THE House of Representatives approved a bill on third reading on Monday which if signed into law will ban mining completely within Mindoro.

House Bill No. 10611, or the proposed Mindoro Island Mining-Free Zone Act, will be in force over Mindoro Occidental and Mindoro Oriental provinces.

According to the bill, all valid and existing mining contracts, permits, and licenses in the provinces will remain valid until expiration, with no renewals allowed.

Small-scale mining operators will be required to rehabilitate and reforest their concessions to preserve watersheds.

Quarries will be restricted to five hectares, with no more than one quarry permit allowed per person or corporation.

Violators could serve six to 12 years in prison plus a fine of up to P10 million.

On Dec. 24, the House approved the bill on second reading. The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act will not apply within Mindoro Island once the measure is enacted. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson