Idle government mining assets will soon be up for bidding and eventually sold to generate revenues needed to help the country recover from the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu said the bidding of idle government mining assets will start once the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has completed updating their essential mining information.
Cimatu said the MGB is ready for the inventory of the idle assets.
MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano said the bureau will be updating the mineral resources and mineral reserves data of identified state-owned mining assets to determine the viability of future mining operations.
“Some of these mining assets stopped operating in the 1980s, which means these hold mining information that is around 40 years old,” Moncano explained.
“Data are necessary to be collated and evaluated to see if the reports of former geologists and mining engineers are compliant with the Philippine Mineral Reporting Code that is in place sometime in 2010 only,” Moncano added.
He cited idle mining assets such as the Basay Mining Corp. in Negros Oriental, which stopped operations in 1983, and the Marinduque Mining and Industrial Corp. (MMIC Bagacay Mine) in Samar, which was foreclosed by the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Philippine National Bank in 1984.
Moncano disclosed that the data to be evaluated include the volume of mineral resources and reserves, technical basis of estimates, and methodology of estimation, among others.
A mineral resource refers to the concentration of materials of economic interest found in the Earth’s crust, while a mineral reserve is the economically mineable portion of a mineral resource.
According to Moncano, the updating of the baseline information will also improve the “packaging” of the mining assets to help boost sales.
“The MGB will allot some funds from its budget for the updating of data. The updating of the mining information will most likely advance first on those assets without pending legal cases like the Basay Mining Corp. and MMIC Bagacay Mine,” he said.
Moncano, however, said some assets under the Privatization and Management Office (PMO) of the Department of Finance (DOF) have already sufficient and updated data, which can be up for bidding soon.
“Once investors will bid on these mining assets, operations will resume. However, documentary requirements to allow for the development and commercial operations to resume will have to be submitted by the winning bidder to MGB,” he said.
DOF’s PMO and the Philippine Mining Development Corp. are responsible for the sale and disposal of such state mining assets through public bidding.
The DOF has been working with the MGB in the preparation for the sale since its announcement last year to privatize state-owned mining assets.
PMO-identified mining assets for disposal also include Pacific Nickel Philippines Inc. in Surigao del Norte, North Davao Mining Property in Davao del Norte, Maricalum Mining Corp. in Negros Occidental and Marcopper Mining Corp. in Marinduque.