Mining stakeholders optimistic on audit results

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Mining stakeholders maintained their positive outlook on the results of a government audit on the industry.

The release of the audit findings was originally slated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources yesterday but was moved to Thursday next week.

“It’s done but there is a process. We gave show cause orders to the companies, they answer then we validate and then decide. Next week it should be over,” Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said.

Large mining firms such as Pangilinan-led Philex Mining Corp., Global Ferronickel and Nickel Asia Corp. expect the results to be positive for the sector.

“No word yet from the audit team about the results. Our expectations on the results are high and positive. The audit was an opportunity for Philex to showcase the best practices that it is already doing, to show that we are compliant to current laws and rules and to international standards,” said Francis Ballesteros, Philex Public and Regulatory Affairs head.

“We haven’t heard anything which could be good or bad. It’s best to wait for the final release,” Nickel Asia Corp. said.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) is likewise hopeful that the findings would be fair and anchored on President Duterte’s promise of a clean government.

“That the audit was done with utmost objectivity and findings will be properly transmitted to companies to address gaps in their operations. We continue to abide by transparency, accountability and integrity in all that we do. We expect no less from the DENR,” COMP executive vice president Nelia Halcon said.

Non-government organization Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), on the other hand, expects at least a dozen mining projects to be be suspended particularly in the CARAGA region.

“The one-week delay is because DENR wants to be doubly sure of the legal basis for suspension as well as the audit procedure/methods so that its credibility is unquestionable,” ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera told The STAR.

“Our communities and local organizations who participated in the mining audits presented and submitted evidenced of negative environmental impacts, non-compliance with environmental laws and Mining Act provisions, absence of social acceptability from communities and even some local government units,” he said.

Meanwhile, UP National Institute of Geological Sciences director Carlo Arcilla urged Lopez to follow the law in applying justice, especially in sparing the innocent.

“I really hope this audit is just and thorough and that the erring practitioners are punished to the fullest extent of the law.

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