THE FUTURE OF PHL MINING March 24, 2013 There are indications that our government is beginning to see the light and has started to move in the right direction as far as its mining policy is concerned. Just recently, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through its Mines and Geosciences Bureau, lifted the moratorium on accepting applications for exploration permits (EPs) and financial or technical assistance agreements (FTAAs). DENR likewise allowed Philex Mining to resume operations and granted Sagittarius Mines’s environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for its Tampakan copper-gold project. The Philippines is just one of many countries that have realized the tremendous potential of the mining sector. In fact, at the recent Mines and Money Conference and Exhibition in Hong Kong, over 300 investment opportunities were showcased, two of which are from the Philippines - Intex Resources Philippines, Inc. and TVI Resource Development Phils., Inc. (TVIRD). TVIRD is behind the Canatuan copper-zinc project in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte as well as the Balabag gold project in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, while Intex is the main proponent of the Mindoro nickel project in Oriental and Occidental Mindoro. Observers have noted that despite the challenges facing the local mining industry, Intex and TVIRD have consistently demonstrated unwavering trust in the Philippines and, like the rest of the industry, have expressed hopes that the Aquino administration would show more consistency in its policy on minerals development. Intex president and CEO Jon Steen Petersen remains hopeful that the government would give the Mindoro Nickel Project the opportunity to bring progress and development to the people of Mindoro. In his presentation at the Mines and Money conference, Petersen said the project is offering the country’s first nickel refinery, thus providing added value from processing laterite ores – very much in tune with Executive Order No. 79, which encourages value-adding activities and downstream industries. He noted that the project fits in with EO 79’s climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives as the nickel processing facility would feature a modern, carbon-neutral operation that would provide all its energy needs from carbon-free sources and largely independent from fossil fuels. In addition to producing 53,000 tons nickel metal briquettes per year, Mindoro Nickel is designed to produce 150,000 tons per annum (tpa) of ammonium sulphate fertilizer – more than half of the country’s current requirements – as well as 16,000 tpa of Co-salts for the emerging rechargeable car batteries industry. Proponents say that the presence of scandium and other rare Earth elements (REE) is contributing to the project’s attractiveness. The Mindoro Nickel Project’s ECC remains in limbo after it was withheld by the DENR in response to unfounded allegations ranging from potential risks vis-à-vis Mindoro’s food security and flooding problems to fraud in securing consent of the of Mangyan indigenous peoples, among others.  The issue was elevated to the Office of the Executive Secretary who in turn tossed back the issue to the DENR for independent investigation. The DENR was given a non-extendable period of 45 days to submit to the Office of the Executive Secretary the investigation result, but the supposed 45-day period has lapsed more than three years ago, and yet Intex has received no word from the DENR on the status of the ECC. It should be recalled that in 2001, the mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) of the Mindoro Nickel Project was also cancelled by the government, but after waiting for four years it was found out that the cancellation was without basis and the Office of the Executive Secretary directed the DENR to reinstate the MPSA. Fortunately, public support for Intex and the nickel project is rising in host municipalities in the light of the company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives that include, among others, the provision of clean drinking water systems that now benefit 12,000 people; of free basic health care and ambulance services for 1,500 host residents; of education programs and scholarship grants to 10,500 children; and of agricultural support and a variety of capacity-building initiatives for Mangyan IPs. Like Tampakan, Mindoro Nickel is hampered by a mining moratorium imposed by the two Mindoro provinces. But the ECC for Tampakan has been issued and Intex is hopeful that the same wouldl happen soon for the Mindoro Nickel project. After all, it is absurd that local government ordinances should be made to prevail over national laws and policies.
Intex Resources Philippines Inc. 2014