there are a total of 9 million hectares more that are geologically prospective for metallic minerals.