August 29th: Oriental Peninsula gets 2 investors

Nickel miner Oriental Peninsula Resources Inc. said it will raise P926.5 million from the private placement of two new investors.

Oriental Peninsula said in a disclosure to the stock exchange it would sign in the third quarter the subscription of P700 million worth of shares by Redmont Consolidated Mines Corp. and P226.5 million worth of shares by Suncorp Mines and Development Corp.

Oriental Peninsula plans to issue a total of 926.5 million primary shares to the two companies at P1 apiece.

Proceeds from the fund-raising activity will be used to liquidate the company’s P926.5-million debt to major shareholder Citimax Group Inc.

Oriental Peninsula said with the subscription, Redmont would now own 29.43 percent of the company while Suncorp will have 9.52-percent share.

Ownership of the mining firm’s existing shareholders, namely Citimax, Golden Spin Realty Inc. and Billion Apex Development Ltd. will drop as a result of the private placement.

At the same time, the company’s public float will decrease to 19.89 percent.

Oriental Peninsula is focused on the mining operations of subsidiary, Citinickel Mines and Development Corp.

Currently, the company has a 94-percent equity interest in Citinickel, which is the sole claim owner of the Pulot Mine and the Toronto Mine located in the province of Palawan, namely in the towns of Sofronio Espanola and Narra.

By Jenniffer B. Austria, Manila Standard Today

August 29th: DENR shuts down illegal Negros town gold mines

CEBU CITY—The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has ordered the closure of gold mining and processing operations in Santa Catalina town, Negros Oriental province, for violating mining and environmental laws.

Loreto Alburo, MGB director for Central Visayas, said the mining operations were illegal and violated Executive Order No. 79 issued by President Aquino.

Alburo said the regional MGB found workers using mercury, which is banned by EO 79.

He said the mines on  at least 500 hectares in three communities in Santa Catalina were also found to be using rod mills without permits.

Prior to the issuance of the MGB order, Alburo said MGB officials attended a dialogue on Aug. 14 at the municipal hall with 60 of the mining operators led by Raul Lapu,  town officials led by Mayor Nathaniel Electona, and village chief Abundio Amil Jr.

In the meeting, the mining operators were informed that there would be a closure order.

Amil said the barangay (village) had padlocked the rod mills in May but the operators forcibly opened these.

The MGB also took into consideration a petition started by a certain Jezebel Tilos, addressed to the mayor and signed by at least 100 residents, demanding a stop to the mining operations.

The petition said the mining operations were contaminating water sources, destroying mountains and “damaging forest resources.”

Eddie Llamedo, regional spokesperson for  the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said the DENR sought help in enforcing the MGB order from the military and police.

Llamedo said that  once the mining operations were shut down, the MGB would conduct a detailed study of the area’s mining potential.

After the study, he said, the DENR would help small-scale miners acquire permits for the area to be declared as a “people’s small-scale mining area.”

“We will implement corrective measures there. We also want to help them. We will help them have a safe facility for small-scale mining,” he said.

Llamedo said EO 79 allows small-scale mining in areas declared as sites for “people’s mines.”

By Carmel Loise Matus |Inquirer Visayas.

August 29th: Caraga miners to get incentives.

MANILA, Philippines – Miners in the Caraga region will receive incentive pay on top of their daily basic wage after the labor department ordered the implementation of a two-tiered wage system (TTWS) for the local mining industry.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said yesterday the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board (RTWPB) issued an advisory for the implementation of the wage system.

“The wage system, though voluntary, will bring more benefits to workers and management,” Baldoz said.

She said the TTWS encourages mining companies to provide their workers with productivity-based incentives or benefits such as production, zero-accident, longevity and attendance incentive schemes.

“The RTWPB Caraga is also mandated to provide capacity-building and consulting services to legitimate mining enterprises that grant incentives to their workers,” Baldoz said.

Baldoz said  studies show that productivity-based pay schemes result in higher levels of productivity for competitiveness and preserves and generates gainful employment.

The TTWS is the labor department’s wage policy reform to protect poor and vulnerable workers.

The region’s mining industry generated 18,828 jobs in 2012, higher by 17 percent than the previous year.

Labor officials attributed the increase in job generation to the operation of two new mining ventures in the region.

Baldoz said the advisory on the implementation of the TTWS for mining is timely and appropriate.

By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star)

August 28th: MGB-12 grants mining firm authority to explore SouthCot, Sarangani.

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 28 Aug) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Region 12 has granted authority to another mining company to explore the mineral-rich mountains of South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces.

Constancio Paye Jr., MGB Region 12 director, said Thursday they issued a permit to 88 Kiamba Mining and Development Corporation for the exploration of copper, gold and silver deposits within the boundary areas of the two provinces.

He said the exploration permit or EP No. 014-2014-XII, which was released last August 20, specifically covers a total of 7,047 hectares in the municipalities of Maitum, Kiamba and Maasim in Sarangani and Lake Sebu and T’boli in South Cotabato.

“We issued the exploration permit based on a clearance granted by the DENR central office,” he said in a statement.

Paye said 88 Kiamba’s exploration permit was the first that they issued in the region since the promulgation of the national government’s new mining policy as embodied in Executive Order (EO) 79 that was signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III on July 6, 2012.

EO 79 provided for the institutionalization and implementation of reforms in the mining sector and set the policies and guidelines “to ensure environmental protection and responsible mining in the utilization of mineral resources” in the country.

With the implementation of the new mining policy, the official said they adopted major changes in the filing and processing of mining applications.

