June 30, 2017: Philippines open-pit mining ban has “no legal basis” -govt official
MANILA: A ban on open-pit mining in the Philippines enforced by former environment minister Regina Lopez has “no legal basis” and is under review, a senior government official said, the first sign that drastic measures she had ordered could be challenged.
“In the Philippines … surface mining or ‘open-pit’ is technically and financially feasible,” Larry Heradez, head of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau’s legal division, told reporters on Thursday.
It was the first time a government official has countered a policy previously issued by Lopez, who was dismissed last month.
A staunch environmentalist, Lopez led a 10-month mining crackdown, ordering the closure or suspension of 26 mines in the world’s top nickel ore supplier and imposing a ban on open-pit mining, which she said “kills the economic potential of the place.”
June 28, 2017: MGB to explore manganese nodules, sulfides and rare earths in Philippine Rise
Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) directed the Mines Bureau (MGB) to fast track the geological investigation and exploration for minerals, particularly polymetallic sulfide at the Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, which could be a source of huge revenues for the government. Executive order No. 25, signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on May 16, 2107, changed the name of Benham Rise to Philippine Rise.
Dr. Yolanda M. Aguilar, MGB Central Office Marine Geological Survey Division OIC-Chief said that they are preparing to conduct further exploration and surveys at the Philippine Rise to look for manganese nodules and sulphides, like gold, copper, and for possible rare earths and methane ice.
At present, a reconnaissance geological and geophysical survey is currently being planned and more studies and long term program proposals are being prepared, to explore the Philippine Rise using the MGB’s research vessel, RPS Explorer.
“I requested Dr. Aguilar to prepare a program proposal so that we will know what is needed to really make sure that the RPS Explorer is fit to conduct exploration in the extended continental shelf to cover 150-250 nautical miles for possible exploration,” DENR Undersecretary for Mining and Concurrent MGB Director Mario Luis J. Jacinto said.