Last March 20, 2017, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office No. V (MGB RO-V) conducted a public consultation at Casa Blanca Hotel consistent with the instruction of the DENR Secretary in Memorandum dated February 28, 2017 to conduct a public consultation on the proposed Department Administrative Order (DAO) requiring Mining Contractors and Permit Holders with Operations under Care and Maintenance to Establish the Final Mine Rehabilitation and Decommissioning Fund.

The public consultation was participated by all mining contractors and permit holders in the Bicol Region, namely: Filminera Resources Corporation and  Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corporation in Aroroy, Masbate; Ibalong Resources and Development Corporation in Palanog, Camalig, Albay; Johson Gold Mining Corporation in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte; Mt. Labo Exploration and Development Corporation in Labo, Camarines Norte; UBS Marketing Corporation in Lamba, Legazpi City; Magellan Development Corporation in Aroroy, Masbate and Orophil Stonecraft Inc. in Baao, Camarines Sur.

The public consultation focused on the need to revisit Section 71 of R.A.7942, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations which defined the establishment of a Final Mine Rehabilitation and Decommissioning Fund (FMRDF) to operating Contractors and Permit Holders. The consultation also highlighted the proposed amendments.

The proposed DAO will have the subject: “Amendments to the Consolidated Administrative Order for the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 7942, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995”.

Simply stated, in the explanatory note of the said Memorandum, however, it is clear that between an “operating mine” and a “mine under a care and maintenance status”, it is the latter that is closer to the probability of facing mine closure. As such, the latter will need the establishment of the FMRDF more than the former. Without the FMRDF duly established, the State is facing the spectre of having another round of legacy mines under the regime of the Mining Act. At the moment, the mining industry has a considerable number of Contractors who are in care and maintenance status for the last 10 years or more and having no established FMRDF that can ensure the rehabilitation of their mining areas in case they suddenly decide to terminate operations.

The feedbacks generated by the nationwide public consultation would lay the strong basis for policy reengineering necessary for the much improved service delivery towards the promotion of responsible mining in the country.