“Previously, mining applications are filed in the regional office where the area applied is regionally located. But in the light of the DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2013-11, all mining applications are now filed at the MGB central office,” he said

Paye said the application is then forwarded to the concerned MGB regional office “after the applied area is cleared from areas closed to mining and the company has paid the pertinent filing and processing fees.”

He said the MGB regional office will then take the necessary evaluation on the basis of the provisions of DAO No. 2010-21 or the implementing rules of Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Law, EO 79 and other related guidelines.

The evaluation process focused on the timelines set for the completion of processing of the application, he said.

Paye said that under DAO 2013-10, the filing fee for the exploration permit increased from the previous P60 per hectare to P300.

He said the minimum authorized and paid-up capital requirements for mining applicants were also increased from P10 million to P100 million and from P2.5 million to P6.25 million, respectively.

MGB-12 records listed businessman Mohamad Aquia as the president of 88 Kiamba Mining and Development Corporation.

Aquia, who is a resident of Kiamba town in Sarangani, is a former head of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group-Mindanao.

A known ally of Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao, Aquia ran but lost his bid for vice governor of the province in the 2010 national and local elections.

Another company, Kiamba Mining Corporation (KMC), is currently conducting mining explorations in Kiamba town.

KMC holds the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) issued by the national government in June 2010 to the Cebu City-based Hard Rock Mineral Trading Inc.

MPSA-350-10-XII, which will expire in 2035, covers a mining area of 8,331 hectares that was noted for deposits of gold, silver and iron.

Several local groups have been opposing the operations of KMC and moves for the conversion of portions of the area’s public forest/ancestral lands/watershed” into mining areas.

The Coalition of Organizations to Save Kiamba Rainforest and the Natives Organization Worldwide opposed the proposed mining operations in the area, stressing it would eventually destroy the area’s rainforests and watersheds

By Mindanews
August 27th: MICC opens small-scale black sand mining in ‘Yolanda Avenue’.

The Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) has agreed to open “Yolanda Avenue” (Samar and Leyte) for small-scale black sand mining to encourage the establishment of iron processing plants that will create thousands of jobs for Typhoon Yolanda survivors, create more value adding and develop the downstream iron and steel industry in the country.

Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo has initiated this initiative. Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, who supported Domingo’s proposal, also raised the need to declare “Minahang Bayan” in the “Yolanda Avenue”, consistent with the provision of Executive Order No. 790 that small-scale mining shall only be declared inside the “Minahang Bayan”.

On Friday’s MICC meeting, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima has proposed two conditions for the opening of the “Yolanda Avenue” citing the destructive nature of black sand mining.

The two conditions are: Go and no-go zones shall apply in the Yolanda Avenue and that go-zones within the Yolanda Avenue should still be subjected to certain conditions/guidelines on BSC.

Domingo stressed, however, that BSM becomes destructive only when big equipment are used. The intent of his proposal is to support individual operators that use manual labor/practice, and yield incomes of P1,000 per day.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Leo Jasareno also told the MICC that iron has been taken out in the SSM context under EO 79, thus, the need to seek an endorsement from the President to include iron/BSM as part of SSM.

Paje, however, clarified that BSM shall only be allowed in go zones and will be strictly prohibited in no-go zones (200 meters from the shoreline). Also, Paje said that the produce should not be for export as the opening up of the “Yolanda Avenue” to SSM black sand mining is to encourage entrepreneurs to establish iron processing plant in the area.

The opening up SSM black sand mining in the ‘Yolanda Avenue’ is closely tied up to the value adding efforts of the DTI under the “Downstream Industry Roadmap for Copper”, presented by the country’s lone copper smelter Pasar Corp., which is located in Isabel, Leyte.

The roadmap, which main objective is to establish a world-class copper mines, has encouraged the establishment of a “Green Domestic Manufacturing Zone” in Leyte to encourage industry clustering and to improve the poor profit margin in the operation of copper wire rod facility.

The roadmap has targeted the establishment of a copper wire rod facility, which is eligible for tax incentives under the 2014 Investment Priorities Plan.

The establishment of a copper wire rod facility will address the midstream supply chain gap. The industry clustering approach for copper may help reduce the high cost of power and transport when they sell to Pasar. Higher logistics costs make it more attractive for copper mines to export and for Pasar to import its copper requirements.

A memorandum for Domingo’s approval for the establishment of the “green Domestic Manufacturing Zone” in Leyte would involve the National Development Co., DTI’s investment arm, for the conduct a pre-feasibility study for the said zone, which has an initial timeframe of 2016-2020.

The Philippines has significant deposits of copper, reputed to be among the biggest in the world. Local copper concentrate production of existing copper mines at 376,106 MT in 2013 was less than the requirement of Pasar.

by Bernie Magkilat, Manila Bulletin.

August 28th: Gov’t lifts suspension on Philex’s Padcal mine

MANILA, Philippines – Two years after a breach in its drainage tunnel caused a disastrous spill of mining sediments into Benguet rivers, Philex Mining Corporation can now continue operations in its Padcal mine in Tuba, Benguet.

In a letter dated August 27, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Chief Leo Jasareno lifted the suspension on the gold and copper mine, saying impacts of the spill “have been substantially addressed to warrant the resumption of the normal operation of Philex.”

The letter noted the steps Philex had taken to provide reparation for damage, and rehabilitate and clean up the areas affected by the spill.

The company paid P1.034 billion (US$23.6 million*) in fine for discharging 20.7 million tons of tailings to the Balog and Agno Rivers – the biggest mining disaster in the country in terms of volume.

The company also paid P188.6 million ($4.3 million) to the Pollution Adjudication Board for the environmental damage caused by the spill.

It paid an additional P5 billion ($114.4 million) for the clean-up of waterways polluted by the spill, said Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.

