(File Photo)

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mine and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) is recommending that only one operator per mining tenement be allowed in the country.

MGB Mining Tenements Management Division head Danilo Delea said Friday on Day 2 of a virtual mining stakeholders’ event that implementing such policy would help enhance the execution of mining agreements and promote the holistic, harmonic, and methodical conduct of mining operations.

Deleña said the MGB drafted the policy due to “persistent disputes and issues among contractors and multiple operators, which compromise the conduct of mining operations within mining tenements.”

“That’s why there’s (a) need to limit the operator under a mining tenement,” he said.

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He said the MGB has proposed the policy to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu for review and approval.

If approved, the DENR would issue an administrative order institutionalizing the policy, Deleña said, adding that the MGB is hoping the department would issue the order soon.

The proposed policy covers all mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) and financial or technical assistance agreements (FTAAs), according to the MGB.

The bureau defines the MPSA as a mineral agreement in which the “government shares in the production of the contractor, whether in kind or in value, as the owner of the minerals,” while the contractor “shall provide the necessary financing, technology, management, and personnel for the mining project.”

On the other hand, the FTAA is an agreement that “may be entered into between a contractor and the government for the large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of gold, copper, nickel, chromite, lead, zinc and other minerals except for cement raw materials, marble, granite, sand and gravel, and construction aggregates.”

Deleña said the proposed policy requires mining tenement operators to meet certain qualifications.

He said under DENR Memorandum Order 99-10, an operator must have satisfactory environmental management and community relations in previous mineral resource use ventures and must possess technical competence and financial capability to conduct mining operations within the area covered by the MPSA or FTAA concerned.

The proposed policy likewise identified grounds for either suspending the mining operations of contractors authorized to undertake these or canceling MPSAs and FTAAs concerned, Deleña said.

“Failure of the operator to conduct mining operations in the contract area under the MPSA or FTAA for more than one year from authorization therein shall cause the withdrawal of the said authority,” he said.

Deleña said the proposed policy has a transitory provision covering existing multiple operators under either MPSAs or FTAAs.

He said under that provision, operators “shall continue to be authorized until (the) expiration of the term of their respective operating agreement, memorandum of agreement, and other similar forms of agreement.”

“The authorization of multiple operators shall cease upon expiration of the term of their respective agreements and the contractor shall elect which operator shall remain to conduct mining operation” under the mining agreement concerned, he added. (PNA)

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