THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced the cancellation of five Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) in the region.

At least two were cancelled in Baay Licuan, Abra from Jabel Corp. (MPSA No. 141-99 / 144 -99 CAR ), three in in Benguet: Cresent Mining and Development Corporation, (MPSA No. 057 – 96), Itogon Suyoc Resources Inc (MPSA No. 152-00) both a Mankayan based company and Macawiwili Gold and Development Mining Company (MPSA No. 278-2009) in Itogon town.

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez earlier announced the closure of 23 mining companies and the suspension of Manakyan based Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation and Itogon based Benguet Corporation, worrying thousands of surface employees and underground workers of the mining towns.

The five MPSA’s from the Cordillera are part of 75 pacts from mining companies situated in watersheds all over the country with 37 in Mindanao, 11 in the Visayas, and 27 in Luzon.

An MPSA is an agreement assuring government shares whatever production is made over a mineral rich area, this allows firms to mine enabling operation of mining companies.

The DENR defines and MPSA as “A mineral agreement wherein Government shares in the production of the Contractor, whether in kind or in value, as owner of the minerals, and the Contractor gets the rest. In return, the Contractor provides the necessary financing, technology, management and personnel for the mining project.”

An MPSA may last up to 25 years and can be renewed.

Sherwin De Vera of the Ilocos Network for the Environment (Defend Ilocos) lauded the decision as “unprecedented in the history of DENR” and noted it as an “excellent follow through” after the closure order of 23 mining sites in the country.

“I think the DENR is now charting its proper course, putting the environment and the people’s welfare over mining revenue and profit. We hope that Sec. Lopez continue to hold her ground,” De Vera said.

Meanwhile Philex Mining Corporation in a statement said “the MPSA of Philex’s wholly-owned subsidiary Silangan Mindanao Mining Company, Inc. (Silangan Mining) covering the Silangan project was included in the list even as Silangan Mining has not, to date, received any cancellation order or any notice of a cancellation proceeding from the DENR or any other government agency.

Philex operates Tuba and Itogon and managed to be on the safe side, eluding suspension and closure from the environment agency.

“While the DENR, as regulator, has the right, if not also the duty, to enforce faithfully all mining laws, and to act against erring mining companies, it must do so within the bounds of the Constitutionally-mandated due process procedure,” the Philex statement said.

Four tenements of another Philex subsidiary, Philex Gold Philippines, Inc. (PGPI) have also been included in the list for MPSA cancellation, even if all these MPSAs have been validly issued and, contrary to the assertions in the press conference, are also not located in proclaimed watershed forest reserves.

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