As part of her commitment to keep the country's watersheds off-limits to destructive mining, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez announced on Tuesday that 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) for mining sites that are within watershed areas face cancellation.
Lopez said show cause orders have been issued to mining companies to allow them to explain why their MPSAs should not be cancelled for threatening watersheds, which are a major source of drinking and recreational water for many communities.
The said MPSA holders have 7 days from receipt of the show cause orders to reply, she said.
Last week, Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mining operations found to have committed serious environmental violations during the industry-wide audit conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) since July last year. Fifteen of these mines are operating within watershed areas.
Of the 75 MPSAs issued show cause orders, 27 are in Luzon, 11 in Visayas and 37 in Mindanao.
Lopez was quick to clarify that the impending cancellation would not result in job losses because "these are non-operating mines."
Lopez said her decision is backed by the provisions of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, which gives the DENR the power to regulate and make decisions pertaining to watersheds.
"This is to show you that whatever dictum I make on watersheds, this is in fact protected by the Mining Act of 1995 which says that we must enhance national growth in a way that effectively safeguards the environment and protects the right of the affected communities," Lopez explained.
The law, she added, provides that the DENR "shall adhere to a sustainable development principle which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs with the view of improving the total quality of life both now and in the future."
The environment chief also cited the Forestry Code, which mandates that surface mined areas should be brought back to its natural state.
Citing studies by scientists, Lopez said that rehabilitating mined out areas in watersheds to near its original state is almost impossible, thus placing watersheds in danger and the water in the area at risk.
A watershed is an area of land that drains rainwater to streams, rivers, lakes and other reservoirs. Water that flows through these tributaries is used to irrigate farms, supply drinking water to the population and other industries.
Lopez insisted that there should be no mining in watershed areas as such destructive activity would adversely affect the quality of life of people living in those areas.
She noted that water resources dry up when a watershed is adversely affected and mining-related deforestation leads to soil erosion, flooding, and the siltation of water sources.
Mining activities in watersheds also results in lower yield for farmers and decreased catch for fishermen, she added.
“You kill the watershed, you kill life. You kill the river, you kill agriculture, you kill the drinking water," Lopez said.
She asked: "Is it worth it? Who is benefitting from all of these? Who is taking the risk should we continue to allow mining in watersheds?"
An MPSA is an agreement between the government and a contractor which grants the latter the exclusive right to conduct mining operations within the contract area. In return, the government is given a share in the production of the contractor.
The MPSA has a term of 25 years from effective date, and may be renewed thereafter for another term not exceeding 25 years.
The MPSA holders issued show cause orders are the following:
DAVAO / COMPOSTELLA VALLEY Watersheds
• Kingking Mining Corp. (Assignment from Nationwide Dev’t Corp. (NADECOR) and Benguet Corp.)
• Alsons Development and Investment Co., Inc.
• King Eagle Exploration and Mining Corp.
• Dabawenyo Minerals Corp.
• Phil Youbang Mining International Corporation (Assignment from Dabawenyo Minerals Corp.)
• Sinophil Mining and Trading Corporation
• Core Mining Corporation
• Oro-East Mining Company, Inc.
• Napnapan Mineral Resources, Inc.
DINAGAT ISLAND AND SURIGAO Watersheds
• BrightGreen Resources Corporation (formerly Carac-an Development Corp.)
• Pacific Nickel Phils., Inc. (Assignment from PhilnicoMining and Industrial Corp.)
• Consolidated Ores Phils., Inc.
• Philex Gold Philippines, Inc. (Reconveyance from Silangan Mindanao Mining Co., Inc. )
• Silangan Mindanao Mining Co., Inc. (Assignment from Philex Gold Philippines, Inc.)
• Phigold Metallic Ore, Inc. (Assignment from Heirs of Emeterio L. Collado)
• East Coast Mineral Resources Co., Inc.
• Kepha Mining Exploration Company
• North Dinagat Mineral Resources Corporation
• Das-agan Mining Corporation
• Philex Gold Philippines , Inc. and Rosario Mining Development Company, Rosario Consolidated Mining Corporation and Sta. Irene Mining Corporation as represented by Philex Gold Philippines, Inc.,
• Philex Gold Philippines, Inc.
• Siennalynn Gold Mining Corp.
• Solid North Mineral Corporation (Assignment from Kenell Mining Corp.)
• TVI Resources Development Phils., Inc. (Assignment from Zamboanga Mineral Corp.)
• Atro Mining-Vitali, Inc., (Assignment from Hard Rock Mineral Trading, Inc.)
• 168 Ferrum Pacific Mining Corp.
• Geotechniques and Mines, Inc.
• Roldan B. Dalman
• Peng Cheng Metallic Resources Corporation
• Maharlika Dragon Mining Corporation
• Czarstone Mining Corporation
• Vulcan Industrial and Mining Corp.
• Philex Gold Philippines, Inc.
• Vulcan Industrial and Mining Corp.
• Selenga Mining Corporation (Assignment from Colet Mining and Dev’t. Corp.)
• Shangfil Mining and Trading Corporation (Assignment from A3 UNA Mining Corp.)
• San Juanico Resources Corporation
• Three (3) MPSAs of Mineral Treasures Mining Corporation
• Mina Tierra Gracia, Inc.
• Westchinamin Corporation (Assignment from Ramon G. Perlas)
• Central Palawan Mining and Industrial Corp.
• Palawan Star Mining Ventures, Inc.
• Pyramid Hill Mining and Industrial Corp.
• Two (2) MPSAs of Macroasia Corporation in Brooke’s Point, Palawan
• Lebach Mining Coporation
• Two (2) MPSAs of Jabel Corp. in Baay-Licuan, Abra
• GRCO Isulan Mining Corp. (Assignment from Fadicasu Mining Corp.)
• South Davao Development Co., Inc. (formerly KalinanTimber Corporation)
• South Davao Development Co., Inc.
• Hard Rock Mineral Trading, Inc.
• Crescent Mining and Development Corp.
• Itogon Suyoc Resources, Inc. (Assignment from ItogonSuyoc Mines, Inc.)
• Macawiwili Gold Mining and Dev’t Company, Inc.
• Two (2) MPSAs of Egerton Gold Phils., Inc.
• Alumina Mining Philippines, Inc.
• Bauxite Resources, Inc.
• Nickelace, Inc. (Assignment from Cambayas Mining Corporation)
• United Philippine and China Mining Corporation
• Industries Development Corp.
• Indophil Resources, Phil., Inc.
• Parvisgold, Inc.
• Plethora Mineral Corporation (Assignment from San Christo Minerals Exploration Corp.)
• Pio B. Castillo, Jr.
• Asia Alstron Mining and Dev’t. Corp (Assignment from Lamberto N. Lim)
• Phil Astron Mining Corp. (Assignment from Crisnorman S. Linconada)
• Three (3) MPSAs of Aglubang Mining Corp. (Sablayan, Occ. Mindoro and Victoria, Or. Mindoro)
• Alagag Mining Coporation
• Altai Philippines Mining Corporation