Environment Secretary Regina Lopez said Friday the government should have a higher revenue share in the mining industry.
“I feel that the government should get more. That’s my take. If you look at the numbers, the suffering goes to the community but the bulk goes to taxes. I don’t think that’s right. And if you look at our share in the taxes, we don’t get much at all,” Lopez said in her first briefing as environment chief under the Duterte administration.
The Mining Act imposes a 2-percent excise tax on mining companies operating under the mineral production sharing agreement. Companies under MPSA and operating in mineral reservation areas are also subject to an additional 5-percent royalty.
MPSAs are granted to mining firms which have at least 60-percent local ownership, while the financial or technical assistance agreement allows 100-percent foreign ownership of the projects. Projects under FTAA are subject to a 50-50 revenue sharing agreement.
The Mining Industry Coordinating Council approved a new mining revenue sharing scheme last year that aimed to increase the government’s share from the mining industry.
MICC approved a 10-percent tax on gross revenues or a 55-percent share of the adjusted net mining revenues, whichever was higher. Adjusted mining revenue refers to the difference between gross sales and costs.
“It’s our minerals. It comes out of our community, so why should they get more?” Lopez said.
Lopez also said President Rodrigo Duterte ordered an audit of all existing mine sites. “What is in my prerogative is to do an audit on all existing mine sites. There will be an assessment on all mining operations,” Lopez said.
“Any decision I make and that the agency makes, the main reason will be the common good. My challenge to the mining companies is to prove that the existence of their operation is good,” Lopez said.
Lopez said operations of mining companies found to be causing suffering would be stopped.
“Just to be clear, I am not anti mining. The mining sector has to shift its method because the poorest areas in the country are mining areas. They have to shift. They have to do with common good,” Lopez said.
Lopez said all mining companies were also required to secure International Standards Organization 14001 – Environmental Management Systems certification.
The Environment Department issued Administrative Order 2015-07 on April 30, 2015 which required all holders of mineral agreements and FTAAs engaged in metallic operations to secure the certification within a year.
Failure to secure the certification will lead to the suspension of the company’s environmental compliance certificate. Companies will also not be issued ore transport permit.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau director Leo Jasareno said only 30 percent of 42 operating companies were ISO 14001 compliant so far.
“ The deadline of securing was April 30, but majority or the 70 percent requested for an extension because some of them are in the process of securing the certification,” Jasareno said.