MAC: Mines and Communities

More Philippine miners threatened with suspension under crackdown

Published by MAC on 2016-10-27
Source: Statements, Reuters, Bloomberg, PDI, Sun Star

It has been another hectic few weeks with regard to mining in the Philippines, and the Government's environmental crackdown. The long-awaited environmental audit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), headed by Gina Lopez, was finally promulgated at the end of September. (see: Philippines: President notes "Mining - My way or the environmental highway").

It was generally greeted with cheers by civil society watch-dogs, who favourably noted the proposed suspension of almost half of the 41 operating mines (to add to the 10 already suspended). The bulk of firms affected were nickel miners, with many being in the Caraga region. However, some noted that the suspensions only involved notices that asked for set conditions to be applied, otherwise a suspension would commence. Many companies have argued they are already - or at least will be - in compliance, and how many firms will actually be suspended is open for question.

Ms Lopez has indicated her crusade will continue, promising she will place a moratorium on any new mines and ordering the investigation of alleged “midnight deals” involving some officials of her department and mining companies during the last days of the previous administration. The DENR has said it will cancel the license of another nickel miner, Austral-Asia Link Mining in Davao Oriental province, because it is next to protected areas. (Interestingly we believe this is the lease that Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton once co-owned, before withdrawing from the project).

Yet, the industry fight-back continues, with the much-expected first legal challenge to the ongoing suspension orders. The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines called the audit 'tainted' because of the inclusion of 'anti-mining' civil society groups. (Perish the thought there would be critical, or even independent, voices included!) The odd inconsistency of the DENR nominating some of the suspended companies for environmental awards has also been exposed plain. The obvious concerns around jobs have been aired, although Ms Lopez has reiterated that companies should employ workers on making good environmental failures and/or rehabilitation work.

A particular focus has been on OceanaGold, where the company has claimed to be in a "constructive" dialogue over its own suspension notice, while the local Governor of Nueva Vizcaya has called for unity in communities against the project. This is a request which seems to have been heartily welcomed, with citizen groups requesting the closure of the mine and expulsion of the company. There was also popular support for the people of El Salvador, following the ISDS case (see: OceanaGold loses compensation claim against El Salvador).

The President has continued to support his controversial minister, and talked of the need for a new 'people-friendly' mining law.

Outside of this main story, concerns about the human rights situation in the country continues - particularly after the killing of Jimmy Saypan, a noted anti-mining leader from the Compostela Valley. (See: Philippines: Anti-mining leader dies in hospital after gunmen attack).

Coal and climate change has also been making the news, with environmental groups continuing arguing against coal-fired power plants and mines. although President Duterte is saying the Philippines need not follow the rules of “imperialists” by abiding with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

What this will mean in practice is unclear, but - like the roller-coaster ride with regard to regulating the mining industry - it is likely to grab the headlines.

Suspended Philippine nickel miner mounts first legal challenge to govt crackdown

By Manolo Serapio Jr 

26 October 2016

MANILA - A suspended Philippine nickel miner said on Wednesday it has sued government environment agencies for a nearly four-month stoppage of its operations, in the first legal challenge to the state's environmental crackdown on the mining sector.

The Philippines is the world's top nickel ore supplier and an environmental audit that has halted a quarter of its 41 mines plus the risk that 20 more may be shuttered has fuelled a rally in global nickel prices.

Benguetcorp Nickel Mines Inc's (BNMI) mine in Zambales province, north of the capital Manila, is among 10 suspended for environmental infractions in a government clampdown on damage from mining in July and August.

"Seeing that BNMI is left with no other viable administrative remedy, it is constrained to elevate to the Courts the matter of the unlawful suspension of its nickel mining operations," the company said in a statement.

The company filed a "petition for certiorari with injunction to assail the suspension order" jointly issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Environmental Management Bureau and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources regional offices with a regional trial court in Pampanga province, said Anna Montes, spokeswoman for parent firm Benguet Corp.

The petition was filed on Oct. 21 and the first hearing is set on Nov. 9, Montes told Reuters by phone.

The Zambales mine of BNMI was among the first mines suspended by the government on July 8.

The suspensions followed "various complaints of environmental degradation," according to Leo Jasareno, who was then director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau. He said the suspensions would be in effect until the companies complied with conditions set by the agency.

BNMI said the government environment officials rejected its proposal to address the problems. It said it was forced to lay off more than 1,000 workers since its suspension.

"To avoid irreversible financial damage to its business and ease the hardship on other affected stakeholders, the company has no choice but to resort to legal action to obtain an equitable resolution to this controversy," it said.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez, who spearheaded the mining audit, did not immediately return a request for comment.

On top of the audit that was completed in August, Lopez said on Oct. 14 that her agency will review all environmental permits previously granted to the minerals industry.

(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr., editing by David Evans)

Philippines minister says wants to ban new mines as clampdown deepens

14 October 2016

The Philippines' environment minister on Friday said she wanted to ban new mines, ramping up a campaign to clamp down on damage from the minerals industry in the Southeast Asian nation.

The Philippines is the world's top nickel ore supplier and an environmental crackdown that has halted a quarter of its 41 mines, and the risk that 20 more maybe shuttered has spurred a rally in global nickel prices.

"I want to put a moratorium on any new mine," Regina Lopez told a media briefing on Friday.

"I don't want to fight the mining companies, I can work with them as long as they don't silt the river, destroy the rice fields."

Lopez, a committed environmentalist, also said her agency would review around 800 environmental compliance certificates (ECC) including those granted to mines. That would come on top of a mining industry audit completed in August that led to the current mine suspensions.

Lopez on Friday said that not all the 20 mines recommended for suspension would be halted, confirming an earlier Reuters report.

Nickel prices surged to a one-year high of $11,030 a tonne in August, although the metal has since retreated, trading at $10,425 on Friday.

Lopez also announced the suspension of the ECC of a nickel mine in southern Davao Oriental province run by private-owned Austral-Asia Link Mining Corp.

Lopez told Reuters on Monday that the environmental permit would be canceled because it sits between Mount Hamiguitan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Pujada Bay, a marine protected area.

"We're now going to have an intense evaluation of all other ECCs. No more mining in any protected areas," she said.

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Writing by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Joseph Radford)

DENR probes ‘midnight deals’

By Raadee S. Sausa

30 September 2016

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has ordered the investigation of alleged “midnight deals” involving some officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and mining companies granted extension or expansion of their operations during the last days of the Aquino administration.

Acting on a complaint from the Alyansa Tigil-Mina (ATM), Lopez demanded an audit of all mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA), commonly known as mining license, approved by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in May and June this year.

In a press statement, Jayvee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, said a dozen mining firms were granted extension of their MPSA by then MGB Director and now undersecretary Leo Jasareno despite an executive order issued by then President Benigno Aquino 3rd suspending the issuance or renewal of mining licenses.

Executive Order (EO) 79 states that no new mineral agreement shall be issued by MGB pending the approval of a legislation clarifying the existing revenue-sharing scheme and mechanisms for the mining industry.

“The extension of mining licenses by MGB is questionable since it was against the order of PNoy, who was still the President at that time. Worse, some of these licenses were expansion of contract areas, meaning expanded operations,” Garganera stressed.

He said these “midnight deals” were approved just days before Aquino stepped down. The MGB’s website showed that Jasareno approved some of the licenses on June 28 this year, just two days before President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office.

The companies that were given an extension are Sinosteel Phils. H.Y. Mining Corp. in Dinagat Island; Surigao Integrated Resources Corp., in Surigao Del Norte; Chromerock Dev. Corp. in Eastern Samar; and Mt. Labo Exploration and Dev. Corp. in Camarines Norte.

Those awarded with license for expansion of operations are Adnama Mining Resources Inc.; Holcim Mining; Shangfil Mining and Trading; Kingking Mining; Core Mining Corp.; Stagno Mining; Sinophil Mining; Quarry Ventured Phils. Inc.; Rapid City and Dev. Corp.; Global Mini-Met Resources; Parvisgold Inc.; Mina Tierra Gracia Inc.; Investwell Resources Inc; Surigao Integrated Resources Corp., Shuley Mine Inc.; Mt. Labo Exploration; and Westchinamin Corp.

Lopez, in ordering the probe, wants to find out who gave Jasareno the go-signal to to grant the expansion permits.

Confusion over mining regulation

By The Manila Times Editorial -

12 October 2016

We do not disagree with Gina Lopez’s appointment to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); as a matter of fact, there is a certain admirable logic in President Rodrigo Duterte’s choice of an avowed champion of the environment to lead the department tasked with properly managing and protecting it.

Over the weekend, however, it was revealed that four mining companies recommended for suspension as a result of the strict environmental and regulatory compliance audit ordered by Lopez and begun on July 8 have been nominated by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) – the very agency conducting the audit – for the prestigious Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA). The timing of the nominations suggests that the vetting and selection process by the MGB was carried out while the audit process was underway, or shortly after it was completed.

Then on Monday, it was announced that Environment Undersecretary and MGB head Leo Jasareno had been removed from his position, largely due to a technicality. Jasareno had headed the MGB for the past five years before he was appointed by Environment Secretary Lopez as officer-in-charge and senior undersecretary for environment in a special order on August 3. That appointment was said to be still pending in the President’s office, the implication being that with confirmation of Lopez’s order, Jasareno was technically not authorized to act in the position he occupied.

Lopez herself appeared nonplussed at the news, and informed reporters asking about the matter that she would discuss it with the president personally.

“I cannot let that happen. I like Leo. I love Leo,” she reportedly said, adding that she needs somebody “technical and honest” like Jasareno in her office.

Mining, or more to the point, mining’s impact on the environment, is just one of the many areas of the DENR’s responsibility. Yet, it is perhaps the one that has the greatest potential benefit to the rest of the country, in spite of its environmental risks. Mining provides direct revenue and employment, and primarily benefits smaller, poorer, more remote communities – exactly the sort of places Duterte wishes to boost with his drive to spread development to the long-overlooked provinces. Mining also creates the potential for indirect economic growth, through associated industries such as mineral processing, shipping, industrial equipment, shipping, power generation, and all the smaller services and businesses that naturally grow in the wake of larger ones.

Mining potentially does impose great costs; it taps irreplaceable mineral wealth, and is environmentally invasive no matter how carefully it is done. President Duterte’s challenge to mining firms to “do it like they do in Australia or Canada, or get out,” was completely reasonable; in fact, Philippine miners should strive to be even more exemplary than those two environment-conscious countries. Mining can and should be regulated very strictly to extract the maximum benefit with the least amount of harm; responsible miners know this, and have demonstrated a willingness to work with it.

But instead of strict and consistent regulation, what they are facing is a regulatory environment that is contradictory and haphazard. That must be corrected, and quickly. No mining firm, no matter how willing to work with stringent national and local rules, is willing to invest billions of dollars and decades of sustained effort into such chaos. And when they don’t, it’s not the mining companies who lose, but those who would benefit here in the Philippines, the very people the President has vowed to uplift.

MGB audit team leader axed; miners seek direction

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

10 October 2016

Miners are now asking the government for clear direction after President Duterte displaced former Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno, who was in charge of the government’s nationwide audit on all mining operations.

New MGB Director Mario Luis Jacinto confirmed on Monday that Jasareno, who was tasked to lead the mining audit, is now out of the office.

“Officially, he (Jasareno) doesn’t have a position anymore so he can’t function for government,” Jacinto told reporters.

Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) Vice President for Policy Ronald Recidoro said in a phone interview that this development raises a lot of questions as to what will happen to the mining audit.

To recall, only 11 companies out of 41 metallic mines have passed the government’s nationwide audit, while 20 have been recommended for suspension.

These firms that are at risk of being suspended should receive a show cause letter from the DENR asking them to explain why their operations shouldn’t be stopped.

But according to Recidoro, none of COMP’s member companies recommended for suspension has yet to receive any letter.

“(The displacement of Jasareno) raises a lot of questions. What will happen to the audit? But we welcome this development and we are willing to meet as promised,” Recidoro said.

Jasareno will be replaced by Wilfredo Moncano who has been with MGB for 16 years now.

