MGB sets rules on care, maintenance of mines

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued a memorandum order on Jan 10, 2020 specifying the guidelines for the care and maintenance program (CMP) of mining projects.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) policy ensures the integration of environmental protection and stakeholder involvement in every stage of the mining operations. This means that mining operations should provide measures for care and maintenance as integral components of mining operations.

All mining tenements, excluding those under Exploration Permit or the exploration stage, and permits issued by DENR-MGB covering quarrying resources are covered by the policy.

The government requires mining project contractors and permit holders to submit a Care and Maintenance Program (CMP) in cases of operational constraints (Voluntary Stoppage) and suspension (Involuntary Stoppage).

The CMP should identify safety and health hazards, environmental and social impacts, mitigating measures and the budget to implement the CMP.

DENR-MGB requires contractors and permit holders with existing mining operations to submit their CMP to the concerned MGB Regional Office within 30 calendar days after the effectivity of memorandum or January 10, 2020.

The MGB Regional Office (MGB RO) shall then evaluate and approve the submitted CMP within 15 calendar days from receipt of the CMP.  The MGB RO issues a certificate of approval.  If the office fails to act on the CMP within the prescribed days, it is considered approved.

The approved CMP forms part of the requirements for the approval of the Declaration of Mining Project Feasibility (DMPF) for new mining projects and applications for Industrial Sand and Gravel Permit (ISAGP), Mineral Processing Permit and Special Minerals Extraction Permit (SMEP).

The duration of the CMP during voluntary stoppage is 3 months. Meanwhile, for the involuntary stoppage, the contractor or permit holder shall implement the CMP until the suspension order issued by the government agency has been lifted.

In case of a voluntary stoppage, the contractor or permit holder shall notify the concerned MGB RO to implement the CMP.  In the event of a voluntary stoppage, the contractor/permit holder shall immediately implement the CMP upon the receipt of the suspension order.

During the implementation of the CMP, extraction and commercial disposition of mineral ore/ products will not be allowed.

The contractor and permit holder is required to continue implementing the approved Annual Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program, Annual Social Development and Management Program, and Annual Safety and Health Program including Emergency Response and Preparedness Program during the care and maintenance period.

Before the mining operation resumes operations, the contractor or permit holder must notify the MGB RO concerned in writing not less than 10 days before the intended date of resumption of operation with the report on the implementation of the CMP.

Upon resumption of operation, the contractor and permit holder shall immediately implement its approved Three-Year Development/Utilization Work Program.

Funds for the approved CMP shall be sourced from the first-year deposit of the Final Mine Rehabilitation and/or Decommissioning Fund (FMRDF).

Withdrawal of the funds for the implementation of the CMP shall be subject to approval by the MGB Regional Director concerned upon clearance from the Contingency Liability Rehabilitation Fund (CLRF)-Steering Committee Chairperson.

The contractor or permit holder shall regularly submit report on the implementation of the CMP to the MGB RO.  The MGB RO will monitor the CMP at least once a month or as the need arises.

The CMP will be reviewed or revised at a date not exceeding 2 years after it has been approved, and every after 2 years after that. Revision may also be made in the CMP when the need arises with the approval of the MGB RO.

All mining projects without CMP including those with pending applications for renewal are required to comply with the memorandum order.

Failure of the contractor/permit holder to comply with the policy shall be penalized as prescribed in the penal provision of Republic Act 7942.  (MGB RO-6)