17 more mines to undergo gov’t audit
Another 17 mining operations will undergo audit by the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) starting this month to determine if they have been following the country’s mining regulations and standards, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Tuesday.
The upcoming second round of “objective, science-based, and fact-finding” audit was expected to be finished by January next year, according to the DOF, which co-chairs the MICC together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
However, the DOF did not identify the mining operations to be included in the next batch of review.
During a recent MICC meeting, Finance Undersecretary Bayani H. Agabin disclosed that the next audit would be undertaken by the same technical teams that reviewed 26 mining sites last year.
“The MICC will complete the review and management teams in the second and third week of July. We will tap around 15 experts from the same technical teams that did the first audit,” Agabin said.
The 15 experts will be grouped into three teams with five members for each panel, and will have senior and junior technical and research assistants to help them with the audit. The review will cover the environmental, economic, social, legal and technical aspects of the mining operations.
Last January, Agabin said the DOF and the DENR allotted P25 million from their respective budgets to fund the next round of review of mining operations.
The MICC initially wanted to start the second round of audit last March for completion in June, but it had been delayed by one quarter.
The upcoming round will complete the audit of all active mining firms as only about 40 remain operating to date.
In 2018, the MICC audited 26 mining companies, which former environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez had ordered shut down or suspended due to “adverse findings.”
That first round of review was delayed by more than a year due to lack of funding.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III had nonetheless said that the technical review teams they hired to audit mining operations were “highly commendable.”
The MICC, formed through Executive Order No. 79 issued by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2012, was mandated to conduct a multistakeholder review of mining operations every two years, but only now was it able to do so.
Agabin earlier said the result of the MICC’s first review was already submitted to the Office of the President, while the DENR was conducting its own separate audit.
Last year, the MICC deferred the recommendation to lift the moratorium on the issuance of new mineral agreements as the new revenue-sharing scheme increasing the government’s share from mining operations under the comprehensive tax reform program’s proposed package “2 plus” remained pending in Congress.
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