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More mining firms to undergo review over alleged violations

Louise Maureen Simeon (Philstar.com) - July 26, 2016 - 3:40pm
MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has bared a new list of mining companies that would undergo extensive review following complaints from the indigenous people of Mindanao.
 
Lopez had a dialogue with the Lumads of Mindanao Sunday afternoon to hear their sentiments.
 
"I met with them and they wanted to stop large-scale mining in their provinces. And they were very explicit to the names [of the companies]," she said.
 
In a phone interview with The STAR, Lopez said the Lumads revealed eight mining firms that are allegedly committing environmental and social violations.
 
One of which is Canadian-owned TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. in Zamboanga del Norte which is being reviewed over alleged "human rights violation causing demolition and forced evacuation."
 
In defense, TVI Director Kaycee Crisostomo said the issue is old news dating back in 2012 and clarified that the firm is not driving out people.
 
"It was the provincial government that formed a multi-agency task force dismantling the illegal small-scale mining operations and not TVI," he said in a separate interview.
 
Other companies mentioned are St. Augustine Gold & Copper Ltd. in Compostela Valley because of militarization and San Roque Metals Inc. in Agusan del Norte due to siltation and land grabbing complaints.
 
"The Greenstone Resources Corp. also because chemical waste goes to Lake Mainit resulting [in] fish kill, as well as Silangan Mining in Surigao del Norte due to open pit mining," Lopez said.
 
Other companies included are Nickel Asia affiliate Taganito Mining and Chinese company Shenzhou Mining Corp., both in Surigao del Norte and the Tampakan project of Sagittarius Mines Inc. in South Cotabato.
 
Non-government organization Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) echoed the sentiments of the Lumads saying mining in the southern part of the country has worsened and has affected several communities.
 
"The situation is Mindanao is very much different, especially in CARAGA. It is where the most number of mining operations and applications are located," ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera told The STAR in an interview.
 
"It is also where the most number of damages can be found and these are not properly monitored. There are a lot of documentations and evidence, and yet the area has the slowest implementation of resolutions," he added.
 
Earlier, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has imposed stricter audit standards for mining companies as part of efforts to put a stop to irresponsible mining.
 
"The comprehensive review will focus on the companies’ compliance with the requirements of the Mining Act of 1995, Environmental Compliance Certificate, Forestry Law, and other laws pertaining to mining. We want to see whether a specific violation will entail suspension of operations," MGB director Leo Jasareno said.
 
He added that the new round of audit would look beyond regulatory requirements such as the social and economic impact of the mining operations nationwide.
 
Just recently, Lopez issued her first memorandum order on the official audit of all operating mines and the moratorium on the approval of new mining projects.
 
In Memorandum Order No. 2016-01, she ordered the audit of all operating and suspended mines while the moratorium covers the acceptance, processing and approval of applications and projects for all metallic and non-metallic minerals.
 
The order takes effect immediately and "shall remain in force and in effect until formally terminated."
 
Lopez reiterated that technical audit alone is not enough, as social, environmental, and health aspects are being considered as well.
 
Among the considerations include affected rice fields and bodies of water and the health of the communities, Lopez said.
 
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to release the result of the mining audit of large and small-scale companies next month.

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