The Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) adopted the report of the MICC Technical Review Teams, which undertook an objective fact-finding and science-based review of the performance of 26 mining companies which were issued suspension and cancellation orders by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in February 2017.

The review covered 19 nickel mines, three (3) gold, and gold and copper mines, three (3) chromite mines and two (2) magnetite/iron mines. It assessed the mining companies’ practices in terms of (1) legal, (2) technical, (3) environmental, (4) social and (5) economic aspects. The review measured the companies’ practices as acceptable (3.0), minor corrections needed (2.0), major reforms needed (1.0) and not acceptable (0).

Upon adoption of the Report, it is now the challenging task of the DENR to determine the actions on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by 13 mining companies on the suspension and cancellation orders slapped against them.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said “We will definitely use the comprehensive report made by the MICC Review Teams in evaluating whether or not a mining company should continue to operate. However, I am inclined to put more premium on the environmental considerations in the mining operations.”

Cimatu cited the directive of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) where he emphasized that in the utilization of the natural resources, environmental protection is non-negotiable and is top priority.

“Mining companies need to shape up. The Review specified major reforms needed, for example, on inadequate mine tailings pond and the very slow rehabilitation of the disturbed mined areas. The Review also pointed out unacceptable practices regarding stockpile areas, location of Tailings Storage Facilities (TSF) and dumping of toxic and hazardous waste. They have to address all of these issues or they will be closed,” Cimatu added.

Asked on whether with the release of the results of the MICC Review, the economy will see an increase in the production of minerals, Cimatu said: “This is definitely a new era of doing mining in the country. We are serious about reinventing mining in the Philippines. As the President said he is more concerned of the actual benefits to the people not just the government revenues to be generated by the mining industry.”

The DENR chief added that the innovative and sustainable practices of some mining firms that may be adopted or replicated to other sites should also be recognized.

On the part of the DENR and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB),Cimatu affirmed that they will have to implement radical policy changes, including the strengthening of monitoring and permitting functions and improve the review of the technical, financial, environmental and social feasibility of mining.

“You will expect new administrative guidelines from DENR to operationalize these reforms. The mining industry is in deep need for radical change. And, to reiterate the message of the President in his SONA, the people of the Philippines must benefit first and foremost from the utilization of the country’s mineral resources.” Cimatu said.

Cimatu and Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguezco-chaired the MICC meeting on Thursday.

The Fact-finding Report will be submitted by the DENR to the President, including the actions taken on the mining companies that were ordered suspended and cancelled. ###