The Tailings Storage Facility No 3, the tunnel that leaked allegedly because of torrential rains, has been sealed. The excess water containing mining sediments is now being discharged in an open spillway replacing the penstock system that failed and caused the spill, said Jasareno.

Philex had undertaken the proper remedial and rehabilitation measures, as concluded a report by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council, through a technical working group chaired by Presidential Adviser for Environment Protection Nereus Acosta.

The lifting order also took into consideration appeals from various stakeholders for the government to permanently lift the suspension order on Padcal.

The groups who petitioned include the Indigenous Peoples of Tuba and Itogon in Benguet and San Miguel and San Nicolas in Pangasinan who benefit from job opportunities in the mine and payment of royalty by Philex for use of their land.

Petitioners also include barangay councils of Benguet villages, church groups and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines Party List.

The mine’s drainage tunnel leaked on August 1, 2012 polluting nearby rivers and even rendering some of them unable to sustain life. The day after, the DENR-MGB issued a cease and desist order to stop the mine’s operations.

In July 2013, the government allowed Philex to temporarily resume operations while regulators reviewed their rehabilitation plan.

By Pia Ranada –

August 25th: Meeting set on proposed mining revenue scheme.

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the President (OP) would meet with lawmakers on Sept. 1 to get the proposed mining revenue sharing scheme moving.

“It (proposed scheme) has to move but there is no deadline as to when it should be passed,” Mines and Geosciences Bureau director Leo Jasareno told reporters after the meeting of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) at the Board of Investments last Friday.

Last June, the MICC approved the scheme in which mining firms will have to remit to the government either 10 percent of the gross revenues or 55 percent of adjusted net mining revenues plus a percentage of the excess profit, whichever is higher.

The proposed scheme will apply to metallic mines put up under Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) and Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA).

At present, mining firms operating under an MPSA pay a two-percent excise tax on gross sales, as well as regular corporate income tax, business tax and payments for indigenous people affected by the mining operations. Those operating in mineral reservation areas pay an additional five-percent royalty.

Firms with FTAA contracts meanwhile, share 50 percent of their revenues with the government.

Following the MICC’s approval, the proposed scheme was sent to Malacañang for endorsement to Congress.

Amid concerns raised on the proposed revenue-sharing scheme, Jasareno said the MICC will be holding a dialogue with the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP).

“Part of our protocol is to continue engaging with them,” he said.

The COMP said earlier the proposed revenue-sharing scheme will make the local mining industry uncompetitive and discourage investments as the country currently imposes the highest mining tax rates in the world.

The MICC, a joint committee of the Economic Development Cluster and the Climate Change Cluster, was created by Executive

By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star)

August 25th: TVIRD secures tribal consent for Balabag mining project.

THE local affiliate of Canadian miner TVI Pacific Inc. has secured the consent of the Subanen tribe of Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur for the development of the Balabag mining project.

In a statement, TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) said it has concluded its free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) process following two months of “exhaustive” public consultations with tribal communities to be affected by the proposed mining operations.

Under the supervision of the National Commission on Indigenous People, TVIRD entered into a memorandum of agreement with tribal leaders Lucenio Manda and Casiano Edal, who represent the collective Subanen people in the Municipality of Bayog.

“Nearly two years after the dismantling of illegal mining operations in the area – an initiative spearheaded by Provincial Governor Antonio Cerilles – the tribe now has clear reason to hope for the remediation of prior environmental destruction from exploitive artisanal mining and a transparent roadmap for mutual development with TVIRD,” the company said.

Bayog encompasses TVIRD’s Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) area covering 4,779 hectares in Sitio Balabag in Barangay Depore where it is primed to bring its gold and silver project on stream.

Timuay Manda, who is also a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Bayog, expressed confidence with TVIRD, saying that the entire municipality supports the sustainable development of the mining area.

“We are exercising our right to keep illegal mining from returning to our town,” he said.

Earlier, Sitio Balabag was the center of disaccord between illegal miners and the tribal leaders who support TVIRD. The agreement signed by the Subanens is a prerequisite for a Certification Precondition to be issued by the NCIP Commission En Banc in order for the company to operate its Balabag Mining Project.

“Based on its success in Canatuan, we believe in TVIRD’s capability to implement development (in Bayog),” said Manda, who succeeded his father, Rosendo, as one of the leaders of the ancestral domain.

Another basis for their approval, Manda said, was the company’s flagship gold and silver project that came on stream in the town of Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte in 2004.  In early 2014, the company concluded its successful 10-year run in Canatuan with its final copper and zinc concentrate shipments.

Manda places priority on his people above all else and said that consultation with his tribe will always take precedence.  He explained that while various NGOs do not support mining, he believes in transparency and maintaining a critical balance between the tribe and the government that he serves.

Given its mineral-rich environment, the Subanens of Bayog are likewise confident that mining will enhance economic activity in the town while royalties are direct benefits that they can invest in the tribe’s future.  Similarly, they look forward to prosperity experienced by their fellow lumads in Siocon who witnessed its rise from a fourth-class municipality to first-class status.

“The MOA signing is significant to us.  Employees (of TVIRD) may change, but the commitment on both sides would remain.  That is legacy building.  When mining is done, there will still be sustainable development – there will be infrastructure left behind to support local trade and economy,” Manda said.

“We want the TVIRD-Subanen partnership to be a model for development – a testament that securing the tribe’s free, prior and informed consent is a transparent process that can bring social and economic benefits.  And by consulting with everyone involved, each will have ownership over the process,” he explained, citing the consultative relationship he shares with his contemporary, Timuay Casiano Edal, and the development of a consensus over the past two months.

