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DENR closes 21 mining firms

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered the closure of 21 mining firms and the suspension of seven other large-scale miners following a six-month industry-wide audit. Danny Jovica, file

DENR closes 21 mining firms

(The Philippine Star) - February 3, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered the closure of 21 mining firms and the suspension of seven other large-scale miners following a six-month industry-wide audit.

In a briefing yesterday, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said 21 of the country’s 41 mining firms would be closed down for breach of environmental standards.

“We have also decided to close down any mining operation in functional watersheds. The DENR has rightfully decided to take on social justice. I am not against mining but I am against suffering,” Lopez said.

“If there are businesses and foreigners that go and utilize the resources of the area for their benefit and the people suffer then that’s social injustice,” she added.

Among the 21 firms are Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines, Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., LNL Archipelago Minerals, Eramen Minerals Inc., AAMPhil Natural Resources Exploration and Development Corp., Krominco, Sinosteel Philippines HY Mining Corp., Oriental Synergy Mining, Wellex Mining, Libjo Mining, and Oriental Vision Mining Philippines.

“ I blame the DENR because it’s also their fault. They didn’t do anything for ecotourism,” Lopez said.

Other firms ordered shut down are located in Surigao del Norte—Adnama Mining Resources, Claver Mineral Development, Platinum Development Corp., CTP Construction and Mining, Carrascal Nickel Mining, Marcventures Mining and Development Corp., and Hinatuan Mining.

Also covered by the closure order areMt. Sinai Exploration Mining and Development, EMIR Mineral Resources, and TechIron Mineral Resources, all three are located in Samar.

The 21 firms have 15 days to appeal their case before the DENR and should their plea get rejected, they could elevate their case to President Duterte.

“They can accept the closure and just help DENR with eco-tourism. Or they can appeal but that appeal goes to the President. The closure becomes final when the President says so,” Lopez said.

In Davao City yesterday, President Duterte said he supported the actions of Lopez against the erring mining companies.

The DENR, meanwhile,  ordered the suspension of  Berong Nickel Corp. OceanaGold Philippines, Lepanto Consolidated Mining, Citinickel Mines and Development, Ore Asia Mining, Strong Built Mining Development Corp., and HInatuan Mining Corp.’s Manicani mine.

“There are also unresolved agricultural issues, leakage of mine tailings, environmental violation and siltations.  They need to fix their system and address the complaints of residents,” Lopez said.

Only 12 passed the audit.  These mining firms include Philex Mining Corp., Nickel Asia Corp.’s Rio Tuba Nickel Corp., Cagdianao Mining, Taganito Mining, Carmen Copper Corp., Greenstone Resources, Philsaga Mining, Apex Mining, Pacific Nickel Philippines, Agata Mining Ventures, Century Peak Metals Holdings, and SR Metals.

The audit focused on safety and health, mine environmental management, social development, mining tenement, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, hazardous waste and solid waste.

The audit team comprised of the DENR central and regional offices, the Mines Geosciences Bureau, Environmental Management Bureau, Biodiversity Management Bureau, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture and various civil society organizations.

Non-government organization Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) lauded the audit findings and called it a “logical conclusion.”

On the other hand, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) decried the mine audit results as seven of its members were among the firms that were ordered closed.

“Mining companies were invited by government to invest in the Philippines and signed contracts with them as partners in mineral resource development. By entering into these contracts, the government is bound to observe due process.  Sec. Lopez cannot just shut down mines without due process,” COMP chairman Artemio Disini said.

The Chamber also questioned the way the audit was conducted, noting the inclusion of anti-mining activists that tainted the process.

“What we question is the bias and partiality of the audit from the very start with Secretary Lopez’s early statements that she does not like mining and would like to see mines closed,” COMP executive vice president Nelia Halcon said.

“With the inclusion of anti-mining groups in the audit teams, you can see that the audit was compromised. The participation of these anti-mining activists immediately raises the question of whether or not the results are impartial,” she added.

When she assumed the post, Lopez ordered an industry-wide audit to look into the adequacy and efficiency of environmental protection measures taken by the mining companies, determine gaps in those measures and identify the appropriate penalties for violations of mining and environmental laws.

Lopez emphasized that 26 of the 41 large-scale mining companies are in Caraga region and the communities do not really benefit from the industry.

“The political setup there has supported mining. It’s been like that for many years and the people of Mindanao are not benefitting,” Lopez said.

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