Thursday, 14 May 2009
GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 May) -- Critics of large scale mining have gone to the House of Representatives in their move to eliminate full foreign ownership of mining ventures in the country.
Erwin B. Quinones, of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Centre-Kasama sa Kalikasan- Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK-FoE Phils) that was tasked to draft the bill, said it was shaped over six years of consultations with various sectors.
Sponsored by Representatives Risa H. Baraquiel (Akbayan) and Lorenzo R. Tanada lll (Quezon, 4th District), the bill -- titled “An Act to Regulate the Rational Exploration, Development and Utilization of Mineral Resources, and to Ensure the Equitable Sharing of Benefits for the State, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, and for Other Purposes” -- is supposedly intended to replace Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
Quinones said they are still looking for sponsors at the Senate.
The bill calls for the national government to have 10 percent of gross revenues aside from taxes, as a form of royalty fee.
The local government units, on the other hand, shall be entitled to a share of the net revenues paid directly to the provincial treasurer, taking into consideration the classification of the LGU as per vulnerability and human development index.
The bill proposes that indigenous people be given at least 10 percent of the gross revenue in royalty fees.
It is apparently is a far contrast from the current law.
Indigenous people are now receiving a royalty fee of at least one percent of gross revenues, while the government gets two percent excise tax from the gross revenue, said Constancio A. Paye, Jr., Central Mindanao director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
The alternative mining bill also proposes the removal of the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), which allows 100-percent ownership of mining ventures.
“Only Filipino citizens or corporations, 60% of whose equity is owned or controlled by Filipinos, are allowed to mine – to conduct development, utilization and processing of mineral resources in the Philippines ,” a primer prepared by the Alyansa Tigil Mina said.
Sagittarius Mines, Inc., which is based in nearby Tampakan, South Cotabato , has been granted an FTAA by the government. The mining company is largely owned by Swiss miner Xstrata Copper through a 62.5% interest, Australian junior exploration firm Indophil Resources NL (34.23%) and Filipino conglomerate Alsons Corp. (3.27%).
The also bill also aims to decrease the maximum areas and term for mining contractors.
The maximum contract area for mining operations shall be limited to 500 hectares and the maximum term is 15 years, including five years for rehabilitation, according to the bill.
Paye said that based on the existing mining act, firms are allowed 81,000 hectares during exploration and a maximum of 5,000 hectares during production stage but subject to increase depending on the need.
He added that firms can have 25 years for production and can be extended for another 25 years. (MindaNews)