To ensure that the country would not be shortchanged in the exportation of its mineral ores, Senator Richard J. Gordon wants to amend the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 to require all mineral ore exportations to undergo screening for its contents first before they are shipped out of the country.
Gordon filed Senate Bill No. 1634, or An Act Providing for the Mandatory Domestic Processing of All Mineral Ores Before Exportation and a Certification Showing Presence or Lack of Rare Earth Elements, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 7942 Otherwise Known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and for Other Purposes.
“Rare earth metals - some more expensive than gold - are present in the mineral raw materials we export without our knowledge. Before minerals, ores, and others are exported to other countries, there must first be a required inspection by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to determine whether more valuable and more expensive elements are present, i.e., vanadium, cobalt, scandium and /or other rare earth elements,” the senator noted.
“We must know what we are selling to avoid being shortchanged. The principle of Caveat Venditor (Let the seller beware) must be emphasized, Hence this bill provides for the mandatory domestic processing of all mineral ores,” he explained.
The proposed legislation was filed in line with one of the recommendations made by the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers & Investigations (Blue Ribbon), which Gordon chairs, in the committee report it submitted after conducting an inquiry into the reported destructive mining operations or illegal excavations in Zambales.
In the proposed legislation, the following sections of RA No. 7942 have been amended to read as follows:
Section 3(y). Mineral processing means the milling, beneficiation or upgrading of ores or minerals and rocks or by similar means to convert the same into marketable products, AND/OR THE PROCESS OF SEPARATING COMMERCIALLY VALUABLE MINERALS FROM THEIR MINERAL ORES;
Section 53. Ore Transport Permit. A permit specifying the origin AND DESTINATION and quantity of non-processed mineral ores or minerals shall be required for their transport. Transport permits shall be issued by the mines regional director who has jurisdiction over the area where the ores were extracted. In the case of mineral ores or minerals being transported from the small-scale mining areas to the custom mills or processing plants, the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) concerned shall formulate their own policies to govern such transport of ores produced by small-scale miners. The absence of a permit shall be considered as prima facie evidence of illegal mining and shall be sufficient cause for the Government to confiscate the ores or minerals being transported, the tools and equipment utilized, and the vehicle containing the same. Ore samples not exceeding two metric tons (2 m.t.) to be used exclusively for assay or pilot test purposes shall be exempted from such requirement; and
Section 55. Minerals Processing and Minerals Processing Permit ANY MINERAL ORES EXTRACTED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT SHALL BE PROCESSED WITHIN THE COUNTRY. NO PERSON GRANTED WITH PERMIT FOR PURPOSES OF MINING OPERATION SHALL BE ALLOWED TO EXPORT THE UNPROCESSED MINERAL ORES TO OTHER COUNTRY FOR PURPOSES OF TRADING MINERAL PRODUCTS WITHOUT A CERTIFICATION OF COMPLIANCE SHOWING PRESENCE OR LACK OF RARE EARTH ELEMENTS OR OTHER VALUABLE MINERALS. ANY PERSON EXPORTING THE UNPROCESSED MINERAL ORES WITHOUT THE AFOREMENTIONED CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE SHALL, UPON CONVICTION, BE IMPRISONED FROM SIX (6) YEARS AND ONE (1) DAY TO TWELVE (12) YEARS AND PAY THE FINE AMOUNTING TO TWICE THE VALUE OF THE SEIZED MINERAL ORES. IN ADDITION, THE CARGO CONTAINING THE UNPROCESSED MINERAL ORES SHALL BE CONFISCATED IN FAVOR OF THE STATE. IN THE CASE OF ASSOCIATIONS, PARTNERSHIPS, OR CORPORATIONS, THE PRESIDENT AND EACH OF THE DIRECTORS IN SHALL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACTS COMMITTED BY SUCH ASSOCIATION, PARTNERSHIP, OR CORPORATION.
No person shall engage in the processing of minerals without first securing a minerals processing permit from the Secretary. Minerals processing permit shall be for a period of five (5) years renewable for like periods but not to exceed a total term of twenty-five (25) years. In the case of mineral ores or minerals produced by the small-scale miners, the processing thereof as well as the licensing of their custom mills or processing plants shall continue to be governed by the provisions of Republic Act No. 7076.
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