DENR Secretary Gina Lopez, who retained Jasareno as DENR undersecretary after being replaced by Jacinto as MGB Director, said she will talk to the President and convince him to keep him.

“I can’t let that happen… I need somebody technical and honest… I will meet with the President first. Of course, I dont want to go against him but if someone did good, you don’t let him go. What he did in the audit, it takes a lot of courage,” Lopez said.

But Jacinto, during the flag ceremony at MGB office in Quezon City, already formally announced on Monday the appointment of Moncano.

“It’s the prerogative of the President to appoint people. As the director of MGB, I will work with the people here. The important thing is that people will be able to perform their functions and jobs,” Jacinto said in an interview.

This is not the first time that the President attempted to ax Jasareno out of this administration.

To recall, while in the middle of the audit, Duterte suddenly decided to appoint Jacinto as MGB chief.

In his Presidential Directive No. 002, Series of 2016, Duterte designated Jacinto as the new director of the MGB in a concurrent capacity corollary to his appointment as undersecretary at the DENR.

Jasareno had been the MGB director for the past five years and had been orienting and mentoring Lopez about the sector since Day One of her appointment.

The appointment also came amid the much talked about ongoing audit on mining firms, which is being led by Jasareno and Lopez herself.

Despite Jacinto’s appointment, Lopez designated Jasareno as the one “on top of the operations” of the ongoing audit.

Philippines to cancel environmental permit of nickel miner as crackdown continues

By Manolo Serapio Jr

By Reuters

10 October 2016

MANILA - The Philippines will cancel the environmental permit of a nickel miner that began operations this year, a minister said, as the government intensifies a campaign to punish mineral producers harming natural resources.

The Southeast Asian country is the world's top nickel ore supplier and an environmental crackdown that has halted a quarter of its 41 mines, and the risk that 20 more maybe shuttered has spurred a rally in global nickel prices.

But the nickel mine now threatened with a shutdown, in southern Davao Oriental province and run by private-owned Austral-Asia Link Mining Corp, was not among those suspended or recommended for suspension.

The issue with the mine is it sits between Mount Hamiguitan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Pujada Bay, a marine protected area, said Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez who calls its approval "madness".

"The ECC (environmental compliance certificate) was reviewed and as far as I know it will be cancelled," Lopez told Reuters. The ECC "should have never been given," she said.

Cancelling the ECC would halt the operations of Austral-Asia's nickel mine, which started up in January, said an official at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau who declined to be named because he was not auhorised to speak with media.

The miner was also issued a permit to export 50,000 tonnes of nickel ore with iron content to China in June, the official said.

An official at Asiaticus Management Corp, which runs Austral-Asia, did not return a call from Reuters seeking comment.

Manila has already halted 10 mines, eight of them nickel, for environmental infractions in a two-month audit that began in July.

Twenty more have been recommended for suspension, although Lopez said on Sept. 30 that not all 20 may be frozen.

In all, the nickel producers, including those suspended and those at risk, account for more than half of the Philippines' 2015 nickel ore output.

The environment agency also reviewed the ECCs of other projects, including the undeveloped $5.9 billion Tampakan gold-copper mine and an expansion venture of Semirara Mining and Power Corp, the Philippines' top coal producer.

Lopez declined to say whether the ECCs for Tampakan and Semirara will be cancelled, adding that it will be discussed at an upcoming media briefing.

She said in August that Tampakan should not have been given an ECC since the planned mine would cover an area the size of 700 football fields in what otherwise would be agricultural land.

Semirara said earlier that a government audit found its expansion project to be "technically sound".

(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Tom Hogue)

Philippines Aims for Final Mine-Halt Decisions by Month-End

Bloomberg News

6 October 2016

The Philippine government has set out a timetable for the final stages of its review of metallic miners in the world’s largest nickel producer, and aims to decide which suppliers will be suspended for failing an environmental audit before the end of this month.

The Environment Department is sending letters to companies recommended for suspension, and producers have a week to respond, according to Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno. There’s a further seven days for the responses to be assessed by the department before a decision, Jasareno said.

The mining companies “will be given seven days, and we have another seven days to review,” Jasareno said in a phone interview late on Wednesday. By the third week of this month, “we hope to come up with a decision,” he said.

While Deutsche Bank AG has raised the possibility that nickel may surge to as much as $14,000 a ton in the event of a significant wave of mine closures in the Southeast Asian nation, the bank cautioned that “the magnitude of the rally will, of course, depend on the final outcome” of the environmental audit.

Constrict Supplies

The global nickel market is awaiting the definitive results from the checkup that was ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte and Environment Secretary Gina Lopez. Three-quarters of the nation’s mines fell short in the audit, with 20 facing suspension on top of 10 already halted. While there’s concern that further halts may constrict supplies, several miners including Nickel Asia Corp. have said they are confident problems can be addressed.

Nickel futures traded 0.2 percent higher at $10,095 a metric ton at 2:27 p.m. in Singapore, and the metal used in stainless steel is 14 percent higher this year. Prices surged to as much as $10,900 on Sept. 27 as Lopez presented the list of mines recommended for suspension.

While Deutsche Bank AG raised the possibility this week that nickel may gain to $14,000 in the event of a significant wave of mine closures in the Southeast Asian nation, the bank cautioned that “the magnitude of the rally will, of course, depend on the final outcome” of the audit.

— With assistance by Jake Lloyd-Smith

Editorial: Violations everywhere

27 September 2016

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has released its results of field audit of mining operations in the country of which only ten were not recommended for suspension, but which cannot even be described as having passed standards.

In a press conference by DENR presided by no less than Secretary Gina Lopez and the audit report presented by Undersecretary Leo Jasareno, it was clear that just about every single mining company has been violating Philippine laws, except that, ten companies violated the least and are thus allowed to continue operations.

Twenty-three others have either been suspended or recommended to be suspended.

But only after causing massive siltation of rivers and the sea, and in the case of Benguet Mines in Itogon, Benguet, abandoning an open pit for the past 20 years.

We can just imagine the hundreds of deaths that these mining operations have caused, from those who have suffered the ill effects of pollution and especially among those who led protests against mining.

It took a leader from the provinces to show to all and sundry that all these are happening right under our noses and protected by the oligarchs who are now apparently bonding together to oust the President.

Now that the DENR is headed by somebody more concerned about the environment than the mines, there is the prevailing sense of justice.

Yes, we have the resources that can be mined, but we have to make sure that these resources are mined according to laws and international mining standards, not according to the pockets of the protectors of the mining companies.

Secretary Lopez said it best during the press conference Tuesday when she explained the reason why the audit report took some time to be made public, saying they wanted to make sure that “everything was done really, really well”.

“(I)n other countries, like Canada, or Australia, these are really strict (field audits). You have one violation, pak! You are suspended right away,” she said.

“What happened in this country, for a hundred years we turned a blind eye. So what happened? I don’t even blame it on the mining industry, it’s because we at DENR have been lax.”

Lopez pointed out that the Philippines is among the most vulnerable to climate change. This should be enough impetus for government to make sure that environmental laws are followed and thus reduce risks of environmental damages.

“If we want to have a mining industry which is at par or even better than Canada or Australia, which we must be because we’re the number one country vulnerable to climate change, we have to be really, really strict with our rules,” she said.

Now, the course has been set. Amid the coordinated attacks on the Duterte Government, the agencies are doing what should be done. It is up to us, the citizens, to ensure that this government continues to do what is right for all and not just the moneyed and powerful few, as they have been doing throughout all these years.

The mining company worker is just as entitled to the piece of land as the farmer downstream and the child next door. Just because mining generates employment for a village, it does not mean that the children should inhale red dust and not longer be able to eat fresh fish from their sea.

Rather, it should be that their elders are employed by mining companies while the whole family enjoys the benefits of a protected environment for generations to come.

Philippines says only 10 of 40 mines pass nationwide audit

The Philippines said that only 10 mines had passed an environmental audit, a quarter of the nationwide total, while a further 10 have been suspended and the remainder now need to "get their act together," with seven days to respond to alleged shortcomings before a final decision.

27 September 2016

MANILA - The Philippines said that only 10 mines had passed an environmental audit, a quarter of the nationwide total, while a further 10 have been suspended and the remainder now need to "get their act together," with seven days to respond to alleged shortcomings before a final decision.

"The critical thing is that the resources of the country will be utilised in a way that benefits the greater majority," Environment Secretary Gina Lopez told a briefing in Manila on Tuesday. The probe in the world's largest nickel producer was ordered by new President Rodrigo Duterte and Ms Lopez in July to check on compliance. The country has 40 metallic mines.

Nickel has been the best-performing metal this quarter on concern that the audit will disrupt ore shipments, adding to supply pressures in a market that's been supported by projections for a global deficit. The nation accounts for about a quarter of global mined nickel supply, with most cargoes feeding China's stainless-steel industry.

'No Beef'

"I want to make it clear. I have no beef against the mining industry, but I am against the adverse effects happening in some of the situations," Ms Lopez said. "There are mining companies that passed and I want to work with them. I want to be better than Canada, better than Australia."

Prices surged to US$11,030 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange last month as the audit got under way, the highest in a year, and nickel has outperformed all other metals on the Bloomberg Commodity Index this quarter. Prices traded 2.2 per cent lower at US$10,300 a ton at 11.28am in Manila.

Citigroup Inc has played down the likely impact of the audit in a quarterly commodities report received on Monday even as the bank forecast global nickel deficits through to at least 2020. The larger nickel miners probably won't affected by the closures and may even increase output, according to Citigroup.

The Philippines' principal mining group has challenged the legitimacy of the checkup, saying there were anti-industry campaigners among the personnel that assessed suppliers. The teams didn't act as impartial auditors, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines told Bloomberg last week.

The country produced 467,000 tons of nickel last year, 24 per cent of the global mined total of 1.93 million tons, according to a quarterly report from Morgan Stanley.

There was a cumulative global deficit 42,500 tons in the first seven months of the year, the International Nickel Study Group said in September.

15 of 20 suspended mining firms from Caraga region

27 September 2016

(Updated) -- Fifteen mining companies out of the 20 facing suspension by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are based in Caraga region.

Environment Secretary Regina "Gina" Lopez, with Undersecretary Leo Jasareno, made the announcement Tuesday, September 27, as a result of the mining audit the environment bureau conducted shortly upon the assumption of President Rodrigo Duterte and Lopez subsequent appointment.

These mining firms will be given a show cause order and will be asked to answer within seven days upon receiving the order, Jasareno said.

The following are the mining companies based in Caraga region:
Libjo Mining Corporation -- Province of Dinagat Islands
AAM-Phil Natural Resources Exploration and Development Corporation - Parcel 1 and Parcel 2B -- Claver, Surigao del Norte
Krominco Incorporated -- Claver, Surigao del Norte
Carrascal Nickel Corporation -- Carrascal, Surigao del Sur
Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation -- Cantilan, Surigao del Sur
Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation -- Surigao del Norte
Wellex Mining Corporation -- Province of Dinagat Islands
Century Peak Corporation - (Rapid City Nickel Project and Casiguran Nickel Project) -- Province of Dinagat Islands
Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corporation -- Province of Dinagat Islands
CTP Construction and Mining Corporation -- Carrascal Mining Corporation -- Carrascal, Surigao del Sur
Agata Mining Ventures Incorporated -- Agusan del Norte
Hinatuan Mining Corporation --- Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur
Adnama Mining Resources Inc. -- Surigao del Norte
SR Metals Inc. -- Agusan del Norte
Sinosteel Philippines HY Mining Corporation -- Province of Dinagat Islands

The other five companies are based in Leyte and Benguet and one in Nueva Vizcaya:
Filminera Resources Corporation -- Aroroy, Masbate
Strongbuilt Mining Development Corporation -- Leyte
Benguet Corporation -- Benguet
Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company -- Benguet
OceanaGold Philippines Inc. -- Nueva Vizcaya

"We'll provide such firms results of our audit on respective operations," Jasareno said Tuesday.

He noted such move aims to give the mining companies a chance to dispute the audit results and explain if they indeed failed in complying with relevant laws and regulations.

