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Miners demand full disclosure of DENR’s mine operation audit

/ 06:12 PM February 14, 2017

Large-scale mining firms continued to demand full disclosure of results from a recent audit of their mine operations as four of them finally received their respective copies of Environment Secretary Regina Lopez’s order on the closure or suspension of their projects.

On Tuesday, Marcventures Holdings Inc., Benguet Corp. and Nickel Asia Corp. informed the Philippine Stock Exchange that their subsidiaries have received the closure orders, which also meant the cancellation of the mineral production sharing agreement or MPSA.

Respectively, these subsidiaries are Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. (MMDC), Benguetcorp. Nickel Mines Inc. and Hinatuan Mining Corp. (HMC).

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Nickel Asia said it will pursue all legal remedies to overturn the order “because of due process violations and the absence of any basis that would warrant a suspension of HMC’s Taganaan operations, much less the cancellation of its MPSA.”

Marcventures said that until this matter was given due course and resolved based on the merits, MMDC expected to continue operation and conduct business as usual.

Likewise, Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co. received the order of suspension. The gold producer said it will file an appeal with the Office of the President.

Lopez in a press briefing reiterated that mining activities must never be allowed in watershed areas.

“Water is life. When (a mining activity) hits a watershed, you kill the people living there,” Lopez said.

Following her order to cancel the MPSAs of the 23 operating mines, she announced the cancellation of 75 other MPSAs that pertain to mining projects that have not yet reached production stage.

All four publicly listed firms are members of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), which on Tuesday said the receipt of notices of the MPSA cancellations in the late afternoon of Feb. 12 “only shows the utter lack of regard for due process by (DENR) secretary-designate Regina Paz Lopez.”

Lopez announced her order for closure of 23 mines and suspension of five others last Feb. 2.

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“That Regina Lopez only issued the notices two weeks after her press conference and after subjecting the mining firms to publicity by trial also shows her lack of competence and knowledge to be DENR secretary,” the COMP said.

“That she chose to publicly compromise these companies before having to dialogue with the mining companies is unprofessional and irresponsible, causing much anxiety among our stakeholders, employees, their families and our mining communities,” the group added.

The industry group reiterated its demand for the full disclosure of results of pertinent tests that the audit teams conducted. The chamber maintains that its members received only “a mere summation stating “passed” or “failed.”

“Again, let us abide by due process and rule of law,” the COMP said.

On Tuesday’s announcement of the cancellation of 75 MPSAs as well as the environmental compliance certificate for the $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project, the COMP said such action did not rest on Lopez alone “but must be collectively decided upon by the government as a whole considering the adverse impact it may have on the country.”

The chamber said this was no longer a question of whether a handful of companies really violated environmental laws, (but) a question of whether the government still upholds the sanctity of contracts.

“It has now become a question of due process (a)nd of fairness and justice that applies to all,” the group said.

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TAGS: Benguet corp., Gina Lopez, marcventures holdings inc., mining, mining closure, Nickel Asia Corp., Philippine news updates
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