Published February 16, 2017, 10:01 PM By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The country’s both large scale and small scale miners affected by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) crusade against the mining sector may soon have to explore options how to make the government liable for breaching contracts and ruining their reputations.
Dante Bravo, president of Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc. (FNI), the second largest nickel producer in the country and the largest single lateritic mine exporter in the world, said the move of Environment Secretary Lopez to close and suspend mining operations as well as cancel contracts could easily cost the state “several billion dollars.”
“Under the law, there is an investment guarantee (in mining contracts) so this amounts either to an expropriation. With the cancelling and all that, just take over this mine or say requisition investment. Either way, at the end of the day, Congress will have to pass a law to pay for this damage or for the return of investment for all the mining companies affected,” Bravo said in an interview with reporters on Wednesday.
“Eventually it will be collected through taxes. It’s going to be the Filipino people who will shoulder it,” he added.
Neither Platinum Group Metals Corporation (PGMC) or any of the companies associated with FNI group is among the DENR’s list of 75 mining companies whose Mineral Production Sharing Contracts will be cancelled. PGMC, however, is one of the mining operations that Lopez wants to shutdown.
Bravo pointed out that once the DENR’s closure, suspension, and cancellation orders are implemented, miners would be forced to go after the government for “full reimbursement” of their investments.
“You have to consider the loss of wealth. You have to consider the actual investment directly poured in by the company. You also have to consider other damage. Damage in reputation, all that. It cannot be just a simple calculation,” Bravo further said. “We did not violate (environmental standards) but we are being labelled as irresponsible. We’re being labelled as violators… these are all attacks against our integrity, against our reputation,” he added.
Nelia Halcon, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) executive vice president, on the other hand, said COMP members are still hoping that Lopez won’t get reappointed amid all the issues surrounding her nationwide audit on the mining sector. “We believe in the reasonableness of the CA (Commission on Appointments),” Halcon also said on Wednesday.