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Crackdown on illegal mines cheered

/ 12:20 AM October 20, 2016

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) Wednesday welcomed an anticipated crackdown by the Ombudsman on illegal mines following a move against illegal dumpsites.

“(The COMP has) always called for stricter measures in going against illegal miners as these are the ones who do not contribute to the economy of the country and do the most damage to the environment,” the group’s vice president, Ronald Recidoro, said in a statement.

Recidoro was referring to a statement by Environmental Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera, who said that after focusing on closing illegal dumpsites, the Office of the Ombudsman is also setting its sights on moving against illegal mining, logging and fishing activities.

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He said the mining industry remained the biggest contributor to the government’s National Greening Program, under which 20 million trees were planted from 2011 to 2014.

Citing data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Recidoro said the mining industry’s contribution to reforestation efforts in the country had already covered an estimated 48,000 hectares.

“Members of the (COMP) are covered by a strict edict to safeguard our people, the country’s interests and the environment,” he said. “We will continue to adhere to the tenets of responsible mining and support efforts of government to weed out the irresponsible miners who conduct their business without regard for the law.”

Earlier this month, the MGB announced the nomination of 23 mine operators—including some that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ audit teams recommended for suspension—for the Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award.

The PMIEA is given out yearly to mining companies that “showed exemplary practices in safety and health; environmental protection and rehabilitation; and community and social development and management.”

Executive Order No. 399 issued in 1997 established the PMIEA “in compliance with the policy that mineral exploration and mining operation shall be pro-environment and pro-people,” the MGB said.

Among the nominees for the surface mining category were operators of mines that were recommended for suspension. These include Agata Mining Ventures Inc. (nickel in Agusan del Norte); Hinatuan Mining Corp. (nickel in Eastern Samar); Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. (nickel in Surigao del Sur); OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (copper-gold in Nueva Vizcaya); and SR Metals Inc. (nickel in Agusan del Sur).

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