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PNoy: Gov't not keen on total mining ban

March 19, 2012 ·  By Rappler.com

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PNoy: Gov't not keen on total mining banMANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III is not keen on imposing a total ban on mining activities in the Philippines but insists that the government deserves its “fair share” of the revenues from mining.

“We don’t think banning altogether is the solution… We want to ensure that we get a fair share,”  Aquino told reporters in Baguio City where he graced the Philippine Military Academy graduation on Sunday, March 18.

The Aquino government is finalizing a new mining policy after several drafts, which have provisions that are not favorable to mining companies here, were leaked.

Aquino’s Cabinet members will release the final order anytime soon.

“Just the other day, the whole cluster, which is a very big group, practically [fllled] the entire Heroes Hall. [There were representatives from]  various departments, agencies, stakeholders, discussing the proposed mining policy,” shared Aquino.

Groups that advocated for total mining ban have reportedly influenced the crafting of the previous mining policy drafts, but mining industry players and pro-mining groups have protested these. The pro-miners organized a mining forum a few weeks ago that highlighted the “sins” of small miners as the ones giving the entire industry a bad name.

Government’s share

“We want to be able to also be part of the processing and we want to maximize the utility of the resource for our people,” he added.

This goes against the position of Philex Mining Corp chair Manuel Pangilinan who said at the mining forum that there is no “economics of scale” to pursue a processing industry here. Philex is the biggest gold producer in the Philippines.

Nonetheless, Aquino said senior officials are studying what should be the “fair share” for the government in terms of revenue from mining activities.

Currently, the Philippines has different modes of mining permits. The FTAA mode — which allows foreign groups to participate in mining activities here — imposes a 50-50 share between the government and the company. However, only 2 firms have availed of it.

Most large-scale mining companies have an MPSA permit, which only imposes a 2% net income tax. The rest are small miners.

“When they extract it from the ground, 2% is what we charge them as tax. What happened to the 98%?” Aquino noted, echoing the position of previous groups that the Phlippines is getting crumbs in this extraction industry.

“The 2% takes care of everything that might happen if there is a disaster. Of course, those of us who remember what happened in Marinduque and the promises that were made are really very wary. That is one of the actual details that are being discussed—what represents fair. I’ve been following it up with them. They tell me that they are very close to submitting it to me for final approval. It’s still not with me,” Aquino told reporters. – Rappler.com

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