THE MINING Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) will convene on Wednesday to discuss the final report of a technical review team on the mines ordered closed or suspended last year by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“They will discuss it on Aug. 1,” Finance Undersecretary Bayani H. Agabin said in a mobile phone message on Sunday when asked when the MICC will meet to review the final report.
This was after the MICC met on June 21 on results of the initial review that cleared 23 of the 27 mines checked for compliance with regulations.
“We hope the reports are approved,” said Mr. Agabin.
However, the Finance official said earlier that the number of those who failed or pass since the initial review may change.
Mr. Agabin said that after the MICC approves the report, it will recommend the document to the DENR and the Office of the President for implementation.
Former Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez in February last year ordered to either close or suspend 27 of the country’s 41 metal mines due to various violations of environment regulations, especially for being located in watersheds.
It was only in March that an independent review team of mining experts formed by the MICC began a three-month review.
The mines were assessed on various criteria such as whether the mining firms involved had secured necessary permits to operate a mine, their required rehabilitation efforts, social development programs, whether they have enough capitalization, and their contribution of total mining operations to the host community.
The MICC said it will subject all other mines in the country to a similar review.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his third State of the Nation Address on July 23 reiterated his strong stance against irresponsible mining, warning of “restrictive policies” like the ongoing open-pit mining ban despite the MICC’s recommendation to lift the order.
The country’s mining sector has been reeling from an unfriendly policy environment since former president Benigno S.C. Aquino III issued Executive Order No. 79 in July 2012 that imposed a moratorium on new mining projects until a new mine revenue sharing scheme is enacted. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan