Philippines to Shut Down Half of its Mines

On February 2, the Philippines announced the closure of 23 mining operations in several regions of the country. It also put five operations on suspension and one was deferred. The announcement was part of a mining audit report performed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“We assure the industry and the general public that due process was meticulously observed in the mining audit conducted by the agency and that the result would really promote the common good and social justice,” DENR said in a statement.

The final audit report included 30 mining companies that failed the initial audit performed by the agency last year, which reviewed 40 mining companies and their compliance with environmental laws and regulations. At that time, only 11 companies passed the initial audit. DENR Secretary Gina Lopez initiated the audit after President Rodrido Duterte ordered a review of all permits granted to mining, logging and other activities in July 2016. President Duterte said the DENR may amend, suspend or revoke those permits if necessary.

The audit focused on safety and health, mine environmental management, social development, mining tenement, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, hazardous waste, and solid waste, according to the DENR. OceanGold Corp., which owns and operates the high-grade gold-copper Didipio mine located 270 kilometers north of the Philippine capital of Manila, has been placed on the suspended list.

The company released a statement saying they had not received any formal suspension order from the DENR and mining and processing activities were continuing unabated at the Didipio mine. “This decision announced by the DENR secretary is unjustified nor has any basis in law,” said CEO and President Mick Wilkes. “We have not received any show cause notice from the DENR nor have we received a suspension order. Should we ultimately receive a suspension order as suggested today, we have very strong legal grounds to have it overturned.”

As featured in Womp 2017 Vol 02 -