DENR MGB initiates consultative meeting

DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna together with Environmental Management Bureau Director William P. Cuñado, MGB Director Wilfredo G. Moncano, and DENR Asec. Nonita S. Caguioa

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and its CALABARZON and MIMAROPA Regional Offices, met with mining industry partners during the Joint Consultative Meeting on Mining Concerns, March 8, at Park Inn by Radisson in Quezon City.

This hybrid activity, led by DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna, sought to tackle the prevailing issues and concerns that the sector is facing, especially on the mining priority projects (Phase 1 and 2).

In his inspirational message, Acting Secretary Sampulna reiterated the DENR’s commitment to bring the government nearer to the people, and fast track the resolution of all concerns raised during the series of consultative meetings being conducted by the MGB Regional Offices.

Acting Secretary Sampulna said that he directed the MGB to look into the possibility of facilitating the approval and renewal of mining permit applications at the regional office level.

The DENR Chief also warned of possible permit cancellations under “Use it or Lose it Policy” for contractors/permittees who have been inactive for more than a year. This is to ensure that those who secure mining tenements really intend to operate and develop their projects.

For his part, MGB Director Wilfredo G. Moncano laid out the government’s goal to triple the production value of the industry through the opening of new mines, approval of new exploration projects, and all other supporting activities that need to be done.

Director Moncano added that the MGB already submitted legislative proposals to increase the contribution of the mining sector to the economy, among which is the draft bill requiring mining companies to put up processing plants in the country.

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During the consultative meeting, it was clarified that protected areas, unless proclaimed, are open for mining applications or operations.

In the event that the applied area is included in the Strategic Agriculture and Fisheries Development Zones or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, there is a need to request for ground validation with the concerned government agencies to review the possibility of opening the said areas for mining.

The DENR also acknowledged that more needs to be learned when it comes to offshore mining activities, hence, its commitment to work with stakeholders to conduct research studies to create better policies in this regard.

Stakeholders were also assured that they can seek assistance from the Department of the Interior and Local Government Regional Offices for concerns related to coordination with local government units.

Meanwhile, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples expressed its willingness to assist mining companies in securing the necessary certifications, particularly on Free Prior Informed Consent processing.

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MGB CALABARZON Regional Director Dondi M. Sarmiento and MGB MIMAROPA Regional Director Edwin M. Mojares recognized how this consultative meeting can strengthen stakeholder engagement towards responsible mining, with mining companies demonstrating their commitment to follow regulatory requirements and compliances required for their operations.

This sentiment was echoed by DENR Assistant Secretary for Finance, Information Systems and Mining Concerns Nonita S. Caguioa as she assured stakeholders that the government is giving its utmost support to the industry, while enhancing national growth in a way that effectively safeguards the environment and protects the rights of the affected communities.