Jasareno said upon receipt of the audit results, the firms have seven days to respond and explain themselves.

Failure to respond will result in suspension, he said.

"If violations we cited carry penal provisions, these will be applied as well to firms concerned," he said.

Should the firms' explanations be adequate and satisfactory, Jasareno said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will allow them to continue operating.

"We'll issue the suspension order if there's strong basis to do so," he clarified.

Jasareno further said suspended firms must address environmental degradation arising from non-compliance with laws and regulations before DENR allows them to operate again.

"There's no deadline in completing such work," he said.

Lopez said the suspension does not mean she is against mining but insisted on strictly following environmental regulations to sustain the ecology and life.

"I have no beef against mining. I am vehemently against the adverse effects that may happen, that are happening in some of the situations," Lopez said.

"If we want to have a mining industry, that's either at par with or even better than the world's best, we must be very strict with our rules," she said.

The DENR chief plans to meet the audit-failing firms this week to determine how these can truly undertake responsible mining.

"I think some of those companies hold promise," she said.

Earlier, DENR suspended 10 metallic mines also for failing to comply with relevant laws and regulations.

Jasareno identified the mines as BenguetCorp. Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc., LnL Archipelago Minerals Inc., Ore Asia Mining & Dev. Corp., Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., Berong Nickel Corp., Citinickel Mining & Dev. Corp., Emir Mineral Resources Corp., Claver Mineral and Mt. Sinai Mining Explo & Dev. Corp.

He said such firms are already undertaking work to address environmental degradation due to such non-compliance.

Lopez said she also plans to meet firms that passed DENR's audit to see how respective operations can be enhanced further.

The audit passing firms are:
Philex Mining Corporation
Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation
Carmen Copper Corporation (Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation)
Techiron Resources Incorporated
Cagdianao Mining Corporation
Taganito Mining Corporation
Platinum Group Metals Corporation
Greenstone Resources Corporation
Philsaga Mining Corporation
Pacific Nickel Philippines Inc.
Apex Mining Company Incorporated

Investor concern

If the 20 companies will not be able to explain why they committed the violations, it will eventually be closed. If this happens, a total of 30 mining companies will shut down.

"Due to the government's emphasis on responsible mining, social and environmental standards are becoming more stringent and compliance will remain a major challenge," said Eufracia Taylor, Philippines analyst at global risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft.

Investor concerns over nickel production are unlikely to abate, especially as Congress prepares to review mining laws and mulls the possibility of a nickel ore export ban, Taylor said.

Factbox: Philippines recommends suspending 20 more mines after audit

Commodities -

27 September 2016

Thirty mines in the Philippines, including 18 nickel producers, have either been suspended or recommended for suspension for environmental violations in an unprecedented crackdown that has shaken the industry and the global nickel market.

The Southeast Asian country, the world's top supplier of nickel ore, on Tuesday recommended that 20 more mines be suspended until the operators address lapses. The government has given them seven days to explain any violations of mining and environmental laws.

Earlier this year, the government suspended 10 mines, eight of them nickel, for environmental infractions as part of an audit that began on July 8 and was completed in August. The Philippines has 41 mines with others producing copper and gold.

Following is the list of those recommended for suspension and some of the findings of the audit team:

1. Libjo Mining Corp - non-compliance with rule on appropriate slope and height of benches and the Clean Air Act. A bench is a narrow, strip of land cut into the side of an open-pit mine.

2. AAMPHIL Natural Resources Exploration and Development Corp (Parcel 1) - non-compliance with the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.

3. AAMPHIL Natural Resources Exploration and Development Corp (Parcel 2B) - violation of certain conditions of its environment compliance certificate.

4. Krominco Inc - mining violation

5. Carrascal Nickel Corp - discoloration of the shoreline fronting the causeway caused by the spillage of ore during loading.

6. Marcventures Mining and Development Corp - failure to plant 3 million seedlings as penalty for mining violation and has no valid discharge permit for silt-ponds and oil and water separator.

7. Filminera Resources Corp/Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corp - operating without an approved 3-year Development/Utilization Work Program.

8. Strongbuilt Mining Development Corp - violated certain provisions of mining and environmental laws.

9. Sinosteel Philippines H.Y. Mining Corp - several violations including failure to secure tree-cutting permit and violated certain terms and conditions of mineral processing and sharing agreement with the government.

10. Oriental Synergy Mining Corp - several violations including failure to secure tree-cutting permit, has no approved survey plan and did not comply with a condition under its environmental clearance certificate.

11. Wellex Mining Corp - has no ISO 14001 certification. The ISO 14001 is a global environmental management standard.

12. Century Peak Corp (Rapid City Nickel Project) - no mitigating measure for soil erosion, siltation, dust emission, and no tree-cutting and water permits.

Century Peak Corp (Casiguran Nickel Project) - no mitigating measure for soil erosion, siltation, dust emission, and no tree-cutting and water permits.

13. Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp - siltation, no tree-cutting and water permits and with dust emission.

14. CTP Construction and Mining Corp - violated certain conditions of its environment clearance certificate.

15. Agata Mining Ventures Inc, partly owned by TVI Pacific Inc - no ISO 14001 certification.

16. Hinatuan Mining Corp, partly owned by Nickel Asia Corp - violated certain conditions in its environmental clearance certificate.

17. Benguet Corp - has two inactive tailings storage facilities that have not been rehabilitated and an abandoned open pit.

18. Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co - has unregistered treatment, storage and disposal facility for the detoxification process for the mill tailings.

19. OceanaGold Philippines Inc, unit of OceanaGold Corp - beset with social issues such as a petition by Nueva Vizcaya province seeking to cancel the company's mining permit; damages to houses allegedly caused by blasting; perceived dangers of underground mining; and preference of the province for agriculture and agro-forest over mining.

20. Adnama Mining Resources Inc - non-compliance with the ISO 14001 requirement and siltation of coastal water due to heavily damaged and improperly maintained causeway.

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

Big mining firms decry audit findings

By: Ronnel W. Domingo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

28 September 2016

LARGE-SCALE miners yesterday decried the results of the audit by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), as eight of them face possible suspension of operation.

Ronald Recidoro, vice president for policy at the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), said in a statement the audit “was done in a punitive manner rather than objectively.”

The eight COMP members that failed the audit are Filminera Resources Corp., Marcventures Mining and Development Corp., Agata Mining Ventures Inc., CTP Construction and Mining Corp., Hinatuan Mining Corp., Benguet Corp., Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., and OceanaGold Philippines Inc.

“Our member-companies will comply with the seven days given them to address the issues raised against their operations,” Recidoro said.

He said the chamber was standing by its member-companies. “We are optimistic that these alleged violations will be addressed properly and in a timely manner.”

The lawyer said there should have been a dialogue between companies and the DENR, considering that the audit was finished in August.

“As early as August, the alleged violations could have already been addressed instead of setting a trap for suspension,” he said.

'Not impartial’

The chamber earlier said the audit was “not totally impartial” due to the presence of antimining civil society organizations in the audit teams.

Still, Recidoro said chamber members with show-cause orders were receptive to the call of Environment Secretary Regina Lopez to dialogue with her office.

Of the 11 companies not facing possible suspension, eight are COMP members, 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.

In a separate statement, Benguet Corp. took exception to the audit findings, which called out the company for the nonrehabilitation of the Antamok open pit.

Benguet Corp said it was continuously exerting efforts to initiate projects, including converting the pit into a bulk water project or a waste-to-energy facility.

“Local government units have in fact requested and endorsed the pursuit of the projects, signing memorandum of agreements with (Benguet) as early as June 2016,” it said.

“While (Benguet) recognizes there was delay in the rehabilitation of the open pit for reasons beyond its control, it has not abandoned it,” it added.


OceanaGold said its Philippine subsidiary had not received any formal order from the DENR, and that it was seeking clarification and details of the audit.

According to the DENR, the suspension of OceanaGold’s project in Nueva Vizcaya was partly due to perceived dangers from underground mining, a petition from locals for the cancellation of financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA), and the preference of the local government for agriculture and agro-forestry over mining.

Mick Wilkes, OceanaGold president and chief executive officer, said that in the meantime, mining and processing activities were continuing at the Didipio mine.

He said OceanaGold intended to “consider all avenues, including working collaboratively with the DENR, to facilitate the immediate resolution of this matter to ensure no disruption to our operations and our valued local workforce.”

“We are disappointed with the statements made earlier [yesterday] and will seek clarification and reconsideration from the DENR to further understand and rectify this matter in short order,” Wilkes said.

“The Didipio mine has a strong social license to operate,” he added. “Our achievements since recommencement of construction in 2011 would not have been achieved without our steadfast commitment to the community and most importantly the strong endorsement from the residents of Didipio and the nine other communities in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.”

SR Metals

SR Metals Inc. (SMRI) said it had not received an official copy of the audit findings.

“We are confident that the two issues raised (by the audit team) particularly access to the provincial road and new municipal resolution will be clarified,” SMRI president Miguel Alberto Gutierrez said.

“We continue to act in accordance with responsible mining,” he added.


In Mankayan town, Benguet province, Joan Gatchelian, information officer of Lepanto, said the company had yet to receive any communication from the DENR regarding the suspension of its operations.

But based on the audit report signed last month by both the head of the DENR audit team and the Lepanto representative, the company had “complied with the provisions of the environmental and mining laws, rules and regulations, thus no penalty [was] recommended by the team,” Gatchelian said.

Xavier Akien, convenor of the Benguet-Abra-Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur Mining Watch, said the group urged the mining firm to drain its tailings dam of excess water to stabilize it before it is shut down. With a report from Kimberlie Quitasol, Inquirer Northern Luzon

Canadian miner's affiliate holds off Philippine IPO plan as mine faces suspension

By Manolo Serapio Jr

29 September 2016

MANILA - A Philippine nickel miner, partly owned by Canada's TVI Pacific Inc, said it has put on hold a plan to list on the local stock exchange after the government said its mine may be suspended for environmental violations.

TVI Resource Development (Philippines) Inc (TVIRD) holds a 60 percent stake in Agata Mining Ventures Inc. Agata's nickel laterite mine on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao is among 20 more mines that the government's environment agency said may be halted. Manila has already suspended 10 mines in an audit over the past two months.

Each of the 20 mines would be given seven days to explain any alleged violations and how to rectify them, before a final decision is made, government officials said on Tuesday.

Suspending another 20 would leave only 11 operating mines in the Southeast Asian country, which accounts for nearly a quarter of the world's mined nickel supply - most of which is shipped to China.

Citing the "uncertain environment in which the Philippine mining industry has operated" since the Department of Environment and Natural Resources launched a mining audit in July, TVIRD said it "has placed all activities relating to its previously proposed listing on the Philippine Stock Exchange and initial public offering (IPO) on hold."

It was not the first time that TVIRD has postponed its IPO plan.

The company, in which Canada's TVI has a 30.66 percent interest, initially planned its Philippine listing in December last year, before moving it to Feb. 29 and later to the second half of this year, citing volatile market conditions.

Private-owned Filipino firm Prime Resource Holdings Inc is the controlling shareholder of TVIRD.

(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)


Doing business with China means mining in PH

By Ben Kritz

29 September 2016

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte may have put his administration’s aspirations in a difficult position with his comments last week that he would seek business in Russia and China as an alternative to investors who are growing nervous about the country’s prospects under his rule.

Duterte’s comments came in the wake of a ratings assessment by Standard & Poor’s, which expressed some mild alarm at the potential for policy instability under his administration. S&P was not actually critical of Duterte, and did note that the Philippine economy, at least from the perspective of sovereign debt management, is for now in sound condition.

The plan to cultivate more business ties with China is sensible; the relationship between the Philippines and China is problematic in some ways, but when it comes right down to it, the two countries need each other as markets, and unless Duterte suddenly decides the Philippines should be the Mouse That Roared – which he is unlikely to do – the friction over maritime claims will probably be limited to just that, friction that serves as an occasional bargaining chip by one side or the other. China is the biggest player in this part of the world, so it would be foolish for the Philippines not to seek a broader economic relationship.

