by Philippine Resources

To boost government revenues and stimulate economic growth, President Rodrigo Duterte has lifted a nine-year ban on awarding new mining agreements.

Executive Order (EO) 130, given by Duterte, directs the government to “enter into new mineral agreements, subject to compliance with the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and other applicable laws, rules, and regulations.”

Benigno Aquino III, Duterte’s predecessor, instituted the ban in 2012.

Duterte said in his EO that the Philippines has only used about 5% of its natural resources endowment.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was assigned by the EO to “formulate the terms and conditions in the new mineral agreements that will maximize government revenues and share from production, including the possibility of declaring these areas as mineral reservations to obtain appropriate royalties, in accordance with existing laws, rules, and regulations.”

It also requested the DENR to do a review of current mining contracts and arrangements and see whether the terms and conditions could be renegotiated.

On the other hand, the DENR and the Department of Finance will take steps to streamline current revenue sharing programs and processes.

New mining agreements, according to EO 130, will stimulate economic development, which is required to fund government programs like Build, Build, Build and the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Scheme.

The government hopes that lifting the ban would result in more job opportunities in remote rural areas where mining operations are taking place, “thereby stimulating countryside growth.”

DENR completed a comprehensive analysis of the mining industry’s regulatory system and “has [put] in place new laws, legislation, and strategies providing for and reinforcing environmental protections to ensure that mining activities observe environmental security,” according to EO 130.

EO 130 also permits DENR to continue issuing Exploration Permits under existing laws, rules, and guidelines.

Following the acceptance of the declaration of mining project feasibility, the beneficiaries of such exploration licenses will have rights under the said regulations, regulations, and guidelines over the permitted exploration area and will be given the right of first choice to cultivate and exploit the minerals in their respective exploration area. ###