Monday, January 31, 2011

Paje sets deadlines for cleansing of pending, idle mining projects

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje today directed all regional directors of the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB) to cleanse their respective regions of all pending and inactive mining applications this year, setting two deadlines on February 20, 2011 for the first 50%, and on December 2011 for the remaining 50%.

Paje said the cleansing of ageing mining applications is two-pronged: one is to institute reforms in the mining sector, and two as part of the DENR’s anti-corruption program. “We have to decide once and for all on what to do with all of these mining applications long pending in our regional offices, otherwise the public will continue to perceive us as inefficient and corrupt,” Paje said.

According to Paje, his directive is intended to deprive DENR personnel of any opportunity for corruption. “I want to believe in the goodness of our personnel, in their commitment to serve our country and our people. But if the temptation is overwhelming, the possibility of some of them unable to resist the temptation is always there,” Paje stressed.

Paje also said the move is among the reforms in the mining sector to enhance the management of the country’s natural resources. “We are now moving towards enhancing our implementation of the ‘use it or lose it policy’ where we will be cancelling not only mining applications that are unable to comply with the all the requirements set by the government but also mining tenements that have remained inactive and unproductive for a long time,” Paje stressed.

MGB records show that there are currently 2,180 mining tenement applications that remain pending in various MGB regional offices for an average of 10 years or more. Paje cited as examples of ageing mining applications, to include one for FTAA in Region 13 which remains idle for 16 years, and an MPSA in Region 4A for at least 15 years. “There are also other mining tenements that continue to remain inactive for the past 14 years,” Paje added.

Mining tenements include mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA), exploration permit (EP) and financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA).

Exploration contracts that have already expired for five years or more and mining contracts that have not implemented the three-year work program for two consecutive years are also subject of final action by the DENR, said Paje.

As part of the cleansing procedure, Paje explained that the agency is strictly carrying out the so-called “three letter-notice policy” in exacting compliance with all the requirements by the applicants, with a maximum interval of 30 days between these letters-notices.

Among the requirements in filing for mining applications include the acquisition of Free and Prior Informed Consent by the rightful indigenous peoples concerned as certified by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the NCIP Certificate of Non-Overlap within one year, and the NCIP Certification Precondition (Compliance Certificate) within three years from the date of receipt by NCIP of the pertinent letter-requests from MGB.

The mining applicant must also submit proofs of consultation with the LGU’s Sanggunian within two years from the date of acceptance of the mining application, and the completion of publication, posting and radio announcement within one year from the date of acceptance of the mining application.

Paje stressed that failure on the part of the applicant to comply with any of the requirements shall be a ground for the denial of the mining permit.


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