Doing so, however, is going to require some compromises, and one of the biggest will be a retreat from the administration’s anti-mining stance. Duterte chose Gina Lopez to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) precisely because she is an environmental activist and an admitted anti-mining crusader, and she has certainly lived up to her reputation; on Tuesday, the DENR announced that only 11 of the 41 mining firms in the country passed the strict environmental audit ordered by Lopez.

The most significant implication of the virtual shutdown of three-fourths of the mining industry is that it essentially ends nickel mining in the country, at least for the time being. A majority of the 30 mining operations that “failed” the audit – some of which had already been suspended – are nickel operations, and among those that passed, there has not been much production over the last year or more, largely due to low ore prices.

Notwithstanding environmental concerns, nickel production is one of the easiest ways for the country to earn a substantial export income, largely because of Chinese demand for the metal for stainless steel production. A recent move to consolidate a large part of the Chinese steel industry should help to stabilize prices, according to some analysts, and with China’s economy increasingly looking as though it will have a ‘soft landing’ from its slowdown over the past year, the forward-looking prognosis for the steel sector is rather upbeat.

Before Gina Lopez and her campaign to hold the mining industry’s feet to the fire, the Philippines was one of China’s biggest sources of nickel, and it is unfortunate that just when things start looking up for the sector, it has essentially been put out of business.

The other side of the coin, of course, is that environmental concerns cannot be completely ignored. President Duterte himself has strong opinions on environmental protection, and even though many people find Gina Lopez distastefully zealous in her environmental activism, there is something undeniably rational about appointing a committed environmentalist to head the DENR.

If China and its massive appetite for minerals were not part of the picture, the mining industry according to Duterte’s conception of it might be possible: A much smaller sector, operating under extremely tight regulation and exporting little if any of its harvest, instead feeding domestic processing and perhaps even a domestic milling industry.

But China cannot possibly be excluded from the picture. Even if Duterte’s exhortation to develop the country’s own heavy industry sector – meaning steel making and other metal production, making the development of other heavy manufacturing economically viable – was taken seriously, the Philippines does not have the technical competence or resources to build it. The most likely source for those things is China. And Duterte can hardly approach China without the latter assessing what the most valuable gain from a broader trade and economic relationship with the Philippines is, which is minerals – nickel in particular, but also copper, chromite, gold, and even coal.

One way or another, Duterte’s “pivot” towards China is going to run counter to his administration’s environmental policy orientation, at least as far as mining is concerned, because it will result in new mining operations, or the reopening of operations that the administration, through the efforts of DENR’s Lopez, have already judged should be closed. And China, whose environmental record is best described as “appalling,” is unlikely to be of any help to the Philippines in maintaining a sustainable or environmentally responsible mining sector.

That’s going to leave Duterte with a tricky balancing act to manage both politically and economically. For a guy whose dictionary seems to lack words like “delicate,” and “subtle,” that may prove too big a challenge.


Green groups laud ‘political will’ of DENR mining audit

Kalikasan PNE press release

27 September 2016

The recent mining audit spearheaded by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez is a demonstration of what political will can do.

The suspension orders previously slapped by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on seven (7) large-scale metallic mines have been upheld, while 23 other mines have been recommended for suspension and ordered to show cause why their operations should not be suspended.

Among these suspended mines are corporations notorious for violating environmental, land, social, and human rights policies, including five of what we have earlier deemed as the 10 worst big mines, namely Australian-Canadian firm OceanaGold in Nueva Vizcaya, Citinickel Mines in Palawan, DMCI in Zambales, Hinatuan Mining in Eastern Samar, and South African firm Goldfields-Lepanto in Benguet. Another firm, Canadian-owned Filminera Resources, has been recommended for suspension as well.

We in the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) warmly welcome these positive results of Sec. Lopez’s mining audit as a validation of both the long-standing people’s resistance against destructive large-scale mining and its mining liberalization policy, and the marching orders of the Duterte administration to take to task these irresponsible mining corporations.

We see two important revelations brought about by Sec. Lopez’s mining audit. First, the various offenses irresponsible mining companies have gotten away with murder in the past two administrations. The past Arroyo and Aquino administrations have been lax in implementing environmental regulations and has been covering up the violations of big and foreign mining companies.

Second, the alarming fact that some mining companies that are known environmental criminals were able to pass the audit demonstrated how even a maverick pro-environment leadership in the DENR is limited by the very nature of our country’s mining and environmental policies that promotes the opening up of our mineral resources to unfettered, rapacious, and export-oriented extraction.

Philex Mining, for instance, which caused one of the biggest mining disasters in Philippine history back in 2012 but did not sufficiently rehabilitate affected areas and compensate affected communities, passed the audit. Taganito Mining, a notorious polluter in the CARAGA region, also avoided suspension. Both companies are among the ten worst mines we identified.

This stands as a challenge to the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives to support Sec. Lopez’s environmental crusade by finally passing House Bill 2715 or the People’s Mining Bill, a progressive legislation that aims to reorient the mining industry away from mining liberalization and plunder towards a needs-based utilization of mineral resources framed on national industrialization, environmental safety, and people’s rights and welfare.

In the immediate, the people’s environmental and social movements are ready and willing to support the DENR’s audit by supplementing their report with further concrete evidence on the ground. We can work together towards ensuring these erring mining companies that are repeated offenders are held accountable and eventually permanently closed.

Rest assured, the Filipino people will back the Duterte administration if it continues to pursue the people’s environmental agenda.#

Reference: Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator, Kalikasan PNE – 0905 432 5211

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 433 0184 | E-mail: | Site:


Miners Seen Dodging Bullet in Philippine Audit as Nickel Tumbles

Cecilia Yap

4 October 2016

A mining audit in the world’s top nickel supplier that’s raised the possibility of mass closures may prove to be a case of the bark being worse than the bite as producers in the Philippines signal their optimism that sites will remain open. Prices dropped.

Nickel Asia Corp. said its Hinatuan Mining Corp. unit, among those slated for closure unless it fixes shortcomings, remains in operation a week after the audit’s findings and it’s expected to stay that way, according to a statement on Tuesday. Separately, OceanaGold Corp. said its Didipio copper-gold mine is also still in business and talks with officials have been constructive.

“I am highly confident that our Didipio operations will continue to operate without interruption,” OceanaGold President and Chief Executive Officer Mick Wilkes said in an exchange release on Tuesday. Talks include discussions with Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, who’s led the checkup, and the company said it was sticking with full-year production guidance for the site.

The Philippine government said last week that three-quarters of the nation’s mines fell short in the audit ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte, with 20 mines facing suspension on top of 10 already halted. The prospects of significant interruptions to the flow of minerals, especially nickel ore, has helped to lift prices in a market that already faces a deficit. The country accounts for about a quarter of global mined nickel supply.
‘Not Be Suspended’

“We remain confident that HMC’s operation will not be suspended,” Nickel Asia President Gerard Brimo said in a statement, using the initials for Hinatuan Mining Corp. The social and environmental standards being employed at that project are the same standards as the company has at its other operations, which haven’t been targeted for shortcomings, he said.

Nickel lost as much as 1.1 percent to $10,235 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange and was at $10,315 at 3:25 p.m. in Manila, paring its gain this year to 17 percent. Prices surged to as much as $10,900 on Sept. 27 as Lopez presented the list of mines recommended for suspension.

The country’s top miners’ group said Tuesday while there remains a real threat to many companies’ existence, the one-page letters from the environment department to members detailing grounds for suspension often listed administrative matters. These ranged from “small violations” of the mining act to insufficient tree-planting, Ronald Recidoro, vice president for legal and policy at the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, said in an interview.
‘Bend Backward’

More difficult to address within the permitted week-long timeframe were so-called social-acceptability findings, according to Recidoro. “How do you solve that in seven days?” he said. “Right now, we will exert all efforts to work with government. If we can bend backward to fix perceived issues, we will do it.”

Other miners have said they will probably prevail, too. Canada’s TVI Pacific Inc. said last week its Agata nickel mine, which was recommended for suspension, remains in operation and the company is confident it’ll be able to address concerns raised by Lopez. On Friday, Marcventures Holdings Inc. said the audit findings are defensible and can be reversed.

While Deutsche Bank AG raised the possibility this week that nickel may surge to as much as $14,000 a ton in the event of a significant wave of mine closures in the Southeast Asian nation, the bank cautioned that “the magnitude of the rally will, of course, depend on the final outcome” of the environmental audit.

Outlining three potential outcomes for the loss of nickel supply, the bank said in a report there may be symbolic closures totaling 50,000 tons of contained nickel, a more significant scenario with losses of 200,000 tons, and a third possibility, with shutdowns preceding a total ban on unprocessed ore exports.


Mining lobby: DENR suspension pronouncements premature

By James Konstantin Galvez

29 September 2016

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.

Philippines Says Only Quarter of Mines Pass Nationwide Audit

Andreo Calonzo & Cecilia Yap

27 September 2016

The Philippines said about three-quarters of its mining industry is falling short after an environmental audit in the world’s top nickel producer, with 20 mines facing suspension unless they can respond to the shortcomings within days, on top of the 10 already halted. Nickel prices rebounded.

The nickel mines already shut together with those now recommended for suspension accounted for 56 percent of production by value last year, Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno told reporters in Manila on Tuesday. He presented the findings of the checkup at a briefing with Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, saying only 11 mines had passed. The country has 41 metallic mines, mostly nickel, together with suppliers of copper and gold, according to a revised presentation by the government.

“The critical thing is that the resources of the country will be utilized in a way that benefits the greater majority,” Lopez told the briefing. She plans to meet on Thursday with miners that haven’t passed the test before making a final decision on their status, as well as those that did.

Nickel has been the best-performing metal on the Bloomberg Commodity Index this quarter on concern that the audit will disrupt ore shipments as mines are closed, adding to supply pressures in a market bolstered by projections for a global deficit. The Philippines accounts for about a quarter of global mined nickel supply, with most cargoes feeding China’s stainless-steel industry. The probe was ordered by new President Rodrigo Duterte and Lopez in July to check on compliance.

Price Rebound

Nickel rose 1.4 percent to $10,675 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange at 2:58 p.m. in Manila after earlier falling as much as 2.7 percent. Prices surged to $11,030 a ton last month as the audit got under way, the highest in a year, and nickel has outperformed all other metals on the Bloomberg Commodity Index this quarter.

“I want to make it clear, I have no beef against the mining industry but I am against the adverse effects happening in some of the situations,” said Lopez, adding that those recommended for suspension now needed to get their act together. “I want to be better than Canada, better than Australia,’ she said.

The presentation of the audit was light on details addressing the standards on which miners were judged, according to Daniel Hynes, senior commodities strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “My first impressions are that it won’t have much immediate impact, but with no real clarity it would be a bit lax to assume all is going to be OK over the medium or longer term,” he said by phone. “The impact or the potential impact warrants a premium on prices.”

Shares React

In Manila, companies with operations recommended for suspension dropped, while producers outside the country gained. Marcventures Holdings Inc., whose nickel mine in Surigao del Sur province is set for suspension, and Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co. both sank 14 percent. In Hong Kong, Glencore Plc gained as much as 2.4 percent, while Australia’s Independence Group NL added 5.6 percent in Sydney.

Citigroup Inc. had played down the likely impact of the audit in a quarterly commodities report received on Monday even as the bank forecast global nickel deficits through at least 2020. The larger nickel miners probably won’t affected by the closures and may even increase output, according to the bank.

The Philippines’ principal mining group has challenged the legitimacy of the checkup, saying there were anti-industry campaigners among the personnel that assessed suppliers. The teams didn’t act as impartial auditors, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines told Bloomberg last week. At the time, neither Lopez nor Jasareno responded to the claims.

The country produced 467,000 tons of nickel last year, 24 percent of the global mined total of 1.93 million tons, according to a quarterly report from Morgan Stanley. There was a cumulative global deficit 42,500 tons in the first seven months of the year, the International Nickel Study Group said in September.

The Philippines has “kicked the can down the road,” according to a note from Matt France, head of Asia institutional sales for metals at Marex Spectron Group. “No definitive outcome yet but nothing bearish here that I can see.”

