The Philippines hike mining royalties and expand bans

After months of intense debate among mining companies, environmentalists, local groups and church leaders, the government of the Philippines has decided to increase royalties from mining companies.

According to the Asian Journal, the policy, contained in a new executive order signed by President Benigno Aquino, also includes increased environmental protections. As such, mining is now banned in protected areas and in tourism sites, including Palawan and Boracay.

Announced Monday by the Environment and Natural Resources Secretary, Ramon Paje, the new law says no new mining permits will be approved until the Parliament passes a bill backing the increase.

Authorities told the Asian Journal that the new mining rules are globally competitive and attractive to domestic and international investors:

Our belief (is) that it is already attractive because I think the attraction would be more on the volume and quality of our deposits. We are already at par with the other countries except for these royalties and excise tax. And if we increase it, for example to five to seven percent, that is still within the international standard and that is what they are paying if they are operating abroad," Paje said.

He added that existing contracts would be revised to ensure the companies are fulfilling their obligations.