DENR seeks to widen impact of miners’ social dev’t funds

Posted on December 28, 2016

THE Environment department is drawing up new guidelines for the utilization of mining firms’ social development and management program funds (SDMP) to benefit more people beyond miners’ host communities.

Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez said that the department will release the guidelines as early as year’s end after mining companies have agreed to her proposal “in principle.”

“Today, it was agreed that we use the SDMP funds in an area development format... We want to help the mining companies that passed the audit to use the SDMP funds in a more impactful way,” she said in an interview with BusinessWorld earlier this month.

The SDMP is funded with the equivalent of 1.5% of miners operating costs. The mineral contractor commits to the sustained improvement in the living standards of the host and neighboring communities.

Social development impact was one of the criteria used in assessing miners’ operations during the nationwide metal mines audit the government started in July.

The review, now in its final phase with results targeted for release next month after numerous delays, intended to weed out from the industry mining companies that employ substandard environmental practices. It has left 20 mining firms facing possible suspension.

This brings to more than three-quarters of the country’s 41 metal mines either facing suspension or under threat of such an order. The government also suspended 10 mines prior to the audit.

Some metal miners were left unsanctined despite alleged infractions, which were deemed not severe enough to merit suspension.

Companies that were not recommended for suspension were Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp., Philex Mining Corp., Philsaga Mining Corp., Techiron Resources, Inc., Cagdianao Mining Corp., Taganito Mining Corp., Platinum Group Metals Corp., Greenstone Resources Corp., Pacific Nickel Philippines, Inc., Apex Mining Co. Inc., Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp. -- Janina C. Lim