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November 30, 2006

Governor Eripe John M. Amante
Office of the Governor
Butuan City, Agusan del Norte
This refers to your request for an opinion regarding the proper interpretation of
the phrase "50,000 nickel-cobalt ore" as appearing in the Small Scale Mining Permits
(SSMP) and the Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC).
The query, it appears, stemmed from the letter of the lawyer of SR Metals, Inc.,
San R Construction Corporation, and Galeo Equipment Corporation, the three rms
granted by your of ce SSMP for them to be able to extract nickel-cobalt ore within your
province, informing your of ce of the intention of the said rms to extract more from
their approved mine sites claiming that they have yet to meet the nickel-cobalt ore
quota allowed them under their SSMP and ECC.
It also appears that under the SSMP issued by your of ce, the permit-holder or
"permitee" is allowed to —
. . . extract and remove 50,000 mt per annum, authorized under Republic
Act No. 7942 (sic) and its implementing rules and regulations, under related laws .
. . (emphasis supplied)


Upon the other hand, the ECC issued by the Environmental Management Bureau
to the permitees provide, in part, as follows:
That this Certificate is valid only for the operation of a small-scale
nickel-cobalt mining project employing shallow open case mining method . . .
That the volume of extraction shall not exceed an annual production
capacity of 50,000 metric tons of nickel-cobalt ore . . . (stress ours)

You now seek advice from this Department to guide your of ce, which, you claim,
is in-charge of the processing and issuance of SSMP since the lawyer, in a letter dated
November 7, 2006 avers that:
It is very clear from the above-quoted ECC that my clients are entitled to
50,000 metric tons of nickel-cobalt ore. My clients wish to inform you that they
have not exhausted their limit of 50,000 metric tons of nickel-cobalt ore. The
reason for this is that what they have extracted only contains a specific amount
or percentage of nickel-cobalt ore. The extraction process is such that the nickelcobalt ore is mixed with other unwanted rocks and minerals, known as gangue.
Gangue is defined in Encyclopedia Britannica as unwanted rocks and minerals.
So, any other minerals, rocks or substances other than nickel, iron and cobalt are
considered as gangue.
The only way to determine the amount of nickel, iron and cobalt which my
clients have actually mined is through a scientific process in a laboratory. In the
laboratory, the chemist tests the whole extracted mass and then issues a
Certificate of Analysis. The Certification of Analysis shows that amount of nickel,
iron and cobalt in the mass which my client consider as ore.
CD Technologies Asia, Inc. © 2016

which shall be the implementing agency of the Department. in the Certificate of Analysis.752.381 metric tons.446. 25. — The Board shall be composed of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' representative as Chairman. Moreover.000 metric tons of nickelore. as the case may be. My clients are therefore informing you that they shall continue their mining operations until they have exhausted their limit of 50. designated as their legal advisers (id.A. The Department shall provide the staff support to the Board.A. we decide to rule on the issue not only because of the separate request of the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government (see. subject to review by the Secretary: (a) Declare and segregate existing gold-rush areas for smallscale mining. of Justice Op. conflicts or litigations over conflicting claims within a people's small-scale mining area.848 metric tons of mass comprises of 0. in line with settled precedents.For your convenience. © 2016 cdasiaonline. and shall exercise the following powers and functions. are. (b) Reserve future gold and other mining areas for small-scale mining. 54. — There is hereby created under the direct supervision and control of the Secretary a provincial/city mining regulatory board.484. 24. No. So. (c) Award contracts to small-scale miners. 7076 (People's Small-scale Mining Act of 1991).14% is iron (Annex "B-4") and 0. Water denominated as H2O comprises 34. and (f) Perform such other functions as may be necessary to achieve the goals and objectives of this Act. directly involved in the implementation of R. In Annex "B"." (emphasis added) DEcSaI Although. herein called the Board. an area that is declared a small mining area. one (1) big-scale mining representative. No. No. IaHDcT The representatives from the private sector shall be nominated by their respective organizations and appointed by the Department regional director. DILG Secretary dated November 20. No. as the case may be. This is Annex "B-3".. my clients were able to extract 49. s. (e) Settle disputes. indeed. . and those affecting local governments since their provincial/city legal of cers or prosecutors. and the representative of the governor or city mayor.107% is Cobalt (Annex "B-5"). This is indicated as Annex "B-1". 7076 which reads: SEC. No. R. SEC. a copy of a Certificate of Analysis is attached herein as Annex "B".46% of the mass. as members. current series). citing opinions).000 metric tone so of mass.94% nickel or 299. Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Board. (d) Formulate and implement rules and regulations related to small-scale mining. Inc. This is Annex "B-2". the Secretary of Justice does not render opinion on questions involving substantive rights of private parties (Sec. the requested opinion of the Secretary of Justice would indeed be CD Technologies Asia. The remaining 31. the law applicable herein (see. water and any other minerals are considered as gangue and not ore. 1983.752. 42. Composition of the Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Board. 7942) as expressly stated in Sections 24 and 25 of R. by law.A. and the representative from a non-government organization who shall come from an environmental group. one (1) small-scale mining representative. 33. Of the 31. 2006) but more because of the importance of the issue raised and the fact that your of ce is.

