What is mining?
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals and other materials from the ground.
What are the different stages of mining?
Mining is composed of four (4) stages, these are:
- Development and Construction
- Utilization/Commercial Operation
- Decommissioning/final mining stage/Rehabilitation stage
What is exploration?
Exploration is the process of searching for valuable minerals and quantifying them. It enables the mining company to determine whether there is a feasible deposit for mining development and production.
How is mining regulated?
Republic Act No. 7942, otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and its Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations, DENR Administrative Order 96-40, as amended, is the main legal framework regulating the mining industry.
On the other hand, Republic Act No. 7076 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, DENR Administrative Order 34, series of 1992, governs small scale mining.
Are all areas open to mining activities?
No, there are areas that are closed to mining. Per Section 19 of the Mining Act, R.A. 7942, Mineral Agreement or Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement applications shall not be allowed:
- In military and other government reservations, except upon prior written clearance by the government agency concerned;
- Near or under public or private buildings, cemeteries, archeological and historic sites, bridges, highways, waterways, railroads, reservoirs, dams or other infrastructure projects, public or private works including plantations or valuable crops, except upon written consent of the government agency or private entity concerned;
- In areas expressly prohibited by law; and
- Old growth or virgin forests, proclaimed watershed forest reserves, wilderness area, mangrove forests, mossy forests, national parks, provincial/municipal forests, parks, greenbelts, game refuge and bird sanctuaries as defined by law and in areas expressly prohibited under the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS) under Republic Act No. 7586, Department Administrative Order No. 25, series of 1992 and other laws.
Can mining and environmental protection co-exist?
Yes, responsible mining and environmental protection can co-exist. Modern and responsible mining does not destroy the environment; it just alters it to another land use. The future use of the land after mining is designed and planned even before mining starts. The government also requires that mining contractors institute an Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program before the mining operation starts in order to protect the environment.
How can the Mining Act safeguard the environment?
The Mining Act and its Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations, DENR AO 96-40, as amended, requires that an Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program covering the period of the mineral agreement or permit be prepared and approved prior to commencement of mining or exploration. The environmental program shall be incorporated in the work program which the contractor or permittee shall submit as an accompanying document to the application for a mining permit or exploration permit. The work program shall include not only plans relative to mining operations but also to rehabilitation, regeneration, revegetation and reforestation of mineralized areas, slope stabilization of mined-out and tailings covered areas, aquaculture, watershed development and water conservation; and socioeconomic development.
Who monitors the compliance of these environmental programs?
To ensure compliance of approved environmental programs, Multipartite Monitoring Teams (MMT) are created to monitor their implementation. The expenses for such monitoring activities are charged to the Monitoring Trust Fund that the Contractor is required to setup. The MMT is composed of representatives from the environmental NGO; the affected communities; the affected Indigenous Cultural Community(ies), if any; the Contractor; from the DENR-Regional Office concerned and the representative of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Regional Office as Head.
How are the interests of the host communities safeguarded?
The Mining Act requires that the Contractor shall assist in the development of its mining community, the promotion of general welfare of its inhabitants and the development of science and mining technology. In line with these, a five-year Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) is prepared in partnership with the host and neighboring communities. The SDMP should be able to provide alternative livelihood opportunities for employees, their dependents, and the neighboring communities during the life-of-the-mine. The mining company is mandated to spend at least 1% of the annual direct mining and milling costs for social program.
Section 62 of the Mining Act also prescribes that the contractor shall give preference to Filipino citizens in all types of mining employment within the country insofar as such citizens are qualified to perform the corresponding work with reasonable efficiency and without hazard to the safety of the operations. Priority is also given to the local residents in hiring workers for the mining project.
What are the guarantees to protect the indigenous peoples?
Under Section 16 of the Mining Act, “No ancestral land shall be opened for mining operations without the prior and informed consent of the indigenous cultural community concerned.”
In the event of an agreement with an indigenous cultural community, royalty payments are also agreed upon by the parties. The said royalty shall form part of a trust fund for the socioeconomic well being of the indigenous cultural community.
Does the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) have the technical capability to audit the environmental management and social development compliances of the mining companies?
Yes, the MGB has the technical capability to monitor the environmental management and social development compliances of mining companies. Most of the technical staff has ample training in environmental and social sciences from Australia, Japan, Netherlands, France or Sweden. Also, the MGB is equipped with a modern laboratory and field equipment for on-site analysis.
What makes the present law better than the old Mining Law?
The Mining Act of 1995 and its Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations, DAO 96-40, as amended ensures that environmental conditions are sustained over the life of the mine. The minimum environmental requirements are the implementation of the following:
- Environmental Work Program (EnWP) – addresses any potential disturbance during the exploration stage.
- Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) – should be secured prior to the development and construction of the mine.
- Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program (EPEP) – the document that details the methods and procedures the company will use in attaining its environmental protection and management objectives over the life-of-the-mine.
- Annual Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program (AEPEP) – based on the pproved EPEP to implement progressive rehabilitation measures.
- Final Mine Rehabilitation/Decommissioning Plan ( FMR/DP) – submitted together with the EPEP before the start of mining operation, ensures that all disturbed areas will be restored, as near, as possible to its original state or to a pre-agreed productive end-use.
- In addition, the mining/exploration permit applicant is required to secure a Certificate of Satisfactory Environmental Management and Community Relations Record.
How would modern mining help the labor industry?
Mining has accounted for about 149,000 employees in its large-scale (mining and quarrying) sector or about 0.40% of total Philippine employment. However, this is significantly higher if the industry’s multiplier effect is considered. While estimates vary, it is safe to assume that for every job generated in the mining industry, around four to six more jobs are indirectly generated in the upstream and downstream sectors.
What is the economic contribution of mining?
Since the revitalization of the minerals industry in 2004, at least US$1.4 billion has already been invested in the country. It is expected that this investment will reach US$11.3 billion by 2011 while generating an annual foreign exchange of at least US$10.1 Billion from exports of mineral products.