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MICC to submit review of 26 suspended mines by end-Sept.

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THE Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) is expected to come up with its full review of the 26 mining firms ordered closed by former environment secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez by the end of this month, which will be then submitted to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“By the end of the month, we expect the complete report by the MICC team… Our timeline with Secretary [Roy A. Cimatu] is once they submitted their report, give us at least a week and then we will draft the orders for resolving the motions for reconsideration, for action by the Secretary,” DENR Undersecretary Analiza A. Rebuelta-Teh told reporters on Thursday, on the sidelines of the Mining Philippines Conference and Exhibition 2018 in Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

“Once he decides, we will submit the report to the President,” she added.

According to Ms. Teh, the DENR will base its decision on the MICC report, as well as on the results of its technical team review of the mining audit conducted during the term of Ms. Lopez. The DENR also instructed its regional offices to submit monitoring reports on these mining sites.

The 26 sites were divided into five groups, with only two submitting their technical review report so far.

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She said the mining companies have been “very cooperative in terms of providing reports that teams needed. It’s just that the teams have been deliberating how they will rate, and what the additional findings will be… There is also a social survey that will determine (the impact on) affected communities… Second, they also have to undertake an economic study to determine whether a certain area is more viable for mining” or other things Ms. Teh said.

Ms. Teh also said that Mr. Cimatu “wants to put more premium on the environmental [considerations].”

Criteria for assessment include legal, technical, economic, social and environmental compliance.

In February 2017, the DENR under the leadership of Ms. Lopez issued suspension and cancellation orders to 26 mining companies, including 19 nickel mines, three gold and gold copper mines, three chromite mines, and two magnetite/iron mines in functional watersheds.

Ms. Lopez said that the companies may still seek a motion for reconsideration with the Office of the President. Only 13 have filed such motions.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cimatu ordered last week the suspension of all quarry operations in the regions of Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol, Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Davao, and Caraga, following a landslide near a quarry site in Sitio Sindulan, barangay Tinaan in Naga City, Cebu.

“The suspension will be effective until such time that the review and assessment of quarry operations are completed, including surrounding communities as far as their safety from the impact of the quarry operations and geohazards is concerned,” Mr. Cimatu said.

Mr. Cimatu also relieved four officials of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Cebu, pending an investigation into their accountability regarding the landslide. They are: Regional Director Loreto B. Alburo, Chief of Finance and Administrative Division Gerardo V. Mahusay, Chief of Geosciences Division Al Emil G. Berador, and supervising geologist Dennis Gerald A. Aleta. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio

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