Last June 18, the NCIP held a conference to explain the process of securing free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to Subanen tribal leaders, key TVIRD personnel and representatives from the Municipality of Bayog.  The agency coordinated with all stakeholders before proceeding with the FPIC process.

A Community Consultative Assembly was then conducted from July 8 to 11 in which TVIRD explained all the necessary components of the Balabag Mining Project, including Company Profile, Mining and Milling Process, Environmental Enhancement and Protection Plan (EPEP), and the Social Development Management Plan (SDMP).  At the same congregation, the DENR-MGB presented the Philippine Mining Act (RA7942) and its implementing rules and regulations, while the NCIP presented the IPRA Law and the FPIC process itself.

On July 23 and July 28, the Ancestral Domain Council and the NCIP were engaged in consensus building, which is one of the final parts of the consultation process prior to unanimously deciding to pursue TVIRD’s Balabag mining project.  While the law requires consultation among the four affected barangays, the process nonetheless engaged the Subanen leadership in all their 22 barangays.

TVI Pacific Inc. is a Canadian resource company focused on the production, development, exploration, and acquisition of resource projects in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

TVI’s affiliate, TVIRD, produces copper and zinc concentrates from its Canatuan mine and is advancing its Balabag Gold-Silver project. TVI is a direct or indirect participant and operator in several joint venture projects in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea and also has an interest in an offshore Philippine oil property.


August 25th: Gov’t engages miners on proposed revenue sharing scheme.

The Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) has reached out to the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines and other foreign chambers as it hopes to work out the issue raised by the local and foreign business community over the proposed mining revenue-sharing scheme.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau director Leo L. Jasareno however admitted that there would be little room left for further adjustments in the proposed bill which was already submitted to the Office of the President (OP).

“The [business groups] sent a formal letter to the MICC, raising some issues, such as the government’s share [under the new bill] being too high, and that the proposed scheme will not be competitive and will only discourage further investments,” Jasareno explained. “But the proposed bill is already completed and is with the Office of the President. We just want to meet with them to discuss the issues and explain to them our side. This is part of our protocol to continue engaging them.”

The MICC is also set to meet with members of Congress on Sept. 1 to push the proposed bill.

Under the MICC-proposed tax-sharing scheme, the government will take 55 percent of a mining operation’s adjusted net revenue or 10 percent of gross revenue, whichever is higher. There are also provisions on taking a certain percentage from windfall profits. This will be much higher than the current tax regime, which only takes 2 percent of the gross revenue in a mining operation, plus 5 percent if the mining site is classified a mineral reservation area.

That’s the principle behind the new scheme, for the government to have a higher share or stake and to implement a more simplified computation,” Jasareno further said.

Business groups have earlier called for the retention of the existing Philippine Mining Act, considering it to be an effective piece of legislation if properly implemented.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines also cautioned the government in further raising taxes on mining under the proposed reforms to the existing Mining Act because this would only serve as a disincentive to many prospective investors.

The Philippine government must also strictly regulate small-scale miners to ensure that they will pay their fair, rightful share of taxes to the government. The government must also make sure that these miners will be as socially and environmentally responsible as the large mining companies, CanCham president Julian H. Payne said in an earlier interview.

COMP, for its part, expressed dismay over the MICC’s proposed tax hikes, which the group said would not help in attracting investments needed to develop the country’s mineral resources in a responsible manner.

By Amy R. Remo, Philippine Daily Inquirer

August 25th: MGB to reassess ‘non-mining areas’.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has agreed to review “no- go zones” or areas where mining operations are prohibited, after several mining companies filed applications to explore some of those sites.

“There are mining companies complaining that the policy is not accurate on the ground. So the recommendation is to check areas within the zone that have pending application for exploration,” MGB director Leo Jasareno said over the weekend.

MGB earlier completed the mapping of no-go zones, in line with the implementing rules and regulation of Executive Order No. 79, which instituted reforms in the mining sector.  The order banned mining in tourism sites, protected areas, prime agricultural lands, lands covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, agri-fisheries sites and other critical areas such as island ecosystems.

The no-go zone policy reduced the areas open for mining development by half.

The Minerals Industry Development Coordinating Council met with various stakeholders Friday at the Board of Investments to resolve the issue on no-go zones.  Four companies complained of inaccuracy over the implementation of the no go zone policy, including Surewin Mining Develoment Corp., Itawes Mining Exploration Limited Company, Mt. Baua Mining Corp. and Ludguron Mining Corp.

The four companies, in a letter dated June 6, requested for the exclusion of areas occupied by the mining companies from the coverage of no-go zones.

The companies claimed the said mineral areas would be “more useful for mining of valuable minerals for the benefit of the country since the said minerals will help in generating foreign exchange for the country in addition to generating huge employment opportunities for the host communities.”

Surewin Mining has a pending application to explore 8,136 hectares in Abulug and 4,000 hectares in Pamplano, both in Cagayan province.

Itawes applied to explore 4,663 hectares of open area in Alamada, North Cotabato; 7,568 hectares in Capisayan, Gattaran, Cagayan; and 5,852 hectares in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.

Mt. Baua has pending application for exploration of 5,368 hectares of open area in Abulug and Pamplona, Cagayan while Ludguron Mining has two pending applications in North Cotabato for 10,175 hectares in the towns of Alamada, Aleosan, Banisilan, Carmen and Libungan and another 6,274 hectares in Alamada and Banisilan.

By Othel V. Campos Aug. Manila Standard Today

August 24th: Mining firms seek exclusion from ‘no go’ zone.

Four mining companies have sought for the exclusion of eight areas, which have been designated as part of the government’s “no go” zone or areas banned from mining activities.

The four mining firms are Itawes Mining Exploration Limited Company, Surewin Mining Development Corp., Mount Baua Mining Corp., and Ludgoron Mining Corp.

