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Mining industry backs Cimatu as Environment chief

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ( third from left) shakes hands with Nickel Asia Corp. vice president for operations Augusto Villaliuna during a visit to the mine site of NAC subsidiary Taganito Mining Corp. in Surigao del Norte. Also in photo are NAC senior vice president for security Raymundo Ferrer (second from left) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau assistant director  Danilo Uykieng (center). File photo

Mining industry backs Cimatu as Environment chief

Louise Maureen Simeon (Philstar.com) - September 5, 2017 - 7:00am
MANILA, Philippines — Unlike with his predecessor, the country’s mining industry is in full support of the confirmation of Secretary Roy Cimatu, saying the sector is already seeing a slow positive change for the local mineral sector this year.
 
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said it is in favor of the confirmation of Cimatu, who is set to face the Commission on Appointments on Monday, September 11.
 
"Yes, we would like to see him as DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) secretary. We see him as a very sober, intelligent person who can appreciate what responsible mining can contribute," COMP executive director Ronald Recidoro said during the opening day of the Mining Conference Philippines 2017 on Tuesday.
 
While the industry still has some doubt on where the sector will be taken, Recidoro admitted that the situation has "vastly improved" since Gina Lopez, whose appointment the commission rejected, helmed the DENR. Environmentalists and progressive groups criticized the commission for allegedly siding with business interests.
 
 
"Cimatu is a more sober secretary, he’s studying the matter and we are keen to participate. We are really reaching out and we want to meet him halfway, and even beyond halfway if needed," Recidoro said.

'The industry is listening'

He added that the industry has been at the center of a policy storm since last year. With Lopez out of the picture, the mining sector can now move toward showing what "responsible mining" really is.
 
"We want to show that the industry is listening and we plan to redefine what responsible mining is. We want to show that responsible miners do not just comply with the law, we go beyond that through aggressive self-policing, improving current operation standards, social development and environmental protection," Recidoro said.
 
This year’s mining conference aims to discuss how stakeholders want to take the industry forward and response to criticisms hurled upon the sector.
 
"It is more dynamic as this is an offshoot of the rejection of Lopez. We’re seeing a slow pivot from negative to positive and we hope to see clarity in the areas of the open-pit ban, audits and pending legislations," he said.
 
The chamber also said a legal definition of responsible mining can help the highly challenged mineral sector move forward as this could set the direction in monitoring strict compliance among mining firms.
 
"It will give the industry and the public a set of metrics by which to measure mining’s impacts and performance in relation to the national (and local) economy, the communities that host mining projects, and the environment," Recidoro said.
 
However, he said any definition should not be too rigid, considering how standards are always changing, and what may be considered "responsible mining" now could be outdated in coming years.
 
Meanwhile, the Palawan Council on Sustainable Development maintained that responsible mining in the country is attainable.
 
Currently, Palawan employs two tools in sustaining natural resources in the province, including the WAVES (Wealth Accounting and the
Valuation of Ecosystem Services) project, which will help the Philippines measure the country’s natural resources and evaluate how these can be utilized equitably and sustainably.
 
Another is the Sustainable Management Online Tool, which is now being used by four mining companies namely Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp., Coral Bay Nickel Corp. Berong Nickel Corp. and Citinickel Mines and Development Corp.

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