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Climate and Environment

DENR order sets biodiversity protection measures in mining operations

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
DENR order sets biodiversity protection measures in mining operations
A huge lagoon of copper mine tailings are impounded in containment area that used to be an open pit mine of the Marcopper Mining Corporation in this town in central Marinduque island 30 March 1996. The waste pit said to contain about 30 million tons of copper mine waste spilled through a sealed underground tunnel into Boac river 24 March killing all aquatic life.
AFP/Romeo Gacad

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued an order providing measures to protect and conserve terrestrial and marine biodiversity in all stages of mining operations.

In a release Tuesday, the DENR said acting environment chief Jim Sampulna signed Administrative Order 2022-04 or the “Enhancing Biodiversity Conservation in Mining Operations.”

The order, which covers all stages of on-shore and off-shore mining operations, aims to minimize the negative impacts of extraction of mineral resources on biodiversity and ensure its conservation.

“With this new order, we believe that mining companies will be more mindful of their practices in utilizing the country’s natural and mineral resources,” he said.

The order requires mining contractors, permit holders, and permittees to include biodiversity measures in their respective environmental work program, environmental protection and enhancement program, and final mine rehabilitation and/or decommissioning plan.

Such measures include conducting biodiversity assessment, monitoring water quality parameters, conducting economic valuation of ecosystem services, using indigenous or native species as nurse trees and for the re-establishment of vegetation, and integrating biodiversity conservation measures in the environment awareness plan.

The order also mandates that progressive rehabilitation be undertaken at every stage of mining operations to restore mined-out areas and allow the regeneration of biodiversity to sustain ecosystem goods and services.

Mining companies are also ordered to integrate biodiversity-friendly enterprises, propagation of native plants, development of green parks, and promotion of agroforestry in their social development and management program.

“We have repeatedly mentioned in the past that mineral extracting operations can be done responsibly, that the rich biodiversity within the mine can be protected,” Sampulna said.

Alyansa Tigil Mina previously said that “responsible” mining has no legal definition so “there are no policies or parameters to measure.”

In December 2021, the Duterte administration lifted the nationwide ban on open-pit mining in a bid to bring more money into the Philippines after the economic slowdown brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also lifted a nine-year-old ban on new mining agreements in April of the same year.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of South COtabato recently voted to amend the province’s environmental code to allow open-pit mining, which is feared to endanger the environment and the residents.

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES

MINING

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