Mining audit is tainted—CoMP

Anna Leah E. Gonzales

25 September 2016

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines reiterated its concern over the integrity of the pending results of the mining audit being conducted by the Environment Department due to the “questionable role of anti-mining civil society organizations.”

“We are not questioning the strict implementation of the law. In fact, we welcome a technical, environmental and social development audit of all mining operations. That has been our call for the longest time,” said CoMP vice president Ronald Recidoro. “What we do question is the bias and partiality that was ingrained in the audit review process with the inclusion of anti-mining groups in the audit teams.”

“Their actions have seriously tainted the impartiality of the audit, sending very negative signals not just to legitimate mining projects but even to other industries,” Recidoro added.

Earlier, the Department Environment and Nautral Resources issued a directive requiring the inclusion of third party experts in the audit teams.

CoMP said none of the civil society organization representatives qualified as social development experts and could claim no relevant expertise.

“We find it objectionable that public resources were likely used to transport and billet these private individuals when they are biased against mining and add no technical expertise to the review process,” Recidoro said.

The government earlier conducted an audit on the operations of mining companies in the country. The audit aims to determine which companies are strictly following the laws and guidelines issued by the government.

The results of the mining audit will be announced by Environment Secretary Regina Lopez on Tuesday.

Recidoro said the biggest environmental violators were the illegal miners that produced approximately half of the country’s total gold production.

“We urge the DENR to focus on the bigger and more urgent problem of illegal mining. Government is losing billions every year not just on unpaid taxes and smuggling, but also from the unmitigated destruction of the environment by these illegal miners with no effort towards rehabilitation. In these areas, there is real suffering and unhappiness,” Recidoro said.

Recidoro said responsible mining companies were doing programs and projects well beyond with the compliance rules and regulations of the Philippine Mining Act and other relevant laws.

Philippines Fires Warning as Lopez Tells Miners Audit Is Law

Norman P Aquino & Cecilia Yap

23 September 2016

The Philippines said an audit of the nation’s miners will carry the full force of law and producers that don’t follow findings and recommendations face closure, reinforcing its tough message in a showdown in the top nickel producer that may see mass suspensions.

“They have to follow, because if they don’t they face closure,” Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said in a text message from New York, commenting a day after local suppliers challenged the integrity of the probe ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte. “I am not suggesting things, I am mandating the law.”

Nickel is the best-performing commodity so far this quarter as concern that the Philippine audit will disrupt shipments boosted prices that have already been supported by projections for a global deficit. The nation accounts for about 20 percent of global mined nickel supply, with most cargoes feeding China’s stainless-steel industry. After several delays, the full results of the audit are due for release on Monday.

“We are an island ecosystem that is densely populated, so we cannot afford mistakes,” Lopez said in the text message. The secretary, who’s said the environment agency would recommend further actions on specific mines to ensure they operate at the highest standards, wants an industry that’s better than Canada or Australia’s, she said.

Nickel Gains

Nickel surged to $11,030 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange last month as the audit got under way, the highest in a year, and the metal leads all members of the Bloomberg Commodity Index so far this quarter. Prices -- which jumped 3 percent to $10,660 on Thursday -- erased losses on Friday to trade little changed at $10,655 at 3:18 p.m. in Manila.

The Philippines’ principal mining group has challenged the legitimacy of the audit, saying it’s concerned about how the checks were carried out. The probe was ordered by Duterte and Lopez to ensure suppliers met environmental and welfare standards. Ten mines have been suspended so far, and Lopez said this week more than 10 additional suppliers face closure.

Lopez won’t support move to split DENR

By Marc Jayson Cayabyab

5 September 2016

Environment Secretary Regina Lopez on Monday said she would not support any legislative move to split the agency into separate Departments of Environment and of Natural Resources.

During the appropriations hearing of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) proposed P28.671-billion budget in 2017, Lopez was asked by Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque for her position on the legislative move to split the DENR.

Roque said there seems to be a conflict between the regulatory functions of the department when it comes to protecting environment and the duty to ensure the optimal use of natural resources.

“There seems to be a conflict between that seeks to protect the environment and to promote the ultimate use of natural resources… One hand, you have the mandate to protect the environment, the other hand, the mandate to utilize the resources of the country. Will you be supportive of such legislative initiative to separate Department of Environment and Natural Resources so you won’t have a schizophrenic personality?” Roque asked Lopez.

Lopez said splitting the DENR would not allow the department to make a choice between cracking down on irresponsible mining and ensuring responsible use of resources.

“I believe that the resources of the Philippines should be utilized and enjoyed by the people of the Philippines. It’s all about choices. I don’t support this stand because it does not allow these choices to be made,” Lopez said.

She cited by example the resource-rich Nueva Vizcaya affluent both with fruits and gold.

“You’re saying if we’re going to mine it, then we’re going to mine it. Nueva Vizcaya (has) the big dalandans, rambutans… Nueva Vizcaya also has the best gold in the world. In each area, there are choices,” Lopez said.

“If you divide it, then you’re saying that whatever happens we’re going to mine anyway. So there’s no possibility of making a choice as to the best utilization of the area,” she added.

Lopez said separating the priorities of the DENR in regulating destructive mining and making sure there is efficient use of natural resources would stifle other possibilities for the DENR such as agriculture and ecotourism.

“If you divide it, mining and the use of natural resources, you don’t allow those choices to be made. One you choose mining, you don’t allow the possibility of agriculture and ecotourism to happen,” Lopez said.

“If you choose mining, you don’t allow other possibilities,” she added.

Lopez reiterated her position that she is not anti-mining but only against irresponsible mining that causes suffering to the affected communities.

“I use the computer, the phone, I’m not against the mining industry. What I’m against is the suffering of the people. I’m very much against if the farmers and fishermen suffer, if lives are adversely affected, and some people make a lot of money,” she said.

“We cannot built a world based on suffering,” Lopez added. RAM

‘Better-Than-Canada’ Is Philippine Reform Cry as Mines Shut

Cecilia Yap & Norman P Aquino

21 September 2016

The Philippines deepened a crackdown on its mining industry on Wednesday as world’s top nickel shipper announced it will suspend more than 10 mines in addition to 10 halts that have already been made, saying it wants to surpass Canadian and Australian standards.

The government is finalizing results of an environmental audit and will make recommendations on what companies should do after their suspension, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez told reporters in Manila. She didn’t identify which mines were included in the latest round, with details now due Monday.

The global nickel market has zeroed in on the environmental checkup initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte amid concern that it will constrict the flow of ore to China, the largest metals market. Futures rallied in August to the highest level in a year as the early suspensions took effect, and banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have flagged the potential for further advances. The country has about 40 metallic mines, of which more than half produce nickel.

‘Much Better’

“We should be much better than Canada or Australia because we’re an island,” Lopez told reporters after repeated delays in releasing the audit’s full findings. The Philippines comprises thousands of islands, with most nickel mining found in Palawan in Surigao provinces. “More than 10 mines will be suspended.”

In the runup to Wednesday’s comments, Secretary Lopez signaled there would probably be more suspensions, as well as state support for workers laid off. The country will close more mines including some large-scale operations after the audit, Lopez told reporters on Sept. 5. Earlier this week, she said the government could tell more mines to stop operating.

Nickel futures surged to as much as $11,030 on the London Metal Exchange last month as the audit got under way, with 16 teams fanning out across the country to check on the mines for compliance. On Wednesday, the metal pared losses, trading 0.4 percent lower at $10,265 a ton at 4 p.m. in Manila after losing 1.3 percent earlier.

Goldman’s Warning

Goldman Sachs has warned that further Philippine suspensions may push ore stockpiles to critically low levels. Its base-case outlook assumed a further 15 percent of Philippine supply being halted for six months, following the loss of 10 percent, according to a Sept. 12 note. The bank said refined nickel may surge to $12,000 a ton by year-end.

Mines that are suspended may reopen if they are able to fix shortcomings, according to Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno. The government is optimistic that the drive to clean up the industry will act as lure to stimulate investment, rather than a deterrent, Jasareno told Bloomberg.

Last year, nickel ore shipments from the Philippines totaled 32.3 million tons, down from 33.1 million tons in the year before, according to mines bureau data. Most cargoes go to China to make stainless steel, with the Southeast Asian nation accounting for about 20 percent of global mined nickel output.

Global nickel demand exceeded supply in the first half, with a deficit of 80,800 tons compared with a surplus of 45,200 tons in all of 2015, according to the World Bureau of Metal Statistics. Stockpiles in LME-tracked warehouses have fallen 17 percent to 365,784 tons this year, the lowest since October 2014.

Ahead of more suspensions, Philippine miners question review process

By Manolo Serapio Jr

13 September 2016

MANILA - Philippine miners facing more mine suspensions under an environmental review backed by President Rodrigo Duterte have stepped up their criticism of the process, questioning the inclusion of anti-mining activists in the review teams.

The world's top nickel ore supplier has halted operations of 10 mines, eight of them nickel, for environmental infractions, and the government has said more suspensions will be announced this week.

The crackdown is aimed at enforcing stricter environmental protection measures, with Duterte warning the nation could survive without a mining industry. But miners have labeled the review a "demolition campaign".

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, which groups 21 of the country's 40 metallic miners, said it had "trouble appreciating" the inclusion in mine audit teams of groups such as Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), which translates to Alliance To Stop Mining.

"Why are they part of the audit team when they can hardly be expected to be impartial?" said Chamber spokesman Ronald Recidoro.

"Our members are fairly confident that they have complied with the technical and legal requirements."

ATM groups non-governmental organizations, church groups and academic institutions working to protect Filipino communities and natural resources threatened by large-scale mining operations, according to its website.

The mining industry has powerful opponents in the Philippines, led by the influential Catholic Church, following past environment disasters and the displacement of local communities.


Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez, who has said open-pit mining is madness, said she had committed to involving civic groups in the audit teams along with government experts.

"Miners need to upgrade their operations so that people don't suffer," Lopez told Reuters, adding that issues such as silt build-up on rivers, fishponds and rice fields around mining sites were "unacceptable."

"The problem is that mining here has not followed rules."

ATM's partners in local communities took part in the audit across the country, said Jonal Javier, advocacy officer for the organization. They told the audit team what to look into and submitted the public's complaints against mines, he said.

The suspension of nickel mines in the Philippines and the risk of more closures lifted global nickel prices last month to a one-year high above $11,000 a tonne, although the metal has since eased to just above $10,000 a tonne.

Nickel is used to make stainless steel.

The Chamber's Recidoro said four of its members had been affected and the operations of all four remained suspended despite having addressed environmental violations.

"How long is this suspension? Because an indefinite suspension is tantamount to a cancellation," he said.

The Philippines' top gold mine, run by Australia's OceanaGold Corp's, expects a positive outcome from the audit, chief executive Mick Wilkes told Reuters in an email.

(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Richard Pullin)

Mining stakeholders optimistic on audit results

By Louise Maureen Simeon

The Philippine Star -

10 September 2016

MANILA, Philippines - Mining stakeholders maintained their positive outlook on the results of a government audit on the industry.

The release of the audit findings was originally slated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources yesterday but was moved to Thursday next week.

“It’s done but there is a process. We gave show cause orders to the companies, they answer then we validate and then decide. Next week it should be over,” Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said.

Large mining firms such as Pangilinan-led Philex Mining Corp., Global Ferronickel and Nickel Asia Corp. expect the results to be positive for the sector.

“No word yet from the audit team about the results. Our expectations on the results are high and positive. The audit was an opportunity for Philex to showcase the best practices that it is already doing, to show that we are compliant to current laws and rules and to international standards,” said Francis Ballesteros, Philex Public and Regulatory Affairs head.

“We haven’t heard anything which could be good or bad. It’s best to wait for the final release,” Nickel Asia Corp. said.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) is likewise hopeful that the findings would be fair and anchored on President Duterte’s promise of a clean government.

“That the audit was done with utmost objectivity and findings will be properly transmitted to companies to address gaps in their operations. We continue to abide by transparency, accountability and integrity in all that we do. We expect no less from the DENR,” COMP executive vice president Nelia Halcon said.

