AT least four miners recently recommended for suspension are now vying for a prestigious presidential award, which recognizes mining companies with exemplary performance in environmental management, safety and health, and social development and management programs.
According to the selection committee, there are 23 mining companies all over the Philippines that have been shortlisted for this year’s Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA).
The PMIEA was established under Executive Order No. 399 on February 03, 1997, in compliance with the policy that mineral exploration and mining operation shall be pro-environment and pro-people.
The award is conferred every year to deserving mining companies and is in line with the call for the Philippine mining industry to promote and practice responsible mining.
Of the 23 mining companies, 11 are engaged in surface mining while the rest are in quarry operations, mineral exploration and processing. Four of those 11 firms in metallic mineral mining were recommended for suspension by no less than the Mines and Geosciences Bureau as part of the mine audit ordered by Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez.
These four miners—including Agata Mining Ventures, Inc., Hinatuan Mining Corp.-Taganaan, OceanaGold (Phils) Inc., and SR Metals Inc.—were shortlisted and nominated by the different MGB Regional Offices last month, in time with the result of the mining audit.
The selection committee, together with the PMIEA Secretariat headed by the MGB, will conduct field validation on the accomplishments of the nominees starting this month.
The awarding ceremony will be held on the 63rd Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference awards night on November 18, 2015 at CAP-John Hay Trade Center and Cultural Center, Camp John Hay, Baguio City.
“A PMIE award conferred to these miners would directly contradict the findings by the audit committee, which are also composed of members of the MGB,” an industry official said.
Asked whether former PMIEA awardees would be able to pass the ongoing mine audit, Engr. Louie Sarmiento, president of the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA), said they are confident with their selection of winners, adding that “it is a very prestigious award and we don’t want it to be tainted with any irregularities.”
“They are governed by very strict standards,” Sarmiento said, adding that large-scale miners have to meet international standards.
“However, we have to qualify the suspension. Because, like in any other audit, there are certain levels of conformity, audit period, and criteria to be followed,” he added.
Sarmiento said that large-scale mining is governed by a wide range of regulatory controls and permits, requiring them to meet various international standards for them to operate in their host communities.
He stressed that PMSEA, the forerunner in the promotion of occupational safety and health, sound environmental management and social responsibility in the minerals industry, remains committed to its “responsible mining” mantra.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources earlier said that they expect to make a final decision on the number of mines to be suspended by the end of October, adding that they are still in the process of sending letters to companies recommended for suspension.
“The mining companies will be given seven days, and we have another seven days to review,” Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno said in a phone interview. “By the third week of this month, we hope to come up with a decision.”