The Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Philippines (ANZCHAM), the premier business organization supporting Australian and New Zealand trade and business relations with the Philippines is urging the government to exercise the rule of law in facilitating the entry and operations of mining investments into the Philippines.
Egerton Gold Philippines (Egerton Gold)—a mining development project in Lobo, Batangas—is being confronted with the possible reversal of an endorsement of the project by the Municipal Council of Lobo. ANZCHAM believes that such action will affect investor confidence and country’s ability to encourage more investors.
The mining development project, with MPSA 176-2002-IV and MPSA 177-2002-IV, were granted to Egerton Gold on November 21, 2002. The feasibility study and engineering design of the project started in 2013 at a cost of approximately Php 90 million to date. Egerton Gold then applied for a Declaration of Mining Project Feasibility in March of 2014.
The Municipal Council of Lobo issued an endorsement of the project on 20th April 2015 after 14 months of discussions, representations and presentations by the company and its engineering and environmental consultants, but has recently indicated that it will cancel its endorsement after being severely attacked and confronted by interest groups including the “Coalition for the preservation of the Verde Island Passage.”
“ANZCHAM is deeply concerned given that the company has complied with the requirements in the Mining Act, the administrative rules and regulations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in terms of environmental protection and legal compliance and has significantly consulted with the local community and the Municipal Council in compliance with the Department of Local Government (DILG) guidelines.” Tom Grealy, ANZCHAM President, said.
Mining, when developed in an environmentally and socially responsible way, has very significant potential value to the Philippines in contributing to longer-term, sustainable and inclusive economic growth as well as increased employment and poverty reduction, particularly in remote and less developed areas of the country where poverty is most prevalent.
“Mining can support poor rural areas through high quality jobs, as well as manual labor, training and education, local tax payments, and community development. The national government receives substantial royalty and tax payments,” Grealy underscored.
ANZCHAM believes that the government should continue to uphold national laws and allow pre-development activities to proceed. The Philippine Mining Act of 1995, being maintained in its present form, is a most progressive and also a world-leading regulatory framework for environmentally and socially responsible mining. By providing significant social and environmental safety nets, the law is considered to be a model legal framework for sustainable development and among the best in the world.
As the premier business organization supporting the development and growth of Australian, New Zealand (ANZ) businesses in the Philippines, ANZCHAM has a membership base of 315 member companies and individuals. It aims to enable inclusive business development and promote economic advancement to nurture the growth of Philippine economy and support entry and expansion of ANZ trade and investments into the Philippines.