Non-government organization Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), on the other hand, expects at least a dozen mining projects to be suspended particularly in the CARAGA region.

“The one-week delay is because DENR wants to be doubly sure of the legal basis for suspension as well as the audit procedure/methods so that its credibility is unquestionable,” ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera told The STAR.

“Our communities and local organizations who participated in the mining audits presented and submitted evidenced of negative environmental impacts, non-compliance with environmental laws and Mining Act provisions, absence of social acceptability from communities and even some local government units,” he said.

Meanwhile, UP National Institute of Geological Sciences director Carlo Arcilla urged Lopez to follow the law in applying justice, especially in sparing the innocent.

“I really hope this audit is just and thorough and that the erring practitioners are punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Assistance planned for mining towns

22 September 2016

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) signed an agreement with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) along with GoNegosyo in a bid to further enhance social development and management programs in mining communities.

“This is a first for the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines. We are empowering communities, empowering individuals, equipping wannabe entrepreneurs with the needed skills and know-how to help them take their businesses to the next level,” COMP president, Benjamin Philip Romualdez said.

The group added that the program aims to help micro, small and medium entrepreneurs in scaling up their businesses thru weekly coaching and mentoring by business owners and practitioners in order to build economic centers beyond the life of the mine sites.

“Beyond the books and seminars, we now embark on one-on-one coaching to address the unique cases of every entrepreneur in the program and on top of that will be the inspiration that the entrepreneurs can derive from the experiences of the mentors,” DTI secretary, Ramon Lopez noted.

Earlier, the COMP also appealed for a meeting with president Rodrigo Duterte for constructive consultations to balance issues that are currently being thrown at the mining industry.

“We appeal to the president to immediately convene a meeting with the industry… for constructive consultations on how to put a balance to the complex issues of mining so that policies moving forward will be based on science and hard facts and not on mere slogans of hard-line ideology. We will send our best experts to help the government unleash the huge mineral potential of the nation and allay unfounded fears that the environment will be neglected,” Romualdez said.

Despite the appeal, he expressed that the industry is very supportive on the audit for all operating mines in the country but called out that what the country is needing are not new mining laws but better implementation of existing laws.

“Our mining laws are globally recognized as one of the best because it already integrates stringent rules on the environment and caring for the local communities. What is needed is strict and fair enforcement of a stable policy regime that promotes the long term stewardship of our environment and natural resources,” Romualdez added.

Suspended mining firms to employ workers for mine rehab — DENR

4 October 2016

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez is allaying fears of massive unemployment if the 20 mining companies that failed to pass the environmental audit are closed.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the workers of suspended mining firms will not end up unemployed as they will be used in the rehabilitation of mine sites.

Rehabilitation was part of the conditions for lifting a suspension order the government and mining executives agreed during a meeting last week.

"A part of the directive, should there be suspension, is that they must hire those people to rehabilitate the mining sites," Lopez said.

The goal is to make sure the workers remain employed despite the suspension of mining operations.

Lopez met with executives of mining companies to propose a much viable sustainable livelihood program that will benefit the communities where they operate.

During the meeting, the Cabinet official presented her models of ecotourism sites to give the mining executives ideas on how to lift communities out of poverty.

Lopez said the DENR could also tap the displaced mine workers for the National Greening Program (NGP), the government's massive forest rehabilitation initiative that doubles as an anti-poverty measure due to its cash-for-work component.

On September 27, the DENR concluded an audit of 41 metallic mining concessions in the Philippines.

The audit results prompted the DENR to recommend the suspension of 20 more mining companies on top of the 10 previously suspended.

But the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines is concerned about the DENR chief's pronouncements regarding the workers of suspended mining companies.

"The alternatives being proposed by Secretary Lopez are simply insufficient compared to the compensation and benefits the miners are currently receiving,"  Ronald Recidoro, vice president for legal and policy of COMP, told GMA News Online.

"More importantly, it is only a band-aid and does not present a sustainable, long-term solution," Recidoro added. He did not elaborate. — Ted Cordero/VDS, GMA News

Suspension of mining firms welcomed by Caraga folk

Erwin M. Mascarinas

28 September 2016

BUTUAN CITY -- Representatives from different groups and organizations in the Caraga Region welcomed the result of the mining audit by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that announced the recommendation for suspension of 15 mining firms operating in the region.

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, together with Undersecretary Leo Jasareno, in an announcement Tuesday, September 27 said 20 mining firms are set to be suspended.

Fifteen of the 20 identified firms have operations in the Caraga Region in the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Island.

Eight firms of the 15 from Caraga Region are operating in the island province of Dinagat, namely: Libjo Mining Corporation, AAM-Phil Natural Resources, Exploration and Development Corporation, Krominco Incorporated, Sinosteel Philippines HY Mining Corporation, Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation, Wellex Mining Corporation, Century Peak Corporation and Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corporation.

Three more of those named by DENR are operating in Surigao del Sur: Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation (MMDC), Carrascal Nickel Corporation, and CTP Construction and Mining Corporation.

Two were named in Surigao del Norte: Hinatuan Mining Corporation and Adnama Mining Resources Incorporated.

Agata Mining Ventures Incorporated and SR Metals Incorporated, both operating in Agusan del Norte were also named.

Dinagat Representative Arlene Bag-ao, meanwhile, lauded the responsiveness of the DENR under the leadership of Lopez saying, the strict enforcement of our environmental laws is a must.

“It is time to finally make and implement a renewed framework on the coexistence of mining, livelihood, people’s participation and conservation. I am confident that the DENR will be at the forefront of this fight. We in Dinagat islands will be right beside them,” Bag-ao added.

Bag-ao pointed out that at present, there are 19 mining companies operating in different parts of Dinagat Island.

“Either there will be an permanent closure or better implementation of environmental protection. If you look closely on this mining operating in the island, mining did not actually generate jobs for the people, only less than 20 percent on the total workforce in the mining industry are from Dinagat, and 80 percent earn their income from farming and fishing or employed in government services. We are looking towards environmental conservation and eco-tourism to create more jobs for our communities but this has to start in the grassroots level,” she said.

Reverend Pio Mercado, spokesperson of the environmental group Caraga Watch likewise lauded the DENR recommendation to suspend the mining firms.

“We commend Secretary Lopez’s leadership and laud the DENR firm recommendation to suspend errant mining companies in Caraga Region, this is a welcome development in the whole environmental protection movement, other companies that who to be monitored should be audited randomly without prior notice,” Mercado said.

Mercado, however, said future audits should include the participation of private and independent technical non-government organization and Civil Society Organization.

Perennial violators should also be permanently closed as these companies has repeatedly violated laws and are bound to violate again, said Mercado.

Emma Hotchkiss, president CCMCL Baywatch Foundation, a local coalition of different environmental and civic-society groups in the towns of Cantilan, Carrascal, Madrid, Carmen, and Lanuza pointed out the need for the closure of mining firms.

“This is MMDC’s second suspension within two years for environmental laws violations, thus the cancellation of their MPSA which is expiring on 2018 should be considered. This is not entirely their fault but also the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) altogether for not citing and reporting their violations as they occurred.

MMDC’s Mineral Production Sharing Agreement was located in the Carac-an Watershed Forest Reserves consisting of four river systems and one waterfall system that will be utilized as a mini-hydro plant. The other river system is our source of water used for irrigation and household purposes,” Hotchkiss said.

Hotchkiss said officials of the DENR, MGB and EMB in the region who allow violations of environmental laws should also be held accountable.

Residents in Sta. Cruz, Zambales predict mining companies will fail in the mining audit

CEC Philippines press release

22 September 2016

Sta. Cruz, Zambales – Residents of Sta. Cruz, Zambales, under the alliance, Move Now! gather to await the results of the mining audit by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources under Secretary Gina Lopez, and prepare for the first year commemoration of the tragic impact of mining and Typhoon Lando. “If the DENR-MGB are doing their job with due diligence, we are confident that these mining companies in Sta. Cruz will fail in the mining audit. We are living testaments of the ill effects of their mining operations,” said Cristeta Sison of Move Now!, which is a multi-sectoral alliance of organizations in Sta. Cruz.

October 18, 2015 is an unforgettable day for the residents of Sta. Cruz. Typhoon Lando (international name: Koppu) did not only bring heavy rains and strong winds. With it came reddish mudflows, cut tree debris from the mine sites. Residents associate these with the mine waste from the mine sites that were located or intersecting with the rivers that flow downstream. The mudflows ran down to the rivers and into their homes, agricultural lands, fish ponds and out into the ocean.

Houses and property sustained heavy damages. But the effects most felt were the damage in the sources of livelihood. According to the National Fact Finding and Solidarity Mission conducted by the Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines on November 2015, the flood destroyed the crops and left red mud in fields that in some areas were up to 10 inches thick. The fishponds overflowed and in some cases were recorded to have been left with at least an inch of red mud. This caused great suffering to the communities since it destroyed the season’s harvest. According to residents, with nothing to harvest, they also had no capital for the next season. Worse, the thick mud residue has made it more difficult to plow again the rice fields and to restore the fishponds.

The residents have never seen such damage even after stronger typhoons hit the town, before the mining operations started in 2006. This prompted the residents to barricade against mining in Barangay Bayto, Uacon, and the latest in Acoje wherein the operations are threatening their source of water.

“The mining operations made our communities more vulnerable to disasters. We know that these mining companies will fail because the sufferings we experienced after the Typhoon Lando prove that they do not have enough measures to protect the people, their livelihood and the environment,” added Sison.

The residents also shared their sentiments about the mining audit conducted stating that they hoped they had more participation in the process since they are the primary stakeholders in the issue. According to Sison, “We would have wanted the mining audit to hear out the people more.  Mining has impacted not only the mine sites but the whole town, the environment and our people.  We demand justice and rehabilitation of destroyed houses, livelihood, ricefields, coastal area, irrigation and fishponds. Nothing less.” Among the 10 suspended mining companies, 4 were operating in Sta. Cruz namely, Benguet Nickel Mining Corporation (BNMI), LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. (LAMI), Eramen Minerals Inc. (EMI) and Zambales Diversified Minerals Inc. (under DMCI). ###

Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines
26 Matulungin Street, Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100
+632 920 9099 |

Gordon probes Zambales mining, soil smuggling

By Camille P. Balagtas

21 September 2016

THE Senate blue ribbon committee conducted Wednesday its maiden hearing on the mining operations in Zambales and the alleged smuggling of Philippine soil used by China to build its man-made islands in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Senator Richard Gordon who heads the committee expressed suspicion over the amount of soil being delivered by mining companies to China in view of the fact that nickel ore is currently at low trajectory.

"That much land that came out, that much earth that came out. Could it be that they know something that we do not? Or at least some of us do not? Or some of us know but most of us do not," Gordon said.

Low-grade nickel ore is sold starting from $10 per ton, while high-grade nickel ore is sold at $22 per ton.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials also disclosed that before the West Philippine Sea dispute came about, China tried to enter into an agreement with the Philippines for the exploration of REE (rare earth elements).

Gordon sought more comprehensive data on all mining operations that go to China that involving extraction that are not processed.

"It's the destruction of the environment...I would like to know how many operations like these are happening – mining operations or buying of sands or whatever that is going to China. It is important for us to safeguard our national interest," Gordon said. (Sunnex)

Benguet mining firm insists it passed environment audit

by: Northbound Philippines News Online

8 October 2016

MANKAYAN, Benguet – Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation (LCMC), one of the country’s 20 mining companies recommended to suspend its operation, declared there was no reason to do so, insisting it passed the environment audit conducted by the Department of Energy and Natural Resources.

Bryan Yap, President and Chief Operating Officer of the mining giant, said they have not received from the DENR any official communication on said suspension. “We have complied with all relevant laws and regulations and we passed the (environment) audit ordered by the DENR which, in our case, was completed on August 14, 2016,” he said

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has recommended the suspension of the operation of the mining firms following the completion of its audit of mining companies all over the country. Two mining firms in the province, LCMC and Benguet Corporation, were included in the list.

