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Cimatu says four mining firms failed MICC audit
Four mining companies failed the latest review by the inter-agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu said on August 2.
Manila Standard reported that Cimatu did not disclose the identities of the four mining companies, saying the findings of MICC and the result of the previous audit conducted by former Environment secretary Regina Lopez would be “harmonized” first before they were released to the public.
“The four mines that did not pass the review are not yet aware of the results. I don’t even know the four who did not pass the review,” Cimatu said.
“As far as the suspension and closure orders decided by the previous secretary, we will harmonize the reports. We are going back to the DENR now and meet my staff on mining and discuss the results of the findings,” he added.
Meanwhile, the DENR will also decide whether to permanently shut the mines that failed the review, Wilfredo Moncano, head of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, told Reuters.
Issuing its final decision, the government panel confirmed 23 of 27 mines passed a review for compliance with state rules, reducing uncertainty about potential supply disruptions at the world’s No. 2 nickel ore supplier.
“The DENR will meet to decide whether to pursue the closure or give a second chance” to the four mines that failed the review, Moncano added.
The MICC teams presented their findings to Cimatu in a meeting held at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Cimatu said the findings would be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte as soon as possible.
“I have to present the results of the review to the president before releasing all these things,” Cimatu said.
Cimatu said the MICC teams conducted the review of the mining operations based on five aspects, including legal, environmental, social, and assistance to the community. He said it was a good review and it could be a good template for future reviews.
The mining council is tasked to conduct a review every two years.
Cimatu said the government’s stand on the prohibition of open-pit mining stayed, because it was one of the policies of the present administration.
“As what the President said in his SONA [State of the Nation Address], unless there will be a new way of extracting ores that will not destroy the environment,” Cimatu said.
He said this could be a combination of extracting minerals not using open-pit mining, and at the same time improving the livelihood of communities around the mining areas.
On whether there would be a formal ban on open-pit mining, Cimatu said: “We are not yet there. It is still a work in progress. We will find a substitute for open pit mining. As of now not yet… the one that will give a decision on this is the President.”
The MICC started a “fact-finding and science-based” review of an initial batch of 26 mine sites ordered either suspended or shut down in February last year by former Environment Secretary Regina Lopez.
The MICC is co-chaired by Cimatu and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
The DoF earlier said the MICC tapped the Development Academy of the Philippines to implement and manage the “fact-finding and science-based” review process on the 26 mining operations.
As proposed by Dominguez III during the MICC meeting on Oct. 24, 2017, the council agreed to conduct another review in 2019 and every two years thereafter, in keeping with the MICC mandate under Executive Order No. 79 issued by then-President Benigno Aquino III.