THE ban on open-pit mining in the Philippines stays, Malacañang said on Monday, even after the inter-agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) recommended to reverse the policy.
In a press conference, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said there was no change on President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy to ban open-pit mining in the country.
“I verified this personally with the President, he says that the ban on new open pit mining remains,” Roque told reporters.
The Palace official, however, has yet to find out if the President has been informed of the MICC recommendation that he lift the ban.
“I assure you that this is one of the instances when I personally asked the President if there’s been a change in policy and he says, that there is still no new policy on this, there is still a ban on new open pit mining,” Roque said.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu had told reporters that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would issue an administrative order restoring open-pit mining operations.
“A majority of the MICC members voted to recommend a change in the policy of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with regard to DAO (DENR Administrative Order) 2017-10, particularly, that the DENR lift the ban on open-pit mining provided that mining laws, rules and regulations are strictly enforced,” Cimatu said.
Cimatu co-chairs the Cabinet-level, interagency MICC together with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd.
After his confirmation hearing in Congress, Cimatu vowed to uphold Duterte’s plan to ban open-pit mining.
The ban was implemented by then-Environment secretary Gina Lopez.
In April, Lopez issued DAO 2017-10 that imposed a ban on the open-pit method of extracting copper, gold, silver as well as complex ores.
To recall, Lopez ordered in February the closure of 23 mines and the suspension of five others, which the mining industry alleged did not undergo due process.
A week later, Lopez also ordered the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) entered into by the government.
The MICC later on undertook a review of the closure and suspension orders, which the Department of Finance said “the MICC expects preliminary results in January next year and the final report by March.”