Aug. 1, 2017: Open-pit mining ban stays for now

Aug. 1, 2017: Open-pit mining ban stays for now
 

“There is a department order on the ban on open-pit mining issued by Secretary (Regina Paz L.) Lopez,” Roy A. Cimatu, secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said in a briefing yesterday.

“It still stays.”

Mr. Cimatu, a former general, was appointed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in May after the latter’s previous choice, Ms. Lopez, failed to secure congressional confirmation after a drive to implement radical environment protection measures that raised mining industry hackles.

Staunch environmentalist Ms. Lopez led a 10-month campaign to rein in the mining industry, ordering early in February the closure or suspension of 28 of 41 operational mines in the world’s top nickel ore supplier and imposing a ban on open-pit mining.

Later that month, she also cracked down on 75 other projects in pre-production stage, triggering concern in the wider business community and prompting Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III to convene the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), which he co-chairs with the Environment chief.

Aug. 1, 2017: DENR says open-pit mining ban to stay

Aug. 1, 2017: DENR says open-pit mining ban to stay
 

Decision on mine closures, suspensions moved to end-August Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said yesterday that he would not lift a ban on open-pit mining imposed in April and that an inter-agency mining council would review how mining companies in the Philippines were taxed.

Cimatu, a former general, was appointed by President Duterte in May after the previous choice as environment secretary, Regina Lopez, failed to secure Senate confirmation after a crackdown on mining companies designed to protect the country’s environment.

Duterte said last week he wanted to stop exporting unprocessed mineral resources and warned miners in the world’s top nickel ore supplier he would impose more taxes on the industry to raise money to help communities hurt by their operations.

Aug. 1, 2017: DoF to include mining fiscal regime in tax reform

Aug. 1, 2017: DoF to include mining fiscal regime in tax reform
 

The Department of Finance (DoF) said the mining industry’s fiscal regime will be part of the government’s comprehensive tax reform package (CTRP) after President Rodrigo Duterte reminded all extractive corporations and contractors to pay the right amount of taxes.

Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin, a member of the multi-stakeholder Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), said the body tasked to review the sector fully supports the effort of the President to review the mining laws.

“And in that regard, the MICC has several technical working groups that will undertake the review of the fiscal regime. In fact, we are looking at this to be part of one of the tax reform packages,” he told reporters in an interview over the weekend.

The fiscal regime on the mining industry may be included in the succeeding packages of the CTRP but not under the recently House of Representatives-approved package one or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, Agabin noted.

July 31, 2017: Miners told to invest more in biodiversity conservation

July 31, 2017: Miners told to invest more in biodiversity conservation
 

Environment Chief Roy Cimatu took the similar path as his forerunner Regina Paz Lopez, ordering the miners to put in more money in biodiversity conservation. Only this time, they might actually take it more seriously and comply.

Cimatu said over the weekend that he wants mining companies to integrate biodiversity conservation into their operations as part of their adherence to the principle of responsible mining being espoused by the Duterte administration.

“Responsible mining companies should seek not merely to minimize and mitigate but, where possible, to enhance the biodiversity in areas where they operate,” Cimatu said.

During her stint as the secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Lopez spent so much time talking about biodiversity conservation, saying she preferred billions worth of investments to go to biodiversity than in the mining sector.

Yet, the focus that time was put mostly on her crackdown against mining companies, which eventually prompted the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) — comprised of the country’s largest mining operators — to oppose her appointment.

July 31, 2017: Mines bureau approves FCF’s commercial production

July 31, 2017: Mines bureau approves FCF’s commercial production
 

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Cagayan Valley (Region 2) said it has allowed a London-based mining firm to start commercial production at its mine site with an estimated 1.3 million ounces of gold for 10 years.

Engineer Mario Ancheta, MGB Region 2 director, on Sunday said he approved the commercial operations of FCF Minerals Corporation in Runruno, Quezon town, after the company complied with the mining standards set by the Philippine government.

The company’s Declaration of Commencement of Commercial Operations (DCCO) was signed on July 17, after more than a decade of exploration and development.

Owned 100 percent by the British Metals Exploration Plc, FCF Minerals operates the Runruno Gold-Molybdenum Project, one of the two large-scale mining projects in Nueva Vizcaya, 280 kilometers north of Manila.

The other one is the Melbourne-based OceanaGold’s Didipio Gold and Copper Project in Kasibu, which started commercial operations in April 2013. It is located 40 kilometers from FCF-Runruno.

MGB officials said FCF Minerals intended to start commercial operations in 2016, but the plan was delayed as the company was still working on its compliance requirements.