The DENR audit or environment assessment tests include issues on siltation, dust, no tree-cutting permits, and unsystematic mining methods.

At least seven days were given to the affected mining firms to respond to the official order on suspension of their operations, which was announced on the last week of September.

Yap disclosed that since the announcements were made, they have received numerous inquiries and expressions of concern from numerous stakeholders on the status of operations.

“ We have to make this explanatory report to these stakeholders, namely our worried employees, our communities, our stockholders and investors, our retirees, our partners and partner banks and our service and goods providers,” he said.

Established in 1936, LCMC is the country’s primary producer of gold, copper and silver, employing thousands both in the surface and underground operations.

Yap reiterated that Lepanto did more than produce copper, gold and silver. “We helped build Mankayan into a first class municipality as, we have been dutifully paying our taxes for the last 80 years, a good corporate citizen and a caring partner to the community.”

It was learned that Lepanto has a 60% interest in Far Southeast Gold Resources, Inc. which owns the Far Southeast Project, a world-class, high-grade gold and copper porphyry deposit. It is looking to develop the Far Southeast Project through a partnership with Gold Fields Limited of South Africa, one of the biggest gold miners in the world.

Yap stressed that Lepanto will continue to uphold its legacy of responsible mining. Thom

Lakbayan2016: North Luzon indigenous people march to demand permanent closure of mines, audit of energy projects

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

13 October 2016

MAKATI CITY—Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) joined 300 indigenous people from the regions of Northern Luzon to open the ‘Lakbayan ng mga Pambansang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Kapayapaan’ (Caravan of National Minorities for Self-Determination and Just Peace) today with a series of picket protests the offices of mining and energy companies threatening their lands and environment.

“The Lakbayan’s opening salvo of protests is aimed at big businesses like the Lepanto and OceanaGold mines that continue to encroach into indigenous people’s lands. These companies exemplify the destructive and plunderous nature of corporations and were recently recommended for suspension by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez. Their track record of causing pollution and harm against people and the environment deserves nothing less than permanent closure,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Lepanto, the local partner of South African mining giant Goldfields, lies in the heart of the Cordillera region, historically the host to the biggest number and scale of large-scale mining operations in the country. The Canadian-Australian firm OceanaGold, meanwhile, is nested in the Caraballo mountain range in Nueva Vizcaya, an importance source of freshwater river systems.

“Lepanto was recommended for suspension only due to their mine tailings treatment, storage, and disposal facility being unregistered, their low performance in tree planting, and alleged accidents in their mining operations. But it has continuously dumped its tailings into the Abra River over the past decade, affecting various downstream communities,” explained Bautista.

“Meanwhile, the opposition of local communities and LGUs to OceanaGold was the main basis for DENR’s recommendation to suspend their mine. This proves that the people’s resistance, especially the indigenous people’s defense of their right to self-determination, is the strongest protection against mining plunder. The basis of the Novo Vizcayanos’ resistance against OceanaGold is anchored on scientific findings of water pollution and a long string of land grabs and human rights violations,” Bautista furthered.

The protesters said they were willing to cooperate with the DENR in building sound cases for the permanent closure of these destructive projects, and also pledged to strengthen their resistance to these companies.

They also raised concerns over impending 'development aggression' projects such as energy development projects that have yet to be covered by the DENR's audit.

“We also call on the DENR to prioritize energy projects encroaching into ancestral domains and critical ecosystems in their continuing audit of various projects. Destructive projects such as the geothermal exploration of Chevron in Kalinga and the proposed Alimit Dam of SN Aboitiz Power in Ifugao are being pursued without due consideration of environmental integrity and the indigenous people’s rights over their ancestral domains,” ended Bautista.#

Reference: Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator, Kalikasan PNE – 0905 432 5211

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 433 0184 | E-mail: | Site:

Oceanagold in 'constructive' dialogue with Philippines govt over Didipio

Edwin Mitson

4 October 2016

Oceanagold Corp, the NZX-listed gold miner, has told investors it's engaged in what it terms "constructive" dialogue after the Philippines government named its Didipio site as among mining operations that could be suspended because of outstanding social issues.

Melbourne-based Oceanagold was among 23 mining companies named at a press conference given by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources secretary Gina Lopez and head of mining audit, Leo Jasareno last month.

The company extracted 90,887 ounces of gold and 12,244 tonnes of copper in the first half of the current financial year from Didipio, amounting to 40% of total production. Profit soared 174% gain in first-half profit, reflecting a recovery in the price of gold and increased production.

In a statement to the stock market, Oceanagold said it had engaged directly with Ms Lopez and other senior officials, "to gain clarity on the findings identified with respect to the Didipio operation."

Speaking from Manila, chief executive Mick Wilkes said he was "highly confident that our Didipio operations will continue to operate without interruption as the mine sets the benchmark for responsible mining based on international best practices."

The site continues to operate without interruption and the company said it maintained its production and cost guidance for 2016.

The company operates the Macraes and Reefton mines in the South Island. Last year it acquired the Waihi mine from Newmont Mining Corp and it is also developing the Haile mine in the US, where commercial production is slated to start in early 2017.

Shares in Oceanagold rose 5.7% to $4.45 and have risen 49.8% since the start of the year. Shares were trading at $4.14 prior to the publication of its statement.

Nueva Vizcaya governor calls for unity vs mining projects

by Philippines News Agency -

24 October 2016

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—Gov. Carlos Padilla has called on villagers affected by mining projects to unite and be vigilant against its negative effects in the province.

He said affected villagers in Barangay Didipio in Kasibu town should join hands with the provincial government in its continuing effort to stop the mining operations of OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (OGPI).

He made the call during a recent dialogue with Didipio villagers at the Nueva Vizcaya Pasalubong Center in Barangay Magsaysay here.

Padilla also doused the villagers’ fear of the alleged boundary dispute between Barangay Didipio and Quirino province.

“OGPI was just using this issue as a legal ground to stop their payment of their real property tax [RPT] in the previous years,” he said.

OGPI recently paid the provincial government more than P67-million RPT covering 2015 and 2016, but the RPT in 2013 and 2014 remained unsettled due to an interpleader case filed in court.

“It was surprising to know why they filed the case in order to be clarified whether to pay their taxes in Nueva Vizcaya or Quirino because of an alleged boundary dispute when, in fact, they secured all the required documents in the province before they were starting their project,” Padilla said.

According to Padilla, villagers in Didipio should not believe the allegations of OGPI on the boundary dispute because there was no case filed yet.

“If there is a boundary dispute, it should be settled first in the barangay level and goes to the municipal and provincial for possible settlement before it will be filed eventually in court,” Padilla said.

Vizcaya tribes support mining firm expulsion

By Thom F. Picana

11 October 2016

BAGUIO CITY: Tribal folk from Nueva Vizcaya and Ifugao picketed the gates of the open pit mining site of Oceana Gold Philippines Inc. (OGPI) in Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya calling for the company’s expulsion from the Philippines and El Salvador.

Led by SAPAKKMMI Didipio, Amianan Salakniban, Green Youth, Ifugao Peasant Movement, TIMEQ–Quirino and Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo-Vizcayanos para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK), the protesters marched along Sitio Boulevard to the gates of OceanaGold chanting the mining giant’s violations to the indigenous villages and their environment.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recommended the suspension of Oceana Gold after an industry-wide audit in August.

“We are here to express our calls to the company and to the community of Didipio that this fight is not just our fight. This is a fight of all the people of the world against corporate greed,” En Ramel of ANNVIK said.

The international protest action was held in coordination with anti-mining groups from the Philippines, El Salvador, Canada, the US and Australia, following the scheduled verdict of the World Bank tribunal on the case of Pacific Rim/OceanaGold vs. El Salvador this month.

The environmentalist group Kalikasan said that for seven years, an El Salvadoran social movement has been fighting to stop Pacific Rim (renamed OceanaGold) mining corporation from opening a gold mine in Cabañas, El Salvador, including their battle against a $300 million lawsuit for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

OceanaGold used unjust investment laws under pro-corporate trade agreements to sue El Salvador in 2009 for not approving its mining permit, Kalikasan added.

Through similar actions worldwide, the anti-mining groups demand that the World Bank immediately release a favorable decision that will vindicate the people of El Salvador and allow their government to recover all legal expenses, Kalikasan said.

They also call for OceanaGold to immediately discontinue all of its operations in El Salvador.

Meanwhile, OceanaGold’s share price was reported hammered down at 19 percent after its suspension was recommended. The mines produce 40 percent of the multi-national mining company’s gold and 30 percent of its copper.

Didipio audit report finds miner complies with law

By Jonathan Underhill -

18 October 2016

Oceanagold Corp, the NZX-listed gold miner, says an audit of its Didipio mine by the Philippines' Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) found it was in compliance with its permits but must do more to communicate with stakeholders.

Melbourne-based Oceanagold was among 23 mining companies named at a media conference given by DENR secretary Gina Lopez and head of mining audit Leo Jasareno last month that could have operations suspended because of outstanding social issues. Since then the company has said it's engaged in "constructive" dialogue after the Philippines government, including the DENR officials.

"The findings in the audit report relate mostly to a need to further educate a broader group of stakeholders on specific aspects of the operations," chief executive Mick Wilkes said in a statement. "The vast majority of recommendations relate to the need to further expand the company’s information, education and communication program." He said concerns raised at the DENR media conference last month "were not included as findings outlined in the audit report".

The company didn't release the report itself. Among the findings it did cite were "illegal artisanal small scale mining activities" in the Didipio area "that contribute to the degradation of the immediate environment and waterbodies" and a recommendation for government agencies to crack down on that.

Wilkes says the company has seven days to address the report's findings and recommendations. "I am very confident that our responses to the DENR will satisfy all of the findings and recommendations that have been raised," he said.

Lopez was quoted in the Philippines Star in August as saying she would look into complaints of several environmental groups regarding corrupt officials at DENR. Protesters had come from mining-affected communities including from the Nueva Vizcaya region where the Didipio Gold and Copper mine is located.

The company operates the Macraes and Reefton mines in the South Island. Last year it acquired the Waihi mine from Newmont Mining Corp and it is also developing the Haile mine in the US, where commercial production is slated to start in early 2017.

Shares in Oceanagold rose 7.2 percent to $4.19 and have gained 49 percent this year.


Oceana Gold Lay-offs Contractuals

SAPAKKMMI press release

9 October 2016

BAYOMBONG, NUEVA VIZCAYA  - SAPAKKMMI Didipio denounce the sudden lay-off of seven (7) contractual employees of one of Oceana Gold’s contractors yesterday, October 10, following a successful peaceful protest action by the community and its supporters against the company.

The layed-off workers are Feliza Pugong, Rey Batago, Randy Baguilat, Nelson Leon, Jimmy Puguon, Sadam Angayon and Emilia Vinluyan. Four of them are members of Delta Earth Moving Employees Labor Union (DEMELU). All of them are from Didipio and adjacent barangays, where Oceana Gold and its contractors should get majority of their employees from.

According to Brgy. Councilor Celia Bahag, the workers came to her asking for her help because the company gave unacceptable reasons for their dismissal. One was dismissed because of just overtaking another hauler truck. The others were because the company said they need to lay-off.

“Many workers are complaining of the unfair treatment of the company towards its workers. Originally, they should hire more Nueva Vizcaya people because it’s what they promised us. But now, while they lay-off most of our residents, they are hiring new ones from outside the province to replace them,” Bahag said.

“We think it is union-busting because most of them are from the union of employees, DEMALU. We urge DILG Secretary Joel Maglunsod and President Duterte to look into this because we believe more are yet to lose their jobs due to unfair reasons, “Bahag added.

For more information: Contact Brgy. Kagawad Celia Bahag #09068618140.

Green Groups laud DENR suspension of OceanaGold, Didipio wants Company Permanently Closed

News Release

30 September 2016

Green groups covering Nueva Vizcaya rejoiced in the DENR recommendation for suspension of Oceana Gold Philippines Incorporated (OGPI) last week. After over two decades of battle against mining in Didipio, the anti-mining community saw a silver lining in their struggle against a giant company plundering their resources.

