Palace assures miners of due process
President Duterte and members of his Cabinet assured mining firms that they would be afforded due process in the mining audit being conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“This means companies affected by mining closures for violations of environmental laws and regulations will be given the opportunity to respond or dispute the audit, or make the necessary remedies to ensure compliance with government standards,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
He said the issue over the decision of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez to shut down mining firms over violations of environment laws was discussed during the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
The Palace official said Department of Finance officials would be meeting with their counterparts in the DENR as members of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC).
Wednesday, Lopez said she would sign and release within the day orders for the suspension of 23 mines and closure of five others after the affected companies said they received neither any notice nor results of the mine audit.
“When the press conference was done (last Feb. 2), the evaluations have been completed days before,” Lopez said in a statement. “What happened was an omnibus directive. It was prepared for all mining companies (but) our lawyers have decided it should be issued to individual mining companies. That’s why there’s been a delay.”
Lopez insisted that the mine audit was “fair and within the law,” claiming that she did it “to protect the present and future generations as enshrined in the mining law and the Philippine constitution.”
Large-scale miners through the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines have engaged the inter-agency MICC to review and “hopefully reverse” Lopez’s actions.
Output from metallic mines had dropped in value by 8 percent to P100.6 billion in 2016 from P109.8 billion in 2015 partly due to similar announcements on the suspension of mines made last year, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
Gold production maintained the biggest share with P44.8 billion or 44 percent of total metal output in 2016. This meant an increase of 31 percent by value. Copper represented P17.8 billion in output value (a decrease of 6 percent) while the rest — silver, chromite and iron ore — rang up about P1 billion.
Nickel accounted for P36.8 billion or 37 percent. The value of nickel ore directly shipped out and of nickel sulfides fell by 41 percent to P21.8 billion and 21 percent to P15 billion, respectively. In terms of volume, production of nickel ores plunged by 23 percent to 24.7 million dry metric tons (DMT).
The MGB had noted that in a worst-case scenario where operating mines recommended for suspension are finally suspended, the immediate impact on the economy in terms of investment, employment and production would be as follows:
- about a quarter or $1.69 billion of the expected additional investments on the country’s operating mines—pegged at $4.45 billion—may not proceed.
- 19,674 people or 43 percent of the mining industry’s current workforce stand to lose their jobs. Add to these the indirect jobs that mining creates, with at least four additional jobs in related industries on top of every direct employment.
• gold output may be slashed by 45 percent while production of nickel and copper may be cut by 67 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
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