DENR to expedite approval of mining applications

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has  committed to improve efficiency of the mining application process for priority projects in two areas in Mindanao, in a bid to boost the industry’s contribution to the economy.

In a statement Monday, the DENR said Environment Acting Secretary Jim Sampulna stressed the importance of expediting the mining approval process in the regions of Northern Mindanao and Zamboanga Peninsula amid the country’s continuing economic recovery from the pandemic.

“In our country’s quest for economic recovery from the long recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the mining industry may well play a significant role. Our country has around nine million hectares of land with high mineral potential, out of its total land area of 30 million hectares,” Sampulna said in his speech read by Undersecretary for Legal, Administration, Human Resources and Legislative Affairs Ernesto Adobo Jr. during a recent consultative meeting on mining concerns in Northern Mindanao and Zamboanga Peninsula.

Latest data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) showed that the mining industry only had a 0.62 percent contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021.

The meeting led by the MGB resulted in the identification of policy gaps and immediate actions from the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on several concerns of mining applicants and permit holders in the two regions.

The fast-tracking of issuance of environmental compliance certificates through simplified geological study by the EMB and the creation of a one-stop shop to streamline mining applications by the MGB were among the topics discussed during the meeting.

It said the faster process on issuance of area and dredging clearances by the DPWH and issuance of the Certificate of Non-Overlap and clarificatory meetings with the NCIP were also discussed.

MGB director Wilfredo Moncano said the aim of the meeting was to address the challenges in filing applications, securing certifications, acquiring permits, and operations of mining projects.

“There were some issues that cannot be addressed because these were not under the jurisdiction of the MGB and the other national government agencies that were present. We can bring these issues to the proper agencies. But, for the other issues, I believe we were able to come up with solutions on most of the problems raised in the consultative meeting,” Moncano said.

The consultative meeting was also attended by Earth Tools and Development Corp. identified by the MGB- Northern Mindanao as a mining priority project under Phase 1, which covers companies in the development and construction stage whose commercial operations are expected to become viable within six months.

Holcim Resources and Development Corp. and CEKAS Development Corp., which are both mining priority projects under Phase 2, also took part in the meeting.

Companies under phase 2 are those in the process of filing for declaration of mining projects’ feasibility, including those in the advanced exploration stage.

Moreover, other issues and concerns surrounding TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc.’s Balabag gold and silver project and Canatuan project and the Industrial Sand and Gravel permit holders in the Zamboanga Peninsula were also discussed during the meeting.

Apart from the prompt approval of permits, Moncano said the meeting also aimed for the compliance of the Ease of Doing Business Law, improvement in the mines permitting system, faster development of the mineral sector, and increased production capacities of mines.

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