By Vincent Mariel P. Galang, Reporter

THE Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has approved the feasibility study for the Mabilo project in Camarines Norte, according to mining and exploration company RTG Mining.

“Following a review by the Technical Committee on Mining Project Feasibility Studies, the evaluation confirmed the project is technically and economically feasible after consideration of the environmental, social and fiscal costs prescribed under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and its Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations as amended,” RTG said in a disclosure to the Toronto Stock Exchange and Australian Securities Exchange dated July 17.

The feasibility study was conducted by Mt. Labo Exploration and Development Corp., one of the partners of RTG Mining for the project. RTG Mining has an indirect interest in the Mabilo project through Mr. Labo.

The mine site has a near-surface deposit and has the potential for directly shipping ore. This is a proposed open-pit mining and processing project based in the joint venture. It has a mining life of 10 years as of Jan. 1, 2016.

MGB Director Wilfredo G. Moncano confirmed that the feasibility study was approved, but noted that Mt. Labo is still covered by an exploration permit, not a mineral production sharing agreement.

“Since there is still a moratorium in the processing of new MPSA (Mineral Production Sharing Agreement) under EO (Executive Order) 79, Mt. Labo cannot yet proceed to development and extraction. It has to wait for the lifting of the moratorium in EO 79 which could happen if package 2 of the Trabaho Bill will be approved by Congress,” Mr. Moncano told BusinessWorld in a text message.

EO 79, issued in June 2012, imposed a moratorium on new mining permits.

While Republic Act No. 10963, which went into effect in January last year, doubled the excise tax on mineral products to four percent, the Finance department said this did not satisfy EO 79’s requirement for the lifting of the moratorium on new permits. The Department of Finance has been pushing for an overhaul of the mining industry’s fiscal regime, which should also cover royalty, windfall profit and other taxes and fees, as well as incentives.