In separate letters addressed to Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, chairmen of the Minerals Industry Coordinating Council, dated June 6, 2014, the four firms stated, “We respectfully request the exclusion of the areas occupied by the above applications from the coverage of the NO GO ZONE areas being adopted by the Mineral Industry Coordinating Council. The said mineral areas become more useful for mining of valuable minerals for the benefit of the country since the said minerals will help in generating foreign exchange for the country in addition to generating huge employment opportunities for the host communities.”

Itawes has sought for the exclusion from the “no go” zone three areas it has applied for exploration permits. These areas are in Alameda, North Cotabato (EXPA No. 082-XII-2007) covering 4,663 hectares; Capisayan, Gattaran, Cagayan (EXPA No. 00099-11) covering 7,568 hectares;and Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro (EXPA No. IVB-324) covering 5,852 hectares.

Surewin has two areas for exclusion. These are in Abalug, Cagayan (EXPA No. 117-11) covering 8,136 hectares, and in Pamplona, Cagayan (EXPA No. 118-11) covering 4,066 hectares.

Mount Baua has sought for exclusion of its mining sites in Abalug and Pamplona, Cagayan (EXPA No. 000219-II) covering 5,368 hectares. Ludgoron Mining Corp. has sought “no go” exclusion for two sites. One is in Alamada, Aleosan, Banisilan, Carmen and Libungan in North Cotabato (EXPA No. 084-XII-2007) covering 10,175 hectares/ The other site is in Alamada and Banisilan, North Cotabato (WXPA No. 085-XII-2007) covering 6,274 hectares.

In an interview with reporters after the Mining Industry Coordinating Council meeting on Friday, Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Leo Jasareno explained there have been some problems arising from the implementation of the “no go” mining zone, which now covers 90 percent of all mining areas because even those with existing and pending applications have been included in the “no go” zone map.

“By nature, the no go zone has really expanded,” he said.

As a result, Jasareno said the open areas for mining in the country have been reduced by 50 percent under Executive Order 79.

So far, however, only the four have formally submitted requests for exclusion.

According to Jasareno, MGB has already agreed to conduct an actual verification of the “no go” zones on the ground.

For instance, he noted, one “no go” zone covered is a livestock development area.

“We have to verify if there is really a livestock activity in that particular area, what if the livestock is only 1 percent of the entire no go zone area. In that case, we should not declare the entire area a no go zone,” he said.

According to Jasareno, complaints are largely because of inaccuracies in the designation of no go zones.

“So we have to verify on the ground rather than fully rely on the no go zone designation,” he said.

Meantime, Jasareno said it is up to Congress to decide on how to treat the continuing opposition from the mining sector over the government’s proposed revenue sharing scheme because the MICC has already made up its decision.

“The industry position has not changed from the very beginning,” he said.

The draft new mining bill has been submitted to Malacañang already.

Manila Bulletin.


August 22nd: Marcventures expects net profit to reach P1B in ’14

Nickel mining firm Marcventures Holdings Inc. expects to end this year with about P1 billion in net profit, matching last year’s level, as its Cantilan mine in Surigao del Sur rekindled operations after a two-month suspension.

The two-month suspension of both Cantilan and Carrascal mines of Marcventures’ Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. (MMDC) could easily translate to about P500 million in foregone income right at the peak of nickel prices, Marcventures executive vice president Isidro C. Alcantara Jr. said in an interview.

But now that the suspension order on Cantilan had been lifted, Alcantara said, MMDC could still make 50 shipments of nickel ore to China and other overseas markets for the full year, allowing the company to meet its goal of booking a net profit of P1 billion for 2014.

Alcantara said this would be feasible even if MMDC’s other mining area in Carrascal were to remain dormant. Recently, Marcventures disclosed that the suspension order on Cantilan had been lifted by mining regulators. There is no word yet on when the suspension order on Carrascal will be lifted.

“Carrascal will be a big benefit because cost [of operations] in Carrascal is lower than in Cantilan,” Alcantara said, noting that the company would only need to haul nickel ore for 10 kilometers from Carrascal, unlike Cantilan which is 23 kilometers away from the port.

But whatever the outcome on Carrascal, Alcantara said MMDC would work double-time this second semester to meet its full-year goal. The company has the authority to extract as much as three million weight metric tons (WMT) of nickel ore this year, the bulk of which will be sourced from Cantilan alone.

In the first six months of the year, Marcventures posted a net profit of P145.74 million—only half of the P304.23 million posted in the same period last year, the company reported in its latest regulatory filing. In the second quarter alone, its net profit plunged to P95.17 million, from last year’s P330.92 million, due to the suspension of the two mining projects.

On April 23, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) ordered the suspension of MMDC’s two mines in Surigao for alleged violations. But Marcventures refuted allegations that MMDC had failed to maintain environmental mitigation measures in the Cabangahan area, as well as findings of “unsystematic method of extraction” in Pili.

On the allegation that MMDC was conducting mining operations outside the approved mining area, Marcventures argued that MMDC had “validly obtained all the necessary permits from the MGB.”

During the two-month suspension, MMDC was able to sell 579,781 WMT of nickel ore equivalent to 11 shipments to China. It was 26 percent lower than the 787,961 WMT, or 14 shipments, reported in the same period last year.  Doris C. Dumlao

By Philippine Daily Inquirer

August 21st: Protest vs closure of mining firms continues

STA CRUZ, Zambales: Residents in this town on Thursday vowed to continue their protest against the closure of four mining companies that left many of them without livelihood.

