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Most mining operations need reforms – NEDA

Louise Maureen Simeon – The Philippine Star
June 16, 2022 | 12:00am


Majority of mining operations in the Philippines should undergo reforms in order to stimulate socioeconomic development and ensure environmental protection as only four firms have shown an excellent benchmark on the extractive industry.

Based on the synthesis of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC)’s review of large-scale metallic mining operations in the Philippines released by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) yesterday, most of the mining operations would need either minor or major reforms to guarantee compliance with existing laws and regulations.

The MICC review was conducted in two phases and covered a total of 45 large-scale metallic mining operations. A panel of experts identified by NEDA, which sits as MICC Secretariat, led the review.

Based on the review, four mining operations showed excellent benchmarks for future mining entrants, whether open-pit or underground mining.

These are OceanaGold Philippines in Nueva Vizcaya, Cagdianao Mining Corp. in Dinagat Islands, Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. in Palawan, and Agata Mining Ventures in Agusan del Norte.

The review said OceanaGold has a state-of-the-art, fully mechanized underground system that yields higher ore production while the three other nickel mines demonstrated several innovations in mining operations and environment management, leading to recognition and awards at local and international levels.

Unfortunately, 15 out of the 45 need major reforms. These were largely nickel mining operations, half of which were in CARAGA and the other half were spread in different regions.

These 15 companies are Benguet Corp., Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals, LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration and Development and Wellex Mining Corp.

Also included are Krominco Inc., Libjo Mining Corp., Oriental Synergy Mining Corp., Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp., Sinosteel Mining Corp., Century Peak Corp. – both in Casiguran and Rapid City –  and Tribal Mining Corp.

“Mining operations, particularly those engaged in nickel mining in Zambales and Loreto, Dinagat Islands, need to further examine their technical and environmental aspects and consider increasing environmental protection expenditures,” the review said.

“These nickel companies must carefully balance investments for socio-economic development with community development. It must consider building up other forms of capital like renewable natural or manufactured capital that can be sustained beyond the mine life,” it said.

Unfortunately, two mining firms received a “poor” rating namely, Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp. in Bulacan and Claver Mineral Development Corp. in Surigao del Norte.

Meanwhile, the remaining 24 mining firms were rated as needing “minor reforms.”

These firms include Berong Nickel Corp., Citinickel Mines and Development, Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corp., AAMPHIL Exploration, Emir Minerals Corp., Strongbuilt Mining Development Corp., Adnama Mining Resources Inc., Carrascal Nickel Corp., CTP Construction and Mining Corp., Hinatuan Mining Corp., and Marcventures Mining and Development Corp.

Also those needing minor reforms are TechIron Resources Inc., Greenstone Resources, Philsaga Mining Corp., SR Metal, Carmen Copper, FCF Minerals Corp., Masbate Filminera, Philex-Padcal, Apex Mining, Pacific Nickel Philippines Inc., Platinum Group Metals Corp., and Taganito Mining Corp.

In classifying the mining operations by its indexes, the experts applied a range of average scores to represent the indexes, namely, good, needing minor corrections, major reforms, or poor.

The rating covered the legal, technical, environmental, social, and economic aspects of every mining operation.

Following the review, the experts made recommendations that firms need to carry out. Among these include enhancing monitoring and substantive legal compliance, improving technical efficiency and productivity, protecting and enhancing environment and natural capital, improving community and household human and social capital, and prioritizing and sustaining local economic growth beyond the mine life.

Of the firms, 27 are producing nickel, 11 in gold, nine in silver, five in copper, four in chromite, and two in magnetite.

These are located in 17 provinces in 10 regions. Of those reviewed, 19 were under the care and maintenance program, either voluntarily due to the sudden drop in mineral ore prices worldwide or involuntarily due to suspension following an audit.

The MICC is mandated to assess and review all mining operations concerning their compliance with existing laws and regulations. It also reviews mining-related laws, rules, and regulations, and provides corresponding policy recommendations to improve their effectiveness and relevance.