After enduring years of intense scrutiny under the Duterte administration, the mining sector is now at the receiving end of a series of surprisingly positive policy decisions and considerations.

The government is now considering lifting the ban on open-pit mining method more than two weeks since President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the moratorium on new mining projects.  

In a text exchange, when asked if the government may soon lift the ban on open-pit mine, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Wilfredo Moncano said, “it is being considered.”

MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano (Photo credit:

The ban on open-pit mining method for copper, gold, silver and/or complex ores is contained in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017-10, which was signed by former Environment Secretary and late Regina Paz Lopez.

Based on DAO 2017-10, open-pit mines “have ended up as perpetual liabilities [for the government], causing adverse impacts to the environment, particularly due to the generation of acidic and/or heavy metal-laden water, erosion of mine waste dumps and/or vulnerability of tailings dams to geological hazards”.

“The records attest that most of the mining disasters in the country were due to tailings spills associated with open pit mining,” it added. 

However, at the time, groups like Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) maintained that in the Philippines, most ore deposits for copper and nickel are near the surface of the earth and the only way

to extract them is through open pit mining.

COMP also assured that their members, composed of the biggest mining companies in the Philippines, adhere to highest standards in all the methods they employ in extracting minerals in their respective areas.

To date, there are three big-ticket open pit projects on hold due to this order, namely Tampakan Copper Project, King-king Copper Gold Project, and Silangan Copper and Gold Project.

COMP Chairman Gerald Brimo earlier said these projects alone could bring the mining sector’s total contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) up to 1.5 percent from the current less than 1 percent.

For instance, the Tampakan project is the largest stalled mining venture in the country and will require an investment of US$5.9 billion.  The project has been put on hold since 2010 after the local government unit (LGU) of South Cotabato banned open-pit mining in the province.

  Meanwhile, Moncano said the government already began drafting the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for EO 130 which amended the infamous EO 79 of the Aquino Administration, which was issued in 2012 to ban the approval of new mining permits until new legislation rationalizing revenue-sharing scheme is enacted.

Under EO 130, the President directed authorities to still rationalize the existing revenue-sharing scheme but sans the ban on new mining projects.

This, while strictly implement mining safety and environmental policies. EO 130 also orders the review of existing mineral deals for possible renegotiation.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the government is considering imposing more requirements on new mining applications and incorporate this in the draft IRR of EO 130.

Moncano, in an earlier text exchange, said the DENR is now “linking up with Congress” about the new fiscal regime for mining.

He said the government would rather that the new fiscal regime for mining be just inserted to the package 2 of the government’s tax reform program, which is the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP).

This is despite the several bills already filed and pending in House and Senate regarding the proposed new mining tax.

Source: Manila Bulletin (