Digging for profits: Who owns PH mines?


Name of mining firm: SinoSteel Philippines HY Mining Corp.
Location: Loreto, Dinagat Islands
Area: 972 hectares
Metals extracted/mine products: Nickel
Nickel production (2019): 131,796 dry metric tons (direct shipping ore) valued at P212,692,886
Period of operations: 1991-2041



Incorporation date: May 4, 2005

Orient Joyce Investment Ltd.
Zheng Zhenghao
Pan Wenliang
Huang Ningwen
Ty Tiao Hui
T-Mega Dynasty Holdings
Tang, Willie Lim
Dagdag, Aimee S. 
Dagdag, Daniel N. 

Chairperson of the Board: Pan Wenliang



Current assets: P107.77 million (2019)
Current liabilities: P17.13 million (2019)
Sales: P336.99 million (2019)
Net income: P13.37 million (2019)



According to the 2016 Mine Audit Report, below is a summary of SinoSteel’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.      Operating a Class D mine, the company has no part-time safety engineer. It has only one full-time safety inspector;

         2.      The Contractor failed to perform its duties and responsibilities as follows:

a. Conduct of departmental meetings;
b. Conduct of pep talk or tool box meetings;
c. Provision of Safety and Health Incentive;
d. Conduct of safety and health induction/orientation;
e. Conduct of medical examination for all employees; and
f. Accomplishment of target planned inspections.

         3.      There was no Emergency Response Team established;

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

         5.      Installation of sufficient safety warning signs and facilities for employees 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 operations (vegetation clearing and overburden stripping activities).

Violation of the terms and conditions of the MPSA

         1.      Contractor did not conform to 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

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

         1.      Failure to implement good vegetation practices and sound soil management as required under Condition 2 of the ECC;

         2.      Failure to conform with the provisions of RA 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990).      

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 March 2 and 24, 2022. We have not received a response as of this writing.



In February 2017, then Environment Secretary Gina Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mines, including SinoSteel. 

According to an October 2017 Interaksyon report, SinoSteel was among firms in the Caraga region that had filed appeals and motions for reconsideration, which allowed them to operate in the meantime.

No update on the status of the mining operations could be found. The results of the Mineral Industry Coordinating Council review have yet to be released as of writing.



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



Gina Lopez names 21 mining firms facing closure
15 mining firms in Caraga suspended by Lopez allowed to operate again



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.