Orlan Mayor, spokeperson of the Coalition of Mine Workers, Families and Communities (CMWFC), said aside from job loses, the scholarships of students and other social development programs supported by the companies are in danger of being pulled out if the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will not lift the suspension of the mining firms soon.

Region 3 Director Danilo Uykieng, officer in charge of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau under the DENR, ordered the suspension Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc., and LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. last month after they failed to pass a regulatory evaluation of their operations.

Mayor said the suspension of these companies has affected more than 3,000 workers who rely on mining jobs to support their families.

Zambales, which is rich in nickel and chromite, has attracted large-scale mining companies.

Mayor said the prospects of finding jobs for the displaced workers are also dim since the only other source of livelihood in the province is farming.

“Malaking tulong ang trabaho namin sa minahan, wala naman ibang trabaho dito sa probinsiya maliban dyan. Pwede naman mag saka pero seasonal lang naman yun [Working at the mine is a big help, there is no other job in this province aside from that. We can farm but it is just seasonal],” explained Mayor.

He added: “Paano na yung pamilya nung libong mangagawa ng minahan kung patuloy kaming walang trabaho? [What will happen to the thousands of workers if we continue to be jobless?]”.

On Monday, thousands of protesters, including students, farmers and others sectors which the companies have been supporting, trooped to the provincial capitol to seek an audience with Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. to air their grievances.

Ebdane, for his part, promised to endorse the workers’ plea to the DENR for the lifting of the suspension order.

Ebdane told the protesters that the province needs the mining industry for economic growth and at the same time, he also urged the mining companies to operate responsibly.

Ebdane said he will veto an ordinance should the Sangguniang Panlalawigan pass one declaring Zambales as mining free.


August 21st: Local bizmen now run illegal mining in CdeO.

THE City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (Clenro) said the illegal mining operations in the city are no longer owned and managed by foreign nationals.

The bad news: local entrepreneurs have taken over the mining industry.

“It is usually owned and operated by foreign nationals like the Chinese or Korean businessmen before. Presently, it is handled by the locals who were once partners with those foreign businessmen, and who received capital for its operations,” Clenro chief Edwin Dael said Wednesday.

Dael said the Mines and Geosciences Bureau filed cases against three Chinese nationals who ventured into the illegal mining business. One was convicted and deported which the Bureau of Immigration in the region (BI-10) confirmed.

“Somehow, with the [seizure] of equipment and [with] owners being chased by the law enforcement, statistics on Chinese nationals’ entry [into the region] compared to the past years are low for the past few months,” BI-10 alien control officer Florentino Diputado said Tuesday.

As of last BI-10 count from January to June of this year, there are 204 registered Chinese nationals who entered the region, second to the 206 Americans who are in Northern Mindanao.

Dael added that most of the Chinese who were captured are tourists who did not have a working visa, but they have no plans of investing on mining in the city.

“I wonder why they get tourist visas and not working visas when if you are truly interested to establish a legal business on mining here in the city, then it must undergo a legal process,” he said.

He explained that some foreign nationals penetrated the mining industry in the Philippines because they have the money to run such a venture, a factor that local businessmen do not have.

“The foreign nationals can buy backhoes, barges, water pumps, can pay their workers while the local businessmen cannot afford these. Mining business involves a large amount of money that should run throughout the span of the business,” he said.

Clenro announced that although only local businessmen, mostly local government officials, are going into illegal mining operations now, the environment is still threatened.

“They have water pumps and other mining equipment that can still erode tons of soil or can erase a mountain in the map, therefore, they are still a threat,” he added.

In the previous articles related to the issue, 800 particles per million (ppm) of total suspended soil were found in the long stretch of the Iponan River. Currently, there are only 400ppm.

By Alyssa C. Clenuar, Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.

August 21st: Philippines: SMI renews bid for $5.9bn mining project.

Despite government failure to address policy issues in the mining industry, Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) is still hopeful it will get the necessary permits and clearances needed to pursue its stalled Tampakan Copper and Gold Project.

It is poised to conduct more rounds of consultations with stakeholders, including obtaining the consent of communities and local government units that will be affected by its multi-billion dollar project.

The Tampakan project straddles the Mindanao provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and Sarangani in the Philippine covering more than 20,000 hectares.

SMI currently holds ownership of the Tampakan project.

Early this month, the Mines and Geoscience Bureau forwarded to its central office the feasibility study of SMI for further review.

The mining company earlier scaled down its operations and has not given a timetable when it would commence commercial operations after the government failed to settle the issue on government share in the proceeds and income of mining operations in the country.

The government set up the Mining Industry Coordinating Council to thresh out a host of mining policy issues, including amending the 1995 Philippine Mining Act.

Malacañang, however, has yet to release results of consultations held by the council and is yet to submit to Philippine Congress a draft proposal that will amend the mining law.

A source from SMI who requested anonymity as he is not authorized to issue a statement said they are still working with the national government to resolve key issues.

These include permitting requirements, fiscal regime and others that the “national government can address.”

SMI had already obtained an environment compliance certificate to proceed with its project but was  to obtain approval and business permits from host local government units.

The local government of South Cotabato however passed an ordinance in 2010 banning the use of open-pit mining in the province.

SMI was also required by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to obtain anew free, prior and informed consent of indigenous communities that will be affected by its mining operations.

Company sources said it will begin the process of obtaining consent from tribal communities in September.

Key corporate issues

As this developed, minority SMI stockholder Indophil Resources NL said it is confident they will be able to proceed with the US$ 5.9 billion project after its majority partner Glencore successfully sold the latter’s interest in the Las Bambas copper and gold project in Peru to Chinese investors.

One of the reasons Glencore withheld full financing for the project was the uncertainty of the Las Bambas sale which, if it did not push through, could have meant the sale of the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project.

