Strategies for the Mining Sector (Part I)
Executive Order No. 79 has mapped out clear strategic guidelines for the future rational development of the mining sector in the Philippines to maximize its contribution to economic growth, full employment, a more equitable distribution of income and wealth and a balanced ecology. For complete transparency, the opening of new areas for mining will be done through competitive public bidding. The grant of mining rights and mining tenements over areas with known and verified mineral resources and reserves, including those owned by the Government and all expired tenements, shall be undertaken through competitive public bidding. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) shall prepare the necessary competitive bid packages and formulate the proper guidelines and procedures to conduct the same, which shall include ensuring that the social acceptability of the proposed project has been secured. Social acceptability shall be assured if there are well-defined programs for the protection of the environment, the preservation of the rights and culture of indigenous tribes, the provision of such basic services as education, health and water, and a long-term plan for the sustainable development of the community once the mineral reserves are depleted. This last ingredient of the long-term plan may include the training for entrepreneurship in small and medium-scale agro-industries; the rehabilitation of mined-out areas for other economically productive uses such as retirement villages, tourism facilities, and industrial estates.
The Executive Order also clearly outlines what to do with abandoned ores and valuable metals in mine wastes and mill tailings. All valuable metals in abandoned ores and mine wastes and/or mill tailings generated by previous and now defunct mining operations belong to the State and shall be developed and utilized through competitive public bidding in accordance with the pertinent provisions of law. In the case of existing mining operations, all valuable metals in mine wastes and/or mill tailings shall automatically belong to the State upon the expiration of the pertinent mining contracts and shall be similarly developed and utilized through public bidding; provided, that where two or more
mine sites, covered by their respective mining contracts, share a single tailings pond, both or all mining contracts must expire before the State can claim ownership over the said tailing pond. …