Some of the mining companies that former Environment Secretary and late Regina Paz Lopez successfully shut down are poised to re-open within this year, a development seen to contribute to the struggling Philippine economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Environment Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna said in a text exchange that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now reviewing the operations of select suspended mining companies to see if they can operate again.
“The DENR is now validating in the field through a composite team from DENR, EMB [Environmental Management Bureau] and MGB [Mines and Geosciences Bureau] the actions done by the suspended mining companies to correct the deficiencies or omission as found by the independent Technical Review Teams engaged by MICC [Mining Industry Coordinating Council],” Cuna, who is now the supervising undersecretary for EMB and MGB, said.
The lifting of the suspension, according to him, could happen within this year and will be beneficial to the economy.
“These firms were already previously operating but were suspended for one reason or another. So in terms of revenue and employment, the country should definitely benefit if and when the operations are resumed,” Cuna said.
Right now, the mining industry contributes only 0.85 percent to the country’s total gross domestic product (GDP).
This is despite the fact the country’s mineral resources have an estimated value of around US$1.4 trillion.
In 2018, after conducting its own review of the results of the controversial mine audit conducted by DENR during the time of Lopez, the DENR, now led by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, decided to keep Lopez’s closure orders on Claver Mineral Development Corp., Oriental Synergy Mining Corp., and Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp.
The DENR also validated the suspension orders earlier given to Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., Krominco Inc., Mt. Sinai Exploration and Development Corp., Libjo Mining Corp., Wellex Mining Corp. 1 and 2., Carrascal Nickel Corp., Aam-Phil Natural Resources Exploration and Development Corp., Strong Built (Mining) Development Corp., and Emir Minerals Corp.
Cuna said that DENR will see to it that all the negative findings on these mining companies, including the payment of hefty fines imposed on them, have already been addressed.
“If all of the findings of the TRTs [Technical Review Teams] are addressed the DENR will lift the suspensions,” Cuna said.