Philippines Pushes to End Mining Lawsuits to Pave Way for Sale

·1 min read
FILE PHOTO: Gold dust bound with mercury is processed by hand to separate it from other elements before cooking at high temperatures on March 22, 2017 in Paracale, Philippines. (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Gold dust bound with mercury is processed by hand to separate it from other elements before cooking at high temperatures on March 22, 2017 in Paracale, Philippines. (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)

By Cecilia Yap

The Philippines is forming a government task force to resolve legal cases involving its mining assets, trying to push forward with their sale, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said.

Lawsuits have hampered the government’s efforts to privatize the assets, Dominguez said in a statement on Sunday. The new inter-agency team seeking to untangle the legal issues will include representatives from the finance and environment departments.

Among the mining assets under litigation include the nickel mines of Nonoc Mining and Industrial Corp. in Surigao del Norte, the copper-gold project of Maricalum Mining Corp. in Negros Occidental and the gold-copper mines of North Davao Mining. The finance department said assets of these companies were foreclosed by the government and eventually auctioned off, but the winners didn’t fulfill their obligations, resulting in litigation.

San Miguel Corp.’s major shareholder, Top Frontier Holdings Inc., counts the Nonoc mine in its assets. Manila Standard in July 2018 quoted San Miguel President Ramon Ang as saying that his group remains keen on a plan for a $1.5 billion nickel-processing plant near the mine.

Meanwhile, Basay Mining Corp.’s copper mines in Negros Oriental and a nickel mine previously ran by Marinduque Mining and Industrial Corp. in Western Samar aren’t operating because of legal concerns involving their disposal.

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