The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Executive Order (EO) 130 – which lifted the moratorium on new mining projects and the nationwide ban on open-pit mining method – has already been signed by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu.
In a text message, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Wilfredo Moncano said Wednesday, August 11, that the IRR of EO 130 was already signed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Cimatu and published on August 9, 2021. The IRR will take effect in two weeks.
The final draft of the IRR has the same provisions as its first draft, which was first made public in May.
One of the salient features of the IRR is the provision that lifted the nationwide ban on the open-pit mining method. Under the first draft of the three-page IRR, the government repealed, amended, and modified several department orders of the DENR that were issued in the past.
This includes the DENR Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2017-10, which banned open-pit mines in the country for reasons that they “have ended up as perpetual liabilities [on the part of the government], causing adverse impacts to the environment, particularly due to the generation of acidic and/or heavy metal-laden water, erosion of mine waste dumps and/or vulnerability of tailings dams to geological hazards”.
Once the IRR takes effect, MGB can already start endorsing to Cimatu mining applications, which already passed the lengthy application process.
As of July, MGB has already approved 26 out of 36 applications for new non-metallic mining operations since the issuance of EO 130. A total of 65 other mining applications for Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) are poised to start either this year or next year, depending on when they will be endorsed to Cimatu.
As of December 2020, there are 309 approved MPSAs in the country covering 590,368 hectares of mining areas. Also approved were 3 Exploration Permits covering 36,131 hectares of potential mine sites, data from the MGB showed.
Based on estimates, there are about 9 million hectares of land across the Philippines with high mineral potential.
The other day, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has underscored the importance of full transparency in the extractive industries to build public trust and enable policymakers and stakeholders to better assess their costs and benefits to the economy based on fair and accurate information.
Transparency, which ensures the free flow of accurate data in the extractive industries, also allows better coordination, implementation of appropriate interventions, and greater agility in responding during times of crises, Dominguez said.
Recognizing the important contribution of the extractive industries to the country’s economic resiliency during this pandemic, Dominguez said the government will continue to rely on this sector to provide much-needed revenues, create jobs, and drive economic growth, while striking a “delicate balance between economic development and environmental stewardship.”