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Companies to challenge in court PNoy's new mining rules means BUSINESS

MANILA - Companies will challenge President Benigno Aquino III’s new mining policy in court, the head of the industry’s lobby said on Wednesday.

During the Mining Conference 2012, Benjamin Philip Romualdez, president of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, said the companies will question Section 9 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Executive Order No. 79.

“Under Section 9, mining companies will have to renegotiate the terms of the mining permit extension,” Romuladez said, adding that this violates Section 32 of the Republic Act No. 7942 or the Mining Act of 1995.

Section 9 provides that 25-year mining tenements that would expire may be renewed by the qualified tenement holder but subject to new terms and conditions pursuant to laws prevailing at the time of renewal.

The same provision of the IRR states that mines covered by expiring contracts may be declared as mineral reservations.

Section 32 of RA 7942, however, states that mineral agreements shall have a term not exceeding 25 years to start from the date of execution thereof, and renewable for another term not exceeding 25 years under the same terms and conditions thereof, without prejudice to charges mutually agreed upon by the parties.

Vice President Jejomar Binay said he will personally discuss the matter with the President, adding that the IRR should be reviewed.

“I was already informed by the mining industry of their position, and in my opinion, this should be reviewed and studied thoroughly,” Binay said.

During his opening speech at the conference, Romualdez said the industry will not meet investment targets because of the extended moratorium on new mining projects brought about by the absence of a new rule on revenue-sharing.

"This moratorium has caused an outflow in foreign direct investments in our sector beginning in 2011 to the tune of over P10 billion,” he said.

"The projected $16 billion of investments that were supposed to occur during this administration will not happen. The $2 billion that we as a country were expecting in additional foreign direct investments this year from the minerals sector will not happen,” he added.