“There will be more cancellations, without a doubt. We will announce on Thursday but [I’m sure], there will be more,” Environment Secretary Gina Lopez told reporters in a chance interview. ABS-CBN PR/File/Released
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) warned more mining firms would face suspension following the end of a month-long audit on the industry.
“There will be more cancellations, without a doubt. We will announce on Thursday but [I’m sure], there will be more,” Environment Secretary Gina Lopez told reporters in a chance interview.
Last July, Lopez issued her first memorandum order subjecting all operating and suspended mines to an audit to determine their compliance with environmental standards. In particular, the audit was aimed at determining the adequacy and efficiency of environmental protection measures, identify gaps in protection measures and determine appropriate penalties in case of violations.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) aimed to raise the bar on responsible mining in the country with a stricter set of criteria in the audit of around 40 metallic mines nationwide.
Since then, 10 mining firms had been suspended including all operations in Zambales – Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. and Eramen Minerals Inc. – for breach of environmental standards.
Other firms that were suspended include the country’s only iron-producing mine Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp., Samar-based operations Mt. Sinai Exploration Mining and Development Corp., EMIR Mineral Resources Corp., Berong Nickel Corp., Claver Mineral Development Corp., and Citinickel Mines and Development Corp.
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The MGB also stopped the export of nickel ore from the Manicani mine of Hinatuan Mining Corp., an affiliate of Nickel Asia Corp., due to excessive soil extraction.
Aside from this, the DENR ordered the immediate suspension of small-scale mining operations, halting about 60 percent of total gold production in the country.
Lopez earlier disclosed the audit focused on Mindanao where most number of mining operations and applications are located particularly TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc., St. Augustine Gold & Copper Ltd., San Roque Metals Inc., Greenstone Resources Corp., Silangan Mining, Taganito Mining and Shenzhou Mining Corp.
As mining stakeholders await the results, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) expressed confidence that the outcome would be fair and have a positive impact on the industry.
“We hope the audit was done with utmost objectivity and findings will be properly transmitted to companies to address gaps in their operations. We continue to abide by transparency, accountability and integrity in all that we do. We expect no less from the DENR,” the chamber said.