THE Mining Industry Coordination Council (MICC) hopes to start an independent review for all miners not earlier sanctioned by the government this year, the Department of Finance (DoF) said.
Finance Undersecretary Bayani H. Agabin said that after concluding the review of 26 suspended mines by May, he hopes to start the review for the rest of the country’s mines immediately.
“The MICC is supposed to conduct the audit of the operation of the mines. We’re starting with the 26. After this round, we hope to do the review of the other mines also, subject to availability of funds,” Mr. Agabin told reporters on Tuesday.
“If there’s some that’s left over, we’ll probably be able to pursue the second round. We’ll see if we can do it within the year as well. We hope to streamline the process,” he added.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau data show that there are a total of 50 operating metallic mines in the country.
Mr. Agabin said that the independent review for all the mines will take about “two and a half years.”
On Feb. 1, 2017, Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez ordered 26 mines closed or suspended from operation due to violations such as being located in watersheds and polluting surrounding bodies of water.
A team investigating the legal, technical and environmental aspects of the closure started its review last month, and is expected to come up with a preliminary report by May. This will be followed by a separate team reviewing the social and economic implications of the mines’ operations — which could start a month or two after the first team’s review, according to Mr. Agabin.
“The first phase will end May, but the site visit for all the mine sites would have been completed maybe by the third week of April… then we expect them to start preparing the reports. They’re supposed to submit a first draft of the report maybe by end of April,” he said.
The findings of the review team will serve as a policy recommendation to the President and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which co-chairs the MICC with the DoF.
Mr. Agabin said that Congress may be asked to provide funding for the interagency MICC.
“I think if it will be an annual undertaking, we have to. It can be discussed, but right now we split it with the DENR and the DoF.” — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan