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APRIL 22, 2012 DATE

NR # 2717
REF. NO.

Creation of a new department of mining proposed


A lawmaker has proposed the creation of the Department of Mines to institute a revised regulatory framework for an environment-friendly mining industry. There is now a necessity for a well-regulated mining industry to allow mining to substantially increase its contribution to the national economy while, at the same time, ensure the promotion and protection of the environment, said Rep. Philip A. Pichay (1st District, Surigao del Sur). Pichay, author of House Bill 5781 or the proposed Philippine Mining Code of 2012, said mining is a capital-intensive undertaking and a well-planned exploration and a well-engineered and systematic development and utilization of the countrys mineral reserves require that the deficiencies and limitations of the existing laws must be addressed. The bill seeks to repeal Republic Act 7942 (The Philippine Mining Act of 1995), R.A. 7076 (The Peoples Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991, and Presidential Decree 128 (revising Commonwealth Act 136, creating the Bureau of Mines) and amending Section 15 of Executive Order 192 (providing for the reorganization of the DENR) and Section 25 of Republic Act 4274 (The Mining Engineering Law of the Philippines). Pichay said the proposed department shall be responsible for the conservation, management, development and proper use of the countrys mineral resources as well as licensing, permitting and regulation. The department shall oversee the mining operations of contractors and permittees particularly on mining practices and methods relating to protecting life and property, economy of operations, prevention of pollution, environmental protection and mineral conservation, and order the suspension of any or all mining operations or closure of the mines, Pichay said. Likewise, it is empowered to require the contractors and permittees to take nexcessary measures to provide for the growth and developmebnt of any industry suitable fopr the contract area, other than mining, in order that when the mine is exhausted or becomes no longer profitable for mining purposes the people residing therein or those who used to work for the mine will have a substitute industry or business activity to provide for their means of livelihood, and to place the mine in a condition suitable for habitation or agriculture. Under the bill, the department will absorb the powers and functions of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

APRIL 22, 2012 DATE

NR # 2717
REF. NO.

Pichay noted that in recent years, metal prices have risen dramatically because of the increasing demand for copper, gold and nickel, among others. In 1998 copper, gold and nickel prices were $0.75 per lb., US$295.00 per troy ounce and US$2.10 per lb., respectively. By 2010, copper was averaging US$3.35 per lb., gold US$1,200.00 per troy ounce and nickel, US$9.85 per lb, Pichay said. This tremendous rate has attracted to the mining industry not only many foreign and local investors but also small-scale miners, mostly illegal, Pichay said. Pichay noted that last year, foreign investments reached US$956 million and could have easily surpassed the US$ 1-billion mark had it not been for excessive regulations, anti-mining movements, and local Government interference in purely National Government functions. Despite the mining industrys efforts to address problems relating to the environment and community development, the efforts of some sectors to bring down the industry continues, Pichay said. (30) dpt