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DENR mining permit issuance going digital to lure more investors

MANILA: The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is looking to shorten the processing of permits for the mining industry to entice more investors to do business in the Philippines.

Speaking during Friday’s mining conference in Makati City organized by think-tank Stratbase ADR, Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said they are now in the process of digitalizing the permitting process.

‘We are still in the work-in-progress stage. We hope we’ll be in the shortening of the permitting process. Right now we are believed to be at around six years in terms of permitting and some say it is longer than that. We are attempting to actually reach two to three years processing time,’ Loyzaga said, referring to the long processing time.

Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs Secretary Frederick Go agreed with Loyzaga on the need to improve the ease of doing business in the mining sector, especially in the processing of the Environmental Compliance Certificate

Apart from the digitalization, Go said the permitting process could be shortened by doing simultaneous processing, rather than doing it sequentially.

‘In the bureaucratic process when A is required for B, and B is required for C, and C is required for D, and so on, that could really stretch the whole process. With the realization that a lot of them are actually unnecessary to be sequential, I think that will really be a lightbulb moment that can radically improve the speed of processing permits,’ Go said.

During her opening speech, Loyzaga mentioned that several countries including the United States, China, Australia, United Kingdom and the European Union, have expressed intent to collaborate with the Philippines in terms of mining.

Loyzaga said the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. aims to revitalize the mining sector and leverage its status as one of the world’s most mineral-rich nations to drive economic growth.

Citing data from the Department of Finance, she said the country gener
ated PHP160 billion in the production of copper, gold, and nickel in 2023.

Oceana Gold recently turned over to the DENR the government share of more than PHP1 billion as part of its Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) agreement, Loyzaga said.

The FTAA is essentially a production-sharing agreement between the Philippine government and a large-scale mining company.

‘The social development and management plan or SDMP for 2023 exceeded PHP1.35 billion of direct expenditures of mining operations to benefit their host and neighboring communities. The contributions from the mining sector are bound to significantly increase in the years to come,’ Loyzaga said.

For the period 2020-2022, the DENR issued 34 Exploration Permits (EPs) and Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs), increasing the efficiency of processing time by 29 percent.

This includes the MPSA of a gold mine and an aggregates project in the north, and a nickel mine in the Visayas as well as EPs for nickel and gold exploration in
other parts of Luzon.

“We hope to further streamline the process moving forward starting with the full digitalization of EP and MPSA processes this year,” she added.

Source: Philippines News Agency