By Madelaine B. Miraflor
All mining policy decisions imposed by former Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez are now being reviewed by Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), including the administrative order banning companies to extract minerals through the open pit method.
Larry Heradez, Officer-in-Charge Chief of Legal Service Division at MGB, said the agency, an attached bureau to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) tasked to regulate the mining sector, is now reviewing all the policy issuance signed by Lopez to see whether they should be retained, amended, or repealed.
Some of the controversial orders imposed by Lopez include the ban on open pit mining in the country, cancellations of several mineral product sharing agreements (MPSAs), the memorandum on additional mine trust fund to allow ore stockpiles transport, and the nationwide audit on all metallic and non-metallic operations.
“The general principle is that all that has been issued by Secretary Lopez are valid issuance unless, if after the review, the present (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu will be advised to amend or repeal them,” Heradez told reporters on the sidelines of the ongoing MGB Stakeholders’ Forum in Quezon City on Thursday.
“All the issues are being reviewed. The goal is to determine if all the issuance made are proper, appropriate, and relevant. After the review, the new secretary can start amending them,” he added.
Heradez, however, said there is no specific timeline when such review should be finished.
On the ban of open-pit mine, Heradez said that while it is “considered as valid issuance,” the implementation of this order should be “balanced out” and “further studied” because this might compromise the potential in utilizing the country’s mineral resources.
It was in April when Lopez issued an administrative order banning all prospective open-pit mines in the country.
When asked if MGB is going to propose the lifting of the ban, Heradez only said the MGB has “a ready position on that but we are yet to elevate it” to Cimatu.
Right now, MGB is waiting for mining contractors who have not commenced commercial operations but have approved Declarations of Mining Projects Feasibility for open pit mining to submit until October their planned mining methods.
Some of the companies in the country that employ the open-pit mining method are Semirara, Oceana Gold, and Atlas Mining.
Philex Mining Corp. is also planning to employ the open-pit mining method in its US$2-billion Silangan mine in Surigao del Norte province, which is considered as one of the largest mining investments in the Philippines.