Dribbling Out In Philippines
Richard Mills, Chairman
was certainly the most newsworthy event of the year for the mining industry.
Reuters and Bloomberg were among a crowd of 60 reporters and cameramen from
media sources around the world.
The event was a press release to
announce the release of 3 exploration permits to a Canadian company with a
long and conscientious history in Philippines called Mindoro Resources (and
a related entity called Egerton Gold). The important event was an
achievement of the government and meant to emphasize to the world’s mining
community that Philippines is open for business. It is certainly clear there
has been a significant policy-shift from an uneasy tolerance to outright
promotion of mining.
Despite all the excitement
though, the 3 permits awarded are a few drops from a bucket of 1300 that
sources say are outstanding in the Mines & Geosciences Bureau. Permit
delays are said to be at a critical stage and mining managers are worried.
In a rare show of solidarity,
virtually all of the major international chambers of commerce signed an open
letter to President Gloria Arroyo to express their concerns. Chief among
these is the new screening procedures recently introduced by the Secretary
of Mines, Angelo Reyes, that add more steps to the review process.
While putting on a public face
of displeasure, most experienced managers privately seem to understand the
government’s situation. Everyone knows they sincerely desire a vibrant
mining industry but they are naturally terrified by the prospect of future
environmental failures like those recently experienced by Lafayette Mining.
That “small spill” by a once favoured company was a terrible blow to the
credibility of foreigners in Philippines. Almost every manager active in
Philippines express extreme displeasure by the affair and say it “should
never have happened.
”Let’s hope the foreigners
do a bit better in the future and everyone can get to work to make mining
the premier industry it once was in Philippines.
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