July 30, 2017: Miners urged to integrate biodiversity

July 30, 2017: Miners urged to integrate biodiversity
 

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is calling on the mining industry to integrate biodiversity conservation and its mining operations to create a more responsible sector.

“Responsible mining companies should seek not merely to minimize and mitigate but to enhance the biodiversity in areas where they operate,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said following an international study, which led to the discovery of 56 new mammal species in Luzon.

Cimatu said the discovery is a big boost to the new mining policy direction of the Duterte administration, which puts premium on the protection and preservation of the nation’s flora and fauna species and their habitats.

“Integrating biodiversity conservation into their mining project cycle would surely help mining companies restore, possibly to near-original condition, mining-affected forests in the country,” Cimatu said.

He added that taking a proactive stance on biodiversity conservation efforts being implemented would serve well the mining sector in showing its sincerity in its response to the President’s call beyond the immediate host communities where they operate.

July 30, 2017: Salceda proposes 10% hike in excise tax for mining industry

July 30, 2017: Salceda proposes 10% hike in excise tax for mining industry
 

LEGAZPI CITY, July 28 — Albay Second District Representative Joey Sarte Salceda is pushing for a 10-percent increase of excise tax from 2 percent for mining to generate bigger taxes from the industry.

Salceda in a phone interview, on Friday, said that the proposed 10 percent increase on excise tax for mining industry will give higher earnings to the government’s coffer and benefit the public once supported by the two chambers of Congress and approved by the President.

“We need to increase the current 2 percent tax on mining as this is too scanty and contributes only meager amount to our GDP. If we raise it to 10 percent excise tax it will propel better contribution to our economy and it will help the host local government unit and definitely it will trickle to the public,” Salceda said.

He said that under the 2 percent mining taxes, the mining host local government units (LGUs) have been receiving 40 percent share but under his proposed bill, LGUs will receive at least a 50-percent share from mining income.

The Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in Bicol said during the Economic and Financial Learning Sessions 3.0 here that mining and quarrying industry in the country contributed at least 8.5 percent in 2014 to 2015 to the GDP and 9.0 percent in 2015 to 2016.

In Bicol, the mining contribution to the GDP is only 1 percent.

July 29, 2017: DENR to probe mine firm for bribery

July 29, 2017: DENR to probe mine firm for bribery
 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Thursday said it would investigate a mining company in Palawan province for allegedly bribing village officials in Brooke’s Point town in a bid to secure an endorsement for its application for renewal of its mining permit.

Natividad Bernardino, DENR regional director in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), said her office had been notified of a complaint raised by Brooke’s Point Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano in the provincial government against Ipilan Nickel Corp. (INC), alleging that the company had bribed officials in exchange for an endorsement of their mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA).

“We are looking into it. If a company follows responsible mining laws, it does not have to bribe anyone to generate support,” Bernardino told the Inquirer in a text message.

July 29, 2017: Eramet plans more nickel cost cuts, to target lower grades – Times of India

July 29, 2017: Eramet plans more nickel cost cuts, to target lower grades – Times of India
 

PARIS, July 27 (Reuters) – Eramet pledged further cost cuts after its nickel division suffered more losses in the first half of the year and said it would shift strategy by entering the lower-grade nickel pig iron market via a mining project in Indonesia.

Like other nickel miners, Eramet has been grappling with persistent weakness in market prices, partly due to moves by Indonesia and the Philippines to go back on restrictions targetting the mining sector.

In an interim results statement on Thursday, Eramet reported an operating loss of 104 million euros for its nickel branch, against an 89 million euro loss a year earlier, although a strong performance at its manganese unit helped it post group current operating profit of 256 million euros.

July 29, 2017: Electronic Cars to Rain Money Over Europe’s Largest Nickel Producers

July 29, 2017: Electronic Cars to Rain Money Over Europe’s Largest Nickel Producers
 
Despite the steady decline of nickel prices in recent years, many analysts expect them to bounce back, perhaps faster than expected due to the skyrocketing popularity of electric cars. Earlier this year, Norway became the first nation where sales of electric vehicles exceeded those of ordinary cars, and more countries are expected to follow this trend amid pledges to weed out petrol driven vehicles in the coming decades.

Alongside lithium, cobalt and manganese, nickel is an important component of electric car batteries. A single Tesla car reportedly contains 63 kilograms of nickel.

Therefore, the hopes for many nickel producers are high after many difficult years. With the Philippines, Russia, Canada, Australia and Indonesia being the world’s leading nations in nickel production, the largest deposits of nickel in non-Russian Europe are found in Finland. After the Philippines and Indonesia shattered the global nickel market by closing down nickel mines or restricting exports, a window of opportunity has been opened for other actors.