By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now more than three months behind its target schedule as to when it intends to announce the list of mining firms that should be suspended.
Ever since DENR Secretary Gina Lopez officially took over the agency in July, she’s been eager to shut down mining companies that she believes are not compliant with environmental standards.
In the same month, she called for a nationwide crackdown on mining firms, which has ended in August.
By September, instead of closing down mining firms as initially planned, the DENR just issued show-cause orders to 20 companies that were recommended for suspension by the agency’s Mining Audit Team.
Mining operators were only given seven days to respond to DENR’s concerns and now that all of them have already complied with this, the DENR has still yet to come up with the final audit result, which, according to Lopez last week, should already be out this week.
Industry sources now doubt the agency’s capability to ever come up with a final and credible results this year amid all these delays.
Lopez told Business Bulletin last week that DENR is now on the process of finalizing the end results of the mining audit.
“We’re finalizing it (the results) and the companies that have replied to our show cause orders. Maybe next (this) week, we can already give the names,” Lopez said in a phone interview.
Lopez said that while going through with the mining audit report, she found out that many companies didn’t allocate enough budget for rehabilitation.
“Many companies don’t have enough funds for rehabilitation. That is a mortal sin,” Lopez said.
Under the Philippine Mining Act, a Mine Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) shall be deposited as a trust fund in a government depository bank and shall be used for physical and social rehabilitation of areas and communities affeced by mining activities and for research on the social, technical and preventive aspects of rehabilitation.
To recall, as much as 21 out of the country’s 41 metallic mines have been recommended for suspension as the initial result of the government’s nationwide audit on the mining industry.
Companies that have been recommended for suspension includes Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company, Filminera Resources Corp., OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., Benguet Corp., Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation; Sinosteel Philippines H.Y. Mining Corp.; Agata Mining Ventures, Inc.; Hinatuan Mining Corporation; Libjo Mining Corporation; AAMPHIL Natural Resources Exploration and Development Corp.; Krominco, Inc.; Carrascal Nickel Corp.; Strongbuilt Mining Development Corp.; Oriental Synergy Mining Corp.; Wellex Mining Corp.; Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp.; CTP Construction and Mining Corp.; and Adnama Mining Resources, Inc.; Century Peak Corp.; and SR Metals, Inc.
Prior to the final results, there are also other suspended mines namely Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. (CMDC), EMIR Mineral Resources Corp., Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration Corp., Claver Mineral Development Corp., Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp., and Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., LNL Archipelago Minerals, Inc., and Berong Nickel.
A Reuters report showed on Friday that Manila’s mining crackdown drove nickel to a then one-year high of $11,030 a tonne in August. Last month the prices briefly pierced $12,000 a tonne for the first time since July 2015 in a broad-based rally in industrial metals.
Nickel was trading at $11,150 on Friday, but analysts say it could top $12,000 again if the Philippines suspends more mines.
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