Philippines pushes to end mining lawsuits to pave way for sale

Among the mining assets under litigation is the copper-gold project of Maricalum Mining Corp. in Negros Occidental. (Reference image of a rural area in Negros Occidental by Amandogallaza, Wikimedia Commons)

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.

Lawsuits have hampered the government’s efforts to privatize the assets

Among the mining assets under litigation are 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.

(By Cecilia Yap)

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