Chamber of Mines of the Philippines’ Legal and Policy Vice President Ronald Recidoro said the closure and suspension orders issued against mining operations by former environment secretary Gina Lopez had no impact on the local production of nickel ore.
In a press briefing during the 2017 National Conference of the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Friday, Recidoro said the closure and suspension orders were not enforced due to a provision under Administrative Order (AO) 22 or the Prescribing Rules and Regulations Governing Appeals to the Office of the President.
“The suspensions and closures did not actually push through because under AO 22, any appeal to the Office of the President automatically stays the enforcement of the decision. So the 23 (mining operations for closure) and five (for suspension), all of them appealed. The decision has stayed and they continue to operate as usual,” he said.
During Lopez’s stint at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), she initially suspended 10 mining operations — four in Zambales, and two each in provinces of Palawan, Eastern Samar, and Surigao.
“But if you look at these 10 operations, most of them were already suspended, way before Secretary Lopez came into office. So, you won’t be seeing any impact there,” Recidoro said.
After the first suspension order to the 10 mines, the former DENR chief announced the closure of 23 mining operations and the suspension of another five.
By virtue of AO 22, the closure and suspension orders did not push through since all companies appealed to Malacañang Palace.
“Had those closures and suspensions pushed through, they would have impacted 50 percent of our nickel production for the year,” Recidoro said.
On the cancellation of 75 mineral production-sharing agreements (MPSAs) in watersheds nationwide, the Chamber of Mines official noted that these operations have not yet begun.
“They are just agreements, so no production to be impacted there,” he added.
“Overall, I would say that the last 10 months, although it’s been very tumultuous to say the least, there is no real impact yet on production.”
He however pointed out that the big impact would probably be on investor confidence.
“Investments rely on the stability of the policy. For so long as investors do not see that, they will be hesitant to invest in the Philippines. We’re hoping that moving forward, we will be sending the right signals from now on, that we are a reliable partner and we can be a stable area for high-risk investments like mining,” he stressed.