Fri, Dec 01, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet steps up work on Mining Act changes

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Members of an environmental coalition hold up placards that read “Revoke Asia Cement’s mining permit” at a protest in Hualien County.

Photo: Wang Chun-chih, Taipei Times

The Cabinet yesterday promised to present a draft amendment to the Mining Act (礦業法) next week, amid protests by environmental and Aboriginal groups over its delay.

Following the death of environmentalist and documentary filmmaker Chi Po-lin (齊柏林) in June, calls for the government to revise the act have surged.

The Cabinet in September promised to finalize and submit a draft amendment to the Legislative Yuan in October, but failed to do so.

Environmental and Aboriginal groups yesterday called a press conference condemning the delay, with the government approving a 20-year extension to Asia Cement Corp’s mining rights in Hualien County’s Sincheng Township (新城) and turning a blind eye to a local protest against the mining operation since Thursday last week.

Lawyer Hsieh Meng-yu (謝孟羽) said that environmental groups in March proposed a draft amendment that would scrap a clause in the Mining Act that allows companies to renew their mining rights indefinitely, maintain the environmental impact assessment mechanism and safeguard Aboriginal rights.

The Ministry of the Economic Affairs on July 3 announced a draft amendment that is similar to the environmental groups’ proposal, but it has not yet been approved by the Cabinet, despite several rounds of hearings and negotiations between the government, industries and environmental groups, Hsieh said, calling for speedy legislative action.

Lowkin Yudaw, a Truku leading a roadblock protest against Asia Cement, said the protest would end yesterday, but they would relaunch it and barricade all roads connected to the quarry if the government does not respond to the issue.

“The Legislative Yuan will not wait anymore if the Executive Yuan still does not submit the amendment,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said.

The legislature will proceed to other proposed amendments submitted by lawmakers to complete the legislation before the end of the year, Gao said.

DPP Legislator Su Chih-feng (蘇治芬) said the Legislative Yuan will schedule a review of the amendment to the Mining Act immediately after it is submitted.

Premier William Lai (賴清德) instructed the Cabinet to review and approve the ministry’s amendment by Thursday next week and forward it to the Legislative Yuan.

The amendment should be formulated in line with the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民族基本法), which stipulates that governments or businesses should obtain the consent of local Aboriginal communities about any proposed development and share development benefits with them.

The amendment should also comply with the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法) and subject all quarries to evaluation.

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