As compliance to this certain new mining order will entail major changes in their operations, mining companies are now doing preparatory works to comply with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) soon-to-be-released Department Administrative Order (DAO) — which, in essence, will limit the area where they can operate.

Environment Undersecretary Analiza R. Teh said that she is “pushing” for the issuance of the DAO on Progressive Rehabilitation this month.

Under the DAO, if a miner is producing 1 million metric tons (MT) or less, they can only operate within 50 hectares of their mine sites, while those producing around 1 million to 3 million MT are only allowed to operate within 60 hectares of their tenements.

Those producing 3 million to 5 million MT, on the other hand, can only excavate within 70 hectares of their contract areas.

Teh said that as early as now, miners already began with their respective “preparatory works” in order to comply with the order, which will be effective immediately after Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu signed it.

“Actually, regional offices are already working this out with mining companies. Chamber [of Mines of the Philippines] said they will support and cooperate,” Teh further said.

In a separate interview, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) Executive Director Ronald Recidoro confirmed that miners are now ready to comply with the new order.

Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones earlier said that non-compliance of the DAO — which would be applicable to all mining operations, even the existing ones that already have feasibility studies — can result to suspension and closure.

Once implemented, the DAO will force mining companies to make major adjustments in their operations. For one, they should be able to start their rehabilitation efforts way earlier than they are supposed to be.

Based on the existing laws, miners are only required to implement their final mine rehabilitation or decommissioning plan at least five years prior to the end of their mineral agreements, which normally have a term of 25 years.

Leones said the DAO “doesn’t violate the rights of the miners” because “in the first place, they are required to rehabilitate and that the new order is just requiring them to adjust it.”

“They really have to adjust,” Leones said. “This order really intends to cause a shake-up the industry.”

Aside from progressive rehabilitation, the DENR is also looking at increasing the rehabilitation funds that are required of miners.

Under the Philippine Mining Act, a Mine Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) shall be deposited as a trust fund in a government depository bank and shall be used for physical and social rehabilitation of areas and communities affected by mining activities and for research on the social, technical and preventive aspects of rehabilitation. | Source: Manila Bulletin