FOUR mining firms operating in Zambales remain on the hold list while another sought clarification even as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday recommended the suspension of 20 mining firms after the completion of its audit of mining operations in the country.
Operations in Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI); Eramen Minerals Inc. (EMI); LnL Archipelagic Inc. (LAMI) and Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. (ZDMC) have been suspended as early as July 2014 after a Multi-Disciplinary Team from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the DENR conducted an investigation of their operations and found environmental violations and unsystematic mining methods used.
DENR Secretary Regina Lopez ordered a mining audit of all 41 mining companies last August, including the four in Zambales.
The audit resulted in the suspension of 10 mining firms, 20 were recommended for suspension and 11 were placed under close monitoring.
DENR Undersecretary Leo Jasareno said the most common violations of mining firms are unsystematic mining methods, siltation, tree-cutting without permit and dust pollution.
Mining firms with show-cause orders were given seven days to explain why their operations should continue over the alleged violations.
In Zambales, BNMI, EMI and LAMI were allowed to operate again in 2015 for 90 days but were suspended again in July last year because of non-compliance with the DENR conditions.
In September 2015, BNMI and ZDMC were allowed to resume mining operations.
But in May, a writ of kalikasan was filed before the Supreme Court against destructive mining in the province and SC ruled in favor of petitioner and ordered the Court of Appeals to hear the case.
Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso in July ordered a mining moratorium in the province.
On July 7, Lopez again issued a suspension order against BNMI and ZDMC while keeping EMI and LAMI suspended.
Another Zambales mining firm, Shangfil, which has an exploration permit, is also under investigation.
“For a hundred years, we turned a blind eye. I don’t even blame it on the mining industry, it’s because we at DENR have been lax,” Lopez said.
Meanwhile, Australian OceanaGold miner in Didipio village in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya said in a statement that they have not received any formal order from the department and is “currently seeking clarification and further details.”
It added that their mining and processing activities are continuing at the Didipio Mine and will consider all avenues to facilitate the immediate resolution of their case to ensure there is no disruption of their operations and their local workforces are not displaced.