com . No. GR No. but also to "extract and dispose of mineral ores (found therein) for commercial purposes" without speci c limitation as to the nature of the mineral extracted or the quantity thereof. and confers upon the contractor the right to mine within the contract area: Provided. extract and dispose of mineral ores for commercial purposes. their meaning must be determined from the language employed and the statute must be taken to mean exactly what it says (Baranda v. but the entire Filipino nation. © 2016 cdasiaonline. . citing cases) cDEICH Equally elementary is the rule that when the words and phrases of a statute are clear and unequivocal. renewable subject to verification by the Board for the like periods as long as the contractor complies with the conditions set forth in this Act. 7076) pertinently provides: SEC. present and future. It does not mention any annual production quota or limitation. while Section 13 of the law imposes certain duties and obligations CD Technologies Asia. 12. . and decided for the greater good of the greatest number. Court of Appeals. Terms and Conditions of the Contract. citing cases). Any mining activity that relies heavily on manual labor without use of explosives or heavy mining equipment falls under said de nition. in this case. No. December 1. . (at p. JUSTICE FOR ALL. 466. Victor Ramos. 13. Gustilo . to whom the mineral wealth really belong. . As stressed in Aisporna vs. On the contrary. or. Definitions. — A people's small-scale mining contract entitles the small-scale mining contractor the right to the mine.A. That the holder of a small-scale mining contract shall have the following duties and obligations: . . This Court has therefore weighed carefully the rights and interests of all concerned. the following terms shall be defined as follows: (b) "Small-scale mining" refers to mining activities which rely heavily on manual labor using simple implements and methods and do not use explosives or heavy mining equipment. — For purposes of this Act. 165 SCRA 757. 2004: Verily. xxx xxx xxx SEC. 7076 is clear and categorical. Basic is the rule in statutory interpretation that legislative intent must be ascertained from a consideration of the statute as a whole. JUSTICE FOR THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE. .A. — A contract shall have a term of two (2) years. As held in La Bugal B'laan Tribal Association Inc. speci cally. the mineral wealth and natural resources of this country are meant to benefit not merely a select group of people living in the areas locally affected by mining activities. SEC. are entitled not only to the right to mines. the permit holders or permitees. Moreover.needed in view of the far-reaching impact of our mineral wealth and natural resources on the larger community of the Filipino people. clauses and phrases should not be studied as detached and isolated expressions. not just for the here and now. The de nition of "small-scale mining" under R. 770. 3. 113 SCRA 459: . Rights Under a People's Small-scale Mining Contract. not just for some. Section 12 thereof is explicit that the contractor. but the whole and every part of the statute must be construed in fixing the meaning of any of its parts and in order to produce harmonious whole. 127882. . The particular words. . v. . The People's Small-scale Mining Act of 1991 (R. Inc.

