The country’s big mining lobby on Wednesday lamented the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) reckless public pronouncement on the results of the mine audit, despite the premature results of its findings.
In a statement, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) expressed concern over the repercussions of such pronouncements, stressing that the damaging manner the report was released is highly inconsistent with the letters sent to certain companies informing them of the audit findings.
“The audit findings have serious impact not only on our present mining projects but also upcoming projects,” said COMP Vice President for Policy Ronald Recidoro.
On Tuesday, Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno revealed that the audit team has recommended the suspension of 20 more mining firms for environmental violations, unsystematic mining methods and outstanding social issues.
Among those recommended for suspension are the following: Libjo Mining Corp., AAM-Phil Natural Resources Exploration and Development Corp.—Parcel 1 and Parcel 2B, Krominco Inc., Carrascal Nickel Corp.,
Marcventures Mining and Development Corp., Filminera Resources Corp., Strongbuilt Mining Development Corp., Sinosteel Philippines HY Mining Corp., Oriental Synergy Mining Corp., Wellex Mining Corp.
Also included in the recommendation for suspension are Century Peak Corp.—Rapid City Nickel Project and Casiguran Nickel Project, Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp., and CTP Construction and Mining Corp., Agata Mining Ventures Inc., Hinatuan Mining Corp., Benguet Corp., Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., OceanaGold Phils, Inc., Adnama Mining Resources, Inc., and SR Metals, Inc.
Mining firms with show-cause orders were given seven days to explain why their operations should continue following alleged abuses on the environment and lack of social acceptability.
“To be clear, none of these companies are suspended. But the pronouncements yesterday gave the impression that the companies named have already been suspended. Reputations have been damaged,” Recidoro added.
The official cited the case of Lepanto, which earlier disclosed to the local burse the result of the audit stating that “the audit team found that the company complied with the pertinent provisions of environmental and mining laws, rules and regulations and no penalty is recommended by the team.”
Eight members of COMP were recommended for suspension namely: Filminera, Marcventures, Agata, CTP., Hinatuan Mining., Benguet, Lepanto. and OceanaGold Phils.
Meanwhile, eight Chamber members passed the audit namely: Philex Mining Corp., Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp., Atlas Mining Corp., Cagdianao Mining Corp., Taganito Mining Corp., Platinum Group Metals Corp., Philsaga Mining Corp. and Greenstone Resources Mining Corp.
Recidoro said that the repercussions go well beyond mining communities and further endanger investments in and out of the minerals development industry.
“A lot of these companies with alleged violations are publicly-listed companies, jeopardizing stocks and shareholders especially at a time that the peso is struggling,” Recidoro said.
The Chamber recently reported that an estimated $20 billion worth of mining projects are in the pipeline, majority of which are in Mindanao.
“Export earnings will be severely compromised and potentially 1 percent of the GDP,” he said, adding that more than 75,000 jobs are at risk because of this action.
The DENR action is inconsistent with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive for government to honor existing contracts and support responsible mining.
“Our Chamber members, majority of which are already ISO 14001 certified, continue to adhere to our advocacy of responsible mining, protecting our communities, the environment and the economic progress of the country,” he added.
In the light of this, he appealed to the DENR to clearly define the “new standards” that mining companies are supposed to meet.