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Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has successfully cleansed half of all pending mining applications filed in its various regional offices nationwide.

This, after MGB Acting Director Leo Jasareno reported to him that the bureau was able to act on a total of 1,150 mining applications, or 53% of the 2,180 pending mining applications nationwide as of end of February 2011.

In the light of this positive result, Paje expressed optimism that the MGB will be able to complete its task by end of this year.
“We are treating this initial report of MGB a step forward in our drive to reform not only the mining industry but also our ranks as we try to eliminate all opportunities for corruption,” Paje said. He added that investors welcome the reform as it is expected to level the playing field as a result of the disqualification of non-performers and less serious investors.

It will be recalled, Paje ordered MGB’s regional offices until February 20 to cleanse 50% of all their pending and inactive mining applications, and until December 2011 for the remaining 50%.

Of the total, Paje said the bureau was able to deny or dispprove some 903 mining applications and favorably endorsed some 247 mining applications, bringing the total to 1,150 mining applications acted upon by the bureau.

Aside from pending mining applications, exploration periods of mining contracts that have already expired for five years or more, and mining contracts whose three-year work programs have not been implemented for two consecutive years are also subject of final action, according to Paje.

Further, Paje said, the suspension in the acceptance of new mining applications is also part of the reforms in the mining sector to enhance the management of the country’s natural resources and that the implementation of the ‘use it or lose it policy’ means cancellation of mining applications that were unable to comply with all the requirements set by the government including mining tenements that have remained inactive and unproductive through the years.

In cleansing their respective offices of pending mining applications, however, Paje reminded his field officials to strictly observe the “three-letter-policy” in exacting compliance by applicants with all the requirements, with a minimum of 30 days between these letter- notices. Among these requirements include the acquisition of Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) from the rightful indigenous peoples concerned, proof of consultation with the LGU’s Sanggunian, and the completion of publication, posting and radio announcement within one year from the date of acceptance of the mining application.