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DENR USec Dolino bares new policies in mining

By PURIFICACION S. DALOOS
September 2, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  “Mining has been identified by our government as one of the major focus areas of economic activity.” This was revealed by Environment Undersecretary Jeremias Dolino when he graced the 1st Regional Mining Stakeholders Forum in Tacloban City recently.

USec Dolino revealed that the latest mining statistics as of July 28, 2010 show that taxes, fees and royalties from mining nationwide amount to 9.175 billion pesos.

However, USec Dolino was quick to admit that the mining industry in the country still faces strong opposition from anti-mining groups. “Various oppositions to mining have stalled the upward growth of the industry,” he laments. “Several NGOs, the church, academe, indigenous peoples and even some local government units have expressed very strong sentiments against mining,” he said.  USec Dolino cited that even in Region 8, the provinces of Eastern Samar and Samar have issued a 50-year moratorium on large scale mining.

For the mining sector to grow and prosper, mining should now be anchored on the principles of sustainable development to ensure that the economic, environmental and social concerns of mining operations would be addressed.

Already, several new policies have been issued by the DENR to make environmental management mandatory in all stages of the mining process.

DENR Memorandum Circular 2010-14 strengthens public participation in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process of environmentally critical projects such as mining. Local government units have also been given representation in the Minerals Development Council to encourage their participation in promoting and developing socially responsible mining in the country through Executive Order No. 469-A.

USec Dolino likewise informed the participants of the Mining Stakeholders Forum about a DENR-DOF-DBM-DILG Joint Circular signed on June 25 this year which revises the guidelines on the release of the share of LGUs derived by the national government from royalty income collected from mineral reservations. The Joint Circular reiterates the 40% revenue share of LGUs. From this, 20% goes to the province, 45% for the component city or municipality and 35% for the host barangay. Meanwhile, highly urbanized cities where the natural resources are located gets a 65% share, while the remaining 35% goes to the host barangay.

USec Dolino announced another positive development in mining that would benefit LGUs and other stakeholders. This is the issuance of DENR Administrative Order No. 2010-13 this year. The DAO requires a mining permit holder/lessee to allot annually a minimum of 1.5% of their operating costs for community development implementation and provide funds for information, education and communication campaigns.

According to him, newly installed President Benigno Aquino, Jr. encourages all sectors involved to meet on common ground to “allay the fears and also afford the people of the benefits of mining investments.”

He also assured the mining stakeholders that the present government shall strictly adhere to the principles of sustainable development even as it promotes mining as a vehicle for economic growth.

“I promote mining, but I have to protect the environment,” USec Dolino said.

The 1st Regional Mining Stakeholders Forum was organized by the Regional Minerals Development Council of Region 8 chaired by RED Primitivo C. Galinato, Jr. in coordination with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau. It was attended by various stakeholders of the mining industry which included representatives of mining companies who are operating in the region, host LGUs, the academe and the church. It was held at the Ritz Tower de Leyte, Tacloban City on August 18, 2010.