“In principle, we understand that on closure, this divestment frees Glencore and therefore its interest in Tampakan from the MOFCOM conditions,” the Australia-based Indophil said in its report to the Australia Stock Exchange in July.

Indophil was referring to the conditions set by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce before it approved the merger between Glencore International and Xstrata PLC to form the world’s 4th largest diversified mining company.

The merger put into hold the full development of the Tampakan project as Glencore, who owns 62.5 per cent of SMI, publicly stated it was not keen on pursuing ‘greenfield’ projects.

Greenfield projects are those that are yet to commence commercial production.

The rest of SMI’s stake, at 37.5 percent, is owned by Indophil Resources NL.

SMI earlier announced it would commence commercial production in 2019.

But due to several uncertainties that included difficulties in obtaining government permits, Glencore scaled down its exposure to the project forcing SMI to lay off 940 of its workers and employees, representing 85 per cent of its total workforce.

SMI likewise terminated the services of its consultants including its drilling operations.

Asian Correspondent

Daily World News | » Asian.

August 17th: Benguet Corp eyes $30-M financing for Balatoc gold tailings.

MANILA, Philippines – Benguet Corp. is working to close by the end of this year the financing deal for its $30 million Balatoc gold tailings project in Benguet province, a ranking company official said.

Benguet Corp, chief finance officer Renato Claravall said the company is in talks with a local financing institution. He declined to identify the firm pending the conclusion of the transaction.

“We are just looking for the right hedge. Because we have to hedge the gold price,” said Claravall in a recent interview.

Benguet Corp., through its subsidiary Balatoc Gold Resources Corp., targets to finish before 2017 a gold recovery facility that would salvage gold from 16.7 million tons of tailings impounded in three tailings ponds in its Acupan gold mine in Benguet. Some .65 grams of gold can be recovered per ton of tailings.

Around 85 percent of the total volume of deposited tailings would be processed for gold recovery.

“If we can have financing within the year, we can have the first pouring by January 2017,” said Claravall.

He said a mineral processing permit has been given for the gold recovery project which would comprise a main processing plant having, a flotation facility, a fine grinding area, a CIP tank, and a gold storage facility. It would cost the company $22.8 million for the actual cost of equipment.

Claravall said it would take at least two years to build the plant with the first pouring of tailings expected to take place in 2017.

Tailings deposited in the Acupan mine are expected to be exhausted within 10 years of operations of the gold recovery facility but plans are in place to ramp up production in the Acupan mine, therefore sustaining the supply of tailings to the gold recovery facility.

“We will continue to develop our Acupan mine which would create more tailings,” he said.

Within the 10-year operation of the gold recovery facility, some 180,000 ounces of gold are expected to be produced.

Assuming that the price of $1, 300 per ounce of gold remains constant for the 10-year duration, the company expects to reap in revenues of $235 million dollars from the recovered gold.

Claravall said the company is now studying how to increase production in the Acupan mine.

“We are now studying how to increase capacity. We have to conduct detailing for the expansion. We will be needing a major drilling program for that,” he said.

By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star)

August 17th: Miners oppose ‘no go’ mining zone.

Guillermo Luz, private sector representative to the Economic Cluster of the Cabinet, told reporters at the Futuristics Society forum in Makati on Friday that the Minerals Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) will meet on Friday, August 22, to thresh out some kinks in the proposed new mining bill.

“The most contentious is still the revenue sharing,” Luz said citing the industry’s opposition but hastened to add that it is not the only issue.

“Some private guys even tell me they don’t like the ‘no go’ zone. How can that be when we have some environmental protection issues here,” said Luz.

“I tell foreign investors, there is no way the government can have complete open policy that there is ‘no go’ and ‘go zone.’ We have laws that outline the ‘go and no go’ zones already so this just a matter of enforcement. There is a bit of play but there are certain laws in place already. We cannot change those, and if we will, it will take long amendments. So, I don’t think that’s contemplated,” Luz stressed.

These laws are embedded in the environmental laws, like the integrated protected areas, he said.

Luz said that the “no go” mining zone is a non-negotiable.Under Executive Order 79 signed by President Aquino on July 6, 2012, the areas identified as “no-go” mining zones have been expanded to include 78 tourism sites, and farms, marine sanctuaries and island ecosystems in response to the public clamor to protect the environment from mining.

He, however, said the government is open to listening to the private sector’s stand on revenue sharing. Under the MICC-approved revenue sharing scheme, the government will take 55 percent of the industry’s net revenues or 10 percent of gross revenue, whichever is higher.

Luz has also acknowledged the urgency in passing the bill although he noted the legislative measure is still a part of the administration’s priority bills.

“The need to pass the bill is also made urgent because the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative review is coming soon. So, we have to do something,” he said.

The Philippines has sought to become an EITI compliant. So far, there are 25 IETI compliant countries, 16 candidate countries, including the Philippines, and 35 countries that have produced EITI reports.

He, however, equally stressed the need to carefully craft the new mining bill because “unlike other industries mining is something that if you make a mistake you have to live with that mistake for a long time but you will also live with the benefit if you make the right decision.”

“But we need to make a decision because mining can be a big part of any economy, it is a major contributor to the economy like the economies of Peru, Brazil, Chile, Canada, Australia,” he said.

Luz also noted of the negative impression formed by the foreign mining investors, who have been on a wait and see for awhile. The nil investments in the mining sector has been blamed to the delay in the passage of the new mining law.

“This is understandably so because they cannot move unless government policies are made public,” he said.

Once the MICC has finalized the proposed new Mining Act, Luz said, it will go the economic cluster of the Cabinet and to Malacañang and then for filing in Congress.

From Manila Bulletin.

