Digging for profits: Who owns PH mines?


Name of mining firm: Oriental Synergy Mining Corp.
Location: Loreto and San Jose, Dinagat Islands
Mining area: 648 hectares
Metals extracted/mine products: Nickel
Period: 1992-2017



Incorporation date: Nov. 24, 2005

Tan, Vicky P.
Agua, Liza Fe
Tan, Richard
Chen Xing
Lin Yi Ru
Chen Yi Hong
Nie Rui

Chairperson of the Board: Tan, Vicky P.



Current assets: P36.65 million (2019)
Current liabilities: P151.69 million (2019)
Sales: P128.37 million (2019)
Net income: P8.56 million (2019)



According to the 2016 Mine Audit Report, below is a summary of Oriental Synergy’s violations:

Violation of the applicable rules of DAO 2000-98 or the Mine Safety and Health Standards, and provisions of DAO 2010-21

1. As a Class B mine, its Safety and Health Office is not headed by a full time safety engineer duly registered with MGB Regional Office 13. It has only one full-time temporary safety inspector;
2. The Contractor failed to perform its duties and responsibilities as follows:

a. Conduct of departmental meetings;
b. Provision of Safety and Health Incentive System/Program;
c. Putting up of Safety and Health Regulations/Standard Operating Procedures;
d. Conduct of safety and health induction/orientation;
e. Conduct of medical examination for all employees;
f. No Safety and Health Protocol and Guidelines; and
g. Accomplishment of target planned inspections.

3. Putting up a system of reporting accidents/incidents and unsafe acts;

4. No Emergency Response and Preparedness Program (ERPP);

5. Provision of medical and dental services and facilities for employees;

6. Late submission of Annual Safety and Health Program (ASHP); and

7. Installation of sufficient safety warning signs at strategic places within the mine site and wharf/causeway as well as in the field office compound.

No tree-cutting permit

1. Failure to secure a Tree-Cutting Permit from the DENR prior to the development stage of mining operation (vegetation clearing and overburden stripping activities).

Violation of the terms and conditions of the MPSA

1. Contractor did not conform with laws and regulations regarding, among others, safety and health standards;

2. Contractor failed to give preference to available qualified citizens from the host and neighboring communities in the hiring of mine personnel; and

3. The Contractor had failed to perform mining operations with minimum damage to the environment and to subject mined out areas to progressive rehabilitation.

Violation of existing laws, policies, and rules and regulations under DAO 2010-21

1. Failure to rehabilitate disturbed areas progressively during the development/construction stage and operating period as provided for in Section 167 of DAO 2010-21

Violation of the terms and conditions of the issuance of ECC under Section 9 of PD 1586

1. Failure to implement good vegetation practices and sound soil management and stabilization as required under Condition 3 of the ECC;

Violation of Section 13 of RA 6969 and Section 41, Paragraphs 5, 6, and 8 of DAO 1992-29 and DAO 2013-22 of the IRR

1. Failure to train staff and personnel on hazardous waste management and emergency contingency plan.  

The full report and/or copy of the DENR order may be viewed here.



PCIJ sent a letter to the company on Feb. 16, 2022, and made follow-ups on Feb. 21, 2022 and March 2, 2022. We have not received a response as of this writing.



In February 2017, then Environment Secretary Gina Lopez ordered the closure of Oriental Synergy Mining Corp. and 22 other mines.

On Nov. 12, 2018, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources under Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered the permanent closure of Oriental Synergy Mining Corp. and Claver Mineral Development Council for non-compliance with environmental laws. The DENR also denied the application for a mineral production sharing agreement of another firm, Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp.



Municipality class of mining location: Loreto, Dinagat Islands (4th class)
Population: 9,309 (2015)
Poverty incidence rate: 36.6% (2015)
Human Development Index: No data available
Municipality class of mining location: San Jose, Dinagat Islands (4th class)
Population: 27,487 (2015)
Poverty incidence rate: 36.19% (2015)
Human Development Index: No data available



DENR’s closure orders questioned anew
Cimatu orders closure of two erring mining companies



General Information Sheet, 2020
Financial Statement, 2019
List of existing Mineral Production Sharing Agreements, Mining and Geosciences Bureau
Philippine Metallic Mineral Production, Mines and Geosciences Bureau
Poverty and socioeconomic indicators, Philippines Statistics Authority

Copy of full Mine Audit Reports by company, 2016
Copy of Notices of Issuance of an Order, 2017
Copy of Orders of Cancellation and/or Suspension, 2017

Acronyms used:

RA (Republic Act)
IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations)
PD (Presidential Decree)
DAO (Department Administrative Order)
MPSA (Mineral Production Sharing Agreement)
SDMP (Social Development and Management Plan) 

Disclaimer: The mine audit was conducted in 2016 after Regina “Gina” Paz Lopez assumed the post of environment secretary. The findings in the reports, which authorities sent to the mining firms in 2016, were likely addressed in the succeeding years following a review conducted by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council after the audit led by Lopez, who died in 2019. PCIJ has verified the reports and reached out to each company for comment. We suggest you also confirm findings included in the reports as some information may have changed over time.

The reports come from files that PCIJ has received in connection with various environmental investigations. We are releasing them in full, recognizing the public value of the files to mining communities, miners, policymakers, civil society, and researchers.
Note: The Human Development Index is a measure of how well a country has performed, not only in terms of real income growth, but also in terms of social indicators that measure people's ability to lead a long and healthy life, acquire knowledge and skills, and have access to the resources needed to afford a decent standard of living. An HDI value below 0.550 is considered low and below 0.399 is very low. The national average for the Philippines is 0.718 as of 2020.

This article was produced with the support of Internews' Earth Journalism Network.