Ramirez vs. that would be amending — not interpreting the law (see. 7942 does not directly govern small-scale mining activities. citing cases). anything that is not in the law cannot be interpreted as included in the law. 7076 are observed and complied with. While repeal by implication is not favored and will not be declared unless the legislative intent is manifest (Velunta vs. EITcaH Applying the foregoing.A. hence. the permitees can still continue with their mining operation to exhaust the limit granted under the SSMP and the ECC. Musñgi. It is. that the limitation imposed under the presidential issuance is still valid and binding. that both PD No. 458. 7076. Court of Appeals. Maceren. 157 SCRA 147. 1899 has become immaterial as long as the authority of the rms involved under the SSMP and the ECC are valid and binding and the limitations and conditions imposed by R. the latest legislative expression prevails and the prior law yields to the extent of the con ict (see. citing cases). however. at the outset. (ad) "Mineral resource" means any concentration of minerals/rocks with potential economic value. It must be stressed. Chief.A. The same provision also states that: (z) "Mine wastes and tailings" shall mean soil and rock materials from surface or underground mining and milling operations with no economic value to the generator of the same. 7076. among others. . argumentatively. 79 SCRA 450. and geothermal energy. are a persuasive authority which may be applied in small-scale mining where the provisions of the law or laws applicable are wanting. "ore". as stated in the law shall "not (exceed) that recommended by the (EMB) director taking into account the "quantity of mineral deposits". 155 SCRA 135. amended — albeit impliedly — by R. which provides for the extent to the mining area. natural gas. Inc. Juan vs. can and may be looked into. 1899 for the simple reason that Section 1 of the PD must be deemed to have been repealed or. we are also aware that when an irreconcilable con ict exists between a prior law and an subsequent one covering the same eld of operation. People vs. No. While RA No. otherwise known as the "Philippine Mining Act of 1995". SAHIDc Consequently. Additionally. © 2016 cdasiaonline. petroleum. clearly defines "ore" as follows: (ak) "Ore" means a naturally occurring substance or material from which a mineral or element can be mined and/or processed for profit. Section 3 of Republic Act No. 1899 and R. in view of R. speci cally those that deal with mining in general. Moreover. 140. 153. No. We cannot accept the limitation imposed under Presidential Decree No. No. 7076 are silent on the meaning of the term "ore". silent on the extent of the mining's annual quota production.A. may be said to CD Technologies Asia. xxx xxx xxx (ac) "Mineral land" means any area where mineral resources are found. at least. 71 SCRA 231). liquid. nothing therein refers directly or otherwise to production quota limitation. (aa) "Minerals" refers to all naturally occurring inorganic substance in solid. it cannot be denied that its relevant provisions. more particularly "nickel-cobalt ore". Upon the other hand. No. even Section 10 thereof. No. 7942. the annual production limit provided for under PD. a related law. does not limit production but only the mining area and depth of the tunnel or adit which. Thus.upon the contractor or permitee. Philippine Constabulary. radioactive materials.A. or any intermediate state excluding energy materials such as coal. gas. also.

even if we are to construe that the term "ore" as used in the law refers to the substance or material in its ordinary or common and general understanding. (SGD. GONZALEZ Secretary CD Technologies Asia. © 2016 the only such naturally occurring substance from which nickel and cobalt may be extracted. the fact that both the SSMP and the ECC issued explicitly provided that said authorities or permits cover only nickel-cobalt ore is conclusive that all other materials/minerals not constituting either of the two minerals mentioned in the SSMP and ECC cannot be said to be covered thereby. excluding such materials as soil and other materials which are of no economic value to the .) RAUL M. Please be guided accordingly. Inc. Moreover.