by Justin K. Vestil
LARGE-SCALE mining firms in Central Visayas will be subjected to an audit to determine if they are compliant with environmental laws and others. At least 11 non-metal and one metal mining firms will be audited not only for environmental compliance, but also policies when it comes to safety, health and social responsibility with their host communities, said Marian Codilla, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7 information officer. Codilla said that Carmen Copper Corp. in Toledo City, the only metal mining firm in Central Visayas, will be audited first. This, as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) wants to focus its phase on the auditing of metal mining firms. She said that after CCC, the 11 non-metal mining firms will be audited next.
Codilla said that DENR Secretary Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez ordered all MGB offices to comply with the auditing of mining firms.
She said that to ensure that there is no bias in the auditing process, officials from MGB Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) will serve as the main auditing team for Central Visayas.
Loreto Alburo, MGB 7 director, said the new DENR secretary’s order to audit large-scale miners was to ensure that their operations are not harmful to the environment and surrounding communities.
“We see the secretary’s sincerity to help the poor through responsible mining and one of the avenues for responsible mining is for these mine operators to get ISO 14001 certification, although this is just one of the requirements to be responsible miners for the common good. We have also regularly monitored the tree planting and other environmental and social development activities of these companies on a quarterly basis,” Alburo said.
Aside from auditing large-scale mining firms, the MGB 7 also plans to coordinate with the local government units and local civil society to report illegal mining activities within the region.
Alburo said that mining and quarry firms that don’t have permits from the LGUs or from their office will be automatically issued a cease and desist order. Small and large scale miners must also have an Environmental Compliance Certificate before they could operate./ Sunstar Cebu