Only 1 of 13 mining firms passes DENR review
The majority of the mining companies that appealed their closure or suspension to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) failed the agency’s audit.
Information obtained by Inquirer showed that of the 13 companies audited, only one company passed the review while three were up for closure and nine for suspension.
The results were said to have already been signed by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.
Environment Undersecretary and acting spokesperson Jonas Leones said the DENR had yet to issue a formal announcement, but added that they would be announcing the results soon.
Companies that were reportedly up for closure included Claver Mineral Development and Corp. in Surigao del Sur where Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. sits as board member; Oriental Synergy Mining Corp. in Surigao del Norte and Laguna-based Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp.
Companies reportedly up for suspension included Dinagat Islands-based Aam-Phil Natural Resources and Development Corp., Krominco Inc., Libjo Mining Corp. and Wellex Mining Corp.; Carrascal Nickel Corp. in Surigao del Sur; Emir Mineral Resources Corp. and Mt. Sinai Exploration and Development Corp. in Samar; Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., and Strong Built Mining Development Corp. in Cebu.
Only Palawan-based Berong Nickel Corp., a subsidiary of Consunji-led DMCI Holdings Inc., reportedly passed the mining audit.
In an interview, Leones said companies that would be up for closure could appeal their cases to the Office of the President (OP) 15 days after the release of the order.
Meanwhile, companies that would be suspended may either take the same legal route or resolve their violations until they are deemed fit to resume their operations anew.
DENR’s own findings were said to have been married with the findings of the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) which Cimatu cochaired with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Companies were assessed in terms of legal, technical, environmental, social, and economic aspects. A point system was created such that three is the highest score, two is given to those who may need minor reforms, one for major reforms, and zero for those that may have to face closure.
Claver, Oriental Synergy and Ore Asia were said to have scored below the passing grade of 1.5.
Cited violations include the lack of a proper rehabilitation plan and inadequate water management.
In February last year, former Environment Secretary Regina Lopez announced the closure and suspension of 23 mining firms “for operating in functional watersheds,” 10 of which appealed to the OP while 13 appealed to the DENR.
Officials privy to the matter said the OP was waiting for DENR’s mining review before it would either relegate the review of the 10 companies to the agency or decide to manage its own review.
Lopez’s appointment was eventually rejected by the Commission of Appointments following appeals from several industry groups that were affected by the stoppage of mining operations.
While mining companies provide livelihoods to several island and indigenous communities, Lopez said they threatened the country’s finite resources.
DENR’s final review concludes the waiting game for mining companies whose fates have been in limbo for 21 months due to delays in the review.
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