August 17th: Philex awaits MGB

PHILEX Mining Corporation said its major projects and programs will not proceed as long as there is no clearance from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

The Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) earlier lifted the cease and desist order issued to Philex, allowing them to operate.

The MGB decision will determine if the company will be given a permit to permanently operate as the suspension order it issued in 2012 is still in effect following the leak of its tailings pond.

“We are hoping the decision will come out by this month,” Philex head for legal affairs Ed Aratas said.

The PAB decision covers only violations of the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004 and the terms of its environmental compliance certificate (ECC).

Philex paid PAB P188.6 million in fines for the 2012 leak in Padcal. The fine covers violation of the Philippine Clean Water Act for the discharge of nontoxic water and sediment from Padcal’s Tailings facility.

The decision now lies with DENR-MGB Director Leo Jasareno.

Philex Mines has been operating for 50 years in the province and stopped operations in August of 2012 because of a defective tailings after two weeks of heavy rains brought about by typhoons Ferdie and Gener.

The cleanup of the Balog creek is also almost done except for areas under the jurisdiction of the National Power Corporation which has yet to be cleaned pending permission from the company.

Philex has successfully closed its penstock and is now using its fully operational spillway, after the leak which released water into the Balog and Agno rivers.

By Maria Elena Catajan, Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 18, 2014.

August 16th: Benguet governor cites Philex environmental programs at Padcal

Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan lauded Philex Mining Corp. for its environmental programs implemented by Padcal mine, in this province, as they signed a public-private partnership on climate-change advocacy with six other government and nongovernment offices.

“I was the one who suggested that Philex Mining be included… since they have great environmental activities,” he said after the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on Climate Change Advocacy Project, at the Benguet State University (BSU), in the provincial capital of La Trinidad. “I was really looking for a strong partnership for the environment … because of the destruction of forests.”

With the theme “Nagbabago na ang Panahon, Panahon na Para Magbago” (The Time is Changing, It’s Time to Change), the Aug. 1 event marked the MOA signing between Philex Mining, the Benguet government, Philippine Information Agency (in Baguio City), Benguet Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, BSU, Department of Education-Benguet, SN Aboitiz Corp.-Benguet, and the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc. (JVOFI).

Francis Ballesteros, manager for Government Relations at Philex Mining, stressed the company’s commitment for environmental conservation through its various projects under its CSR, or corporate social responsibility, Program. He added that this is in line with the MVP group of companies’ adherence to sustainable development, or promoting economic progress while protecting the environment.

In 2013, Padcal mine had planted a total of 305,590 seedlings of various forest- and fruit-tree species across 250 hectares of the newly and previously established areas at its mine site, and another 140 hectares of the previously established plantation areas for enhancement. This brought to over 8 million seedlings of forest and fruit-bearing tree species planted across 2,465 hectares of land in the host towns of Itogon and Tuba.

The six-page MOA stressed what it described as the “worldwide concern” on the institution of “mitigation measures” to combat climate change. “Whereas, there is a need to tap partners and stakeholders … which play a vital role in the advocacy campaign on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.”

As stipulated in the accord’s Article VI, Philex Mining is tasked to support the climate-change advocacy campaign through the production of seedlings, tree planting activities, and the donation of seedlings for the environmental programs of various public and private groups.

Addressing some high-school students belonging to the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Program, whose eco-leaders concluded Friday their two-day seminar-workshop on climate change, Mr. Fongwan said: “We should not lose hope, especially with the young [people around]. We can still reforest… Let’s not stop our advocacy with the signing of this MOA.”

From Manila Bulletin

August 16th: Atlas Mining reports P989-M net income in H1 on higher output

loss last year of P600 million.Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation reported a 32 percent rise in a net income to P989 million for the first half of 2014 even with lower realized copper and gold prices.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Atlas said earnings rose as copper, gold and nickel sales volume sustained a growth of 20 percent, 31 percent and 35 percent, respectively, to offset lower prices.

The increase in sales volume pushed revenues to P8.7 billion or a 23 percent increase from last year.

“The first half results show that we are starting to realize the benefits of our investments particularly in the newly completed plant expansion project and the advance development of the higher-grade orebody,” said Atlas Mining executive vice president  Adrian Ramos.

He added that “these give us the confidence that we can expect further improvement in production and operational efficiencies as the full potential of our expansion is attained.”

Atlas Mining’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Carmen Copper Corporation registered a 21 percent increase year-on-year in total production for the first six months with 53.48 million pounds of copper metal in concentrate produced.

It increased its average daily milling capacity to 48,149 tons per day (tpd) and improved its copper recovery to 84 percent. These production improvements were driven by the copper processing plant expansion that was commissioned in March 2014.

As production increased, total volume of copper shipments likewise rose by 20 percent to 52.33 million pounds of copper metal in concentrate while gold content was up by 31 percent.

The increase in shipment volume, however, was tempered by the decrease in the realized price of copper which dropped by 7 percent to an average of US$3.15 per pound, and the decrease in the realized price of gold which dropped by 13 percent to US$1,295 per ounce.

Additional revenues from copper of P500 million should have been realized had the copper price remained at last year’s level.

Atlas Mining’s performance for the first half got a boost from its nickel subsidiary, Berong Nickel Corporation, which posted a 50 percent increase in its production volume and 35 percent in its shipment volume resulting in an increase in its revenues by 76 percent.

However, core income decreased by 36% due mainly to the P431 million income tax provision this year as the income tax holiday incentive of Carmen Copper has already expired.

The Peso strengthened this year against the US dollar resulting to an unrealized foreign exchange gain of P285 million compared to the unrealized foreign exchange loss last year of P600 million.

From Manila Bulletin





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