DENR may hold issuance of small-scale mining permits

- Zinnia B. Dela Peña () - March 3, 2008 - 12:00am

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is considering suspending the issuance of small-scale mining permits for nickel and ore in view of the anomalies committed by some companies.

During a forum sponsored by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines and the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) last Friday, a speech by DENR Secretary Lito Atienza, read by Mines & Geosciences Bureau Horacio Ramos said the proposed moratorium is the subject of a draft Department Administration Order (DAO).

Once implemented, the DAO will strip off the power of local government units to issue small-scale mining permits and ore transport permits for nickel, chromite and similar metals.

According to Ramos, the DAO will be circulated to the Mineral Development Council (which includes LGUs) and other shareholders for their comments prior to its publication and implementation.

Ramos, however, pointed out that the order will not be retroactive which means that holders of small-scale mining permits can continue mining until the expiration of their permits.

The moratorium proposal was triggered by an onslaught of environmental violations committed by small-scale mining companies such as the Platinum Group Metals Co. (PGMC), San R Construction, Galeo Equipment & Construction Corp. and  S.R. Metals Inc.

The DENR cancelled the permit of PGMC in January 2007 for extracting 282,729 metric tons of ores covering a period of two years, which is way above the annual production limit of 50,000 metric tons under the small-scale mining law.

An investigation by the MGB and the Environmental Management Bureau showed that PGMC shipped to Australia a total of 308,313.155 MT of laterific ore from June 2005 to June 26, 2006.

PGMC was also found to have used heavy equipment in its operations contrary to law.

Aside from violating the allowable annual production limit, the government was allegedly deprived of much-needed revenues from the sale of the mineral ore estimated to be worth more than P565 million.

Local government units across the country have issued more than 2,000 small-scale mining permits.

CHAMBER OF MINES CONSTRUCTION CORP DEPARTMENT ADMINISTRATION ORDER DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT BUREAU GALEO EQUIPMENT GEOSCIENCES BUREAU HORACIO RAMOS
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