Amianan Salakniban, the northern Luzon environment and human rights network, Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayanos para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK), and Samahang Pangkarapatanng mga Katutubong Magsasaka at Mangagawa Inc. (SAPAKKMMI ) are grateful with the decision and calls for the DENR to proceed in permanently closing OGPI’s operation.

“During the audit, we were very disappointed because the team seems biased on the side of the company. But when this good news arrived, all of us rejoiced in the barangay,” Celia Bahag, a barangay councilor and board member of SAPAKKMI said. “We have been fighting mining in our community for so long. We now see a glimpse of hope that our environment and our livelihoods have a chance to be saved.”

A few days after the announcement, OGPI immediately released a statement defending their company from the DENR. They bragged their awards to prove their operations were adhering to international environmental and sustainability standards. Even the Australian Embassy posted “world class miner: hash tags about the company to boosts its company propaganda

“They say they are responsible miner according to whoever. But for us who suffer from the destruction they brought to our community, these awards mean nothing,” Erenio Bobola, a board member of SAPAKKMI said. “To those who gave them the awards, we challenge them to drink the water from the rivers Oceana Gold polluted. We encourage them to live with us and experience the heart pounding blastings that we suffer from everyday. Then they decide whether this Oceana Gold is responsible or not.”

Despite this positive government pronouncement, residents still call for the immediate stoppage of OGPI’s operations. They vow to continue their protests actions until the suspension will be implemented and the terms of the Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) with the Government is cancelled.

“We will still continue our actions, we will still file charges, we still call for them to rehabilitate our land and fulfill their promises in the memorandum of agreement with the community. It is their responsibility since they got massive profit from our land,” Bahag said.

It was earlier reported that Oceana Gold bagged $39.7-million profit in just the first half of the year.

Aside from the DENR’s exemption of Philex mines, Amianan Salakniban commends the DENR for the suspension of several mines in North Luzon especially Lepanto and Oceana Gold.

 “We hope that these suspensions will proceed to the cancellation of their permits and their total stoppage. As long as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 is still in place, these companies will make their way using the law to return back to their previous operations which are destructive and anti-people, especially indigenous peoples, “ Fernando Mangili , spokesperson of Amianan Salakniban said.

“The PMA 1995 should be repealed and replaced with the pro-people and pro-environment Peoples’ Mining Bill already filed in congress by various peoples organizations and progressive politicians,” Mangili added.

Under the PMB, the mining industry will be reoriented from being profit oriented and insufficiently regulated towards an orientation based on people’s needs, environmental safety, and genuine national industrialization and development.

Mr. Fernando Mangili
Co-Convenor/ Spokesperson
Amianan Salakniban

OceanaGold starts drilling program to increase confidence in Didipio mine

19 September 2016

MELBOURNE-BASED OceanaGold Corp. said it has started a drilling program to advance underground resource development in its Didipio mine in Nueva Vizcaya province.

“In the Philippines, an infill and resource extension drill program designed to increase confidence in the underground Didipio resource and test for depth extensions below the current mine design has commenced this month,” OceanaGold said in a statement last week, adding that the firm expects to drill some 50,000 meters underground.

The Australian miner said early stage exploration under its Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), which covers six priority targets, is “well advanced” in terms of geological mapping, surface rock chip sampling, infill and expanded grid soil surveys, and detailed ground magnetic surveys, in order to ”better define and prioritize drill targets.”

“Exploration drilling is scheduled for this quarter,” OceanaGold added.

Mining of Stage 5 of the open pit was completed during the second quarter, putting the Australia-listed company on track to meet its target of starting production from the underground development by the end of next year.

Earlier this year, OceanaGold received the government’s nod to extend its exploration permit (EP) around its mine site for five years. This allowed the company to resume exploration activities at the mine until its EP expires in 2021.

Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez had earlier threatened to revoke the firm’s exploration permit in response to civil society groups’ allegations that OceanaGold’s exploration program poses a danger to the agricultural lands straddling its mining tenement.

However, Jose P. Leviste, chairman of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., said the firm has not received any official advisory ordering the cancellation of its EP.

“According only to the anti-mining NGOs. We trust the sense of fairness of Sec. Gina Lopez and the ‘progressionalism’ of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources). Furthermore, we support President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for responsible mining,” he said in a mobile text message.

By end-June of this year, OceanaGold has seen output of 225,339 ounces of gold and 12,244 tons of copper from the Didipio mine, its lone copper-producer.

It aims to finish this year with production levels at 385,000 to 425,000 ounces of gold from the combined New Zealand and Didipio operations and 19,000 to 21,000 tons of copper at all-in, sustaining costs of $700 to $750 per ounce.

A multinational gold producer, OceanaGold has assets in the Philippines, New Zealand, and the United States where it is currently constructing the Haile gold mine in South Carolina and is slated for commercial production early 2017. -- Janina C. Lim

Duterte wants pro-Philippine law on mining

Barbara Mae Dacanay, Correspondent

Gulf News -

1 October 2016

Manila: President Rodrigo Duterte wants a pro-Philippine mining law after the environment department has closed 30 mining firms and allowed 11 of 41 mining companies to continue operating while undergoing audit on minor environment infraction, sources said.

“Duterte has called for the amendment of the Mining Act of 1995, to include a 60-40 per cent profit sharing between the Philippine government and foreign mining firms with mining permits,” geologist Rolando Pena told Gulf News, adding it was patterned after the production-sharing agreements reached by the Philippine government and oil firms allowed to explore oil in the Philippines.

Duterte also wanted taxes higher than the existing 2 per cent of gross for metallic and non-metallic minerals extracted in the Philippines, said Pena.

“Duterte is planning to nationalise the mining industry and has promised to push for the passage of the People’s Mining Bill of 2013,” said Congressman Carlos Zarate of Bayan, a sectoral party at the House of Representatives.

The Mining Act of 1995 allows foreign ownership of mining assets and exploration permits, a provision upheld by the Supreme Court as Constitutional in 2004.

The closure of 30 mining firms because of infractions in environment protection after an audit that began in July was the recent squeeze on the mining industry.

On September 27, the environment department asked 20 mining firms to stop operating unless their proposed rectifications to protect the environment are approved for a final review in early October. They accounted for 18 million tonnes of ore, or 55.5 per cent of the country’s nickel production.

Last July, the environment department initially closed 10 mining firms which represented 10 to 12 per cent of the country’s mineral production.

The 11 mining firms that were allowed to operate represent 25 per cent of the world’s total nickel production.

Initial squeezes on the mining industry already began in 2010, when former President Benigno Aquino issued an Executive Order that banned the issuance of new mining permits. It affected 1,828 mining applications at the time.

Aquino also called for 5 per cent royalty tax for mining permits in mining reservations, increased filing fee charges; and synchronised local and national regulations of the mining industry. Congress did not pass laws to implement these proposals.

About 30 million hectares of land in the Philippines has an estimated $1.4 trillion (an earlier estimate was $840 billion) worth of reserves in aluminium, chromite, copper, and gold. Metal deposit is estimated at 21.5 billion metric tonnes; non-metallic deposits, 19.3 billion metric tonnes.

About 999 approved mining applications cover only one million hectares of lands.

Philippine minerals exported to Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, United States, and the United Kingdom earned $3.2 billion in 2010, $4 billion in 2015.

Policy on downstream mining industries due by year’s end

20 October 2016

AN OFFICIAL recommendation on the feasibility of setting up downstream ore processing facilities in the Philippines will be drawn up by the end of the year, according to the chief of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

“We have held initial meetings... before the end of the year, we promise to have a recommendation on how we should proceed,” said MGB Concurrent Director Mario Luis J. Jacinto, speaking to reporters.

The MGB is consulting industry stakeholders and other agencies to consider the country’s sustainable level of ore volume and its competitiveness in the context of ASEAN integration.

Mr. Jacinto, who is also an undersecretary of the Environment department, noted that local processing of ore adds value to the Philippine mining industry’s output. “The question is what are the requirements to put it in place,” he added.

One of the agencies involved in the drafting of the recommendation is the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The DTI, which is also preparing the six-year Philippine Development Plan, has completed the road map for copper and is in the process of completing road maps for gold and nickel as well as a long-term plan for iron.

Earlier, House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez said that a bill requiring mining firms to process or semi-process their ores before these commodities can be exported will be a priority for the government.

Sen. Paolo Benigno A. Aquino filed a bill seeking to halt the export of unprocessed mineral ores, as a way to attract more investment and generate more income for the extractive industries.

Indonesia, which accounts for about 15% of global ore supply, imposed a ban on its ore exports in 2014. Top nickel importer China turned to the Philippines to meet its demand.

The MGB reported that during the first half of 2016, the total value of metal mine production fell 13.59% year-on-year to P48.25 billion due to the suspension of some mining operations and sluggish metal prices.

So far, the Environment Department has suspended 10 metal mines and recommended 20 others for suspension after a nationwide audit that aimed to weed out miners with poor environmental management practices.

The suspended mines made up 55.5% of the country’s total nickel output last year. -- Janina C. Lim

Crackdown on illegal mines cheered

By: Ronnel W. Domingo

Philippine Daily Inquirer -

20 October 22016

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) Wednesday welcomed an anticipated crackdown by the Ombudsman on illegal mines following a move against illegal dumpsites.

“(The COMP has) always called for stricter measures in going against illegal miners as these are the ones who do not contribute to the economy of the country and do the most damage to the environment,” the group’s vice president, Ronald Recidoro, said in a statement.

Recidoro was referring to a statement by Environmental Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera, who said that after focusing on closing illegal dumpsites, the Office of the Ombudsman is also setting its sights on moving against illegal mining, logging and fishing activities.

He said the mining industry remained the biggest contributor to the government’s National Greening Program, under which 20 million trees were planted from 2011 to 2014.

Citing data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Recidoro said the mining industry’s contribution to reforestation efforts in the country had already covered an estimated 48,000 hectares.

“Members of the (COMP) are covered by a strict edict to safeguard our people, the country’s interests and the environment,” he said. “We will continue to adhere to the tenets of responsible mining and support efforts of government to weed out the irresponsible miners who conduct their business without regard for the law.”

Earlier this month, the MGB announced the nomination of 23 mine operators—including some that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ audit teams recommended for suspension—for the Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award.

The PMIEA is given out yearly to mining companies that “showed exemplary practices in safety and health; environmental protection and rehabilitation; and community and social development and management.”

Executive Order No. 399 issued in 1997 established the PMIEA “in compliance with the policy that mineral exploration and mining operation shall be pro-environment and pro-people,” the MGB said.

Among the nominees for the surface mining category were operators of mines that were recommended for suspension. These include Agata Mining Ventures Inc. (nickel in Agusan del Norte); Hinatuan Mining Corp. (nickel in Eastern Samar); Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. (nickel in Surigao del Sur); OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (copper-gold in Nueva Vizcaya); and SR Metals Inc. (nickel in Agusan del Sur).


25 October 2016

GENEVA — The Philippine government bared its efforts to address mining issues, preserve cultural diversity, and uphold the rights of indigenous peoples, children, women and workers, during a dialogue with the United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights last September 2016.

According to National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Deputy Director-General Rosemarie G. Edillon, who headed the Philippine delegation, the Philippines is pursuing a two-track strategy for mitigating the adverse effects of irresponsible mining. First is the comprehensive audit of mining sites, and second, the review of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, which covers revenue-sharing to favor affected communities, rehabilitating areas affected by disasters due to mining operations, identifying “No-Go Zones,” and issuing liability insurance to cover damages in mined-out and identified impact areas.

“The Philippines accords special attention to the plight of its indigenous peoples (IPs)—the sector that is most affected by the mining industry. We are thus continually seeking to empower our IPs and communities through consultation processes, and in exercising the principle of free, prior, and informed consent.”

“By engaging our IPs, we hope to strengthen the implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, which mandates the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to act on cases involving the violation of the rights of indigenous peoples,” she added.

Moreover, Edillon talked about efforts of the government to promote cultural heritage and diversity. One initiative, among many, is the National Endowment Fund for Culture and the Arts, which disbursed PhP602.6 million in 2015 for art festivals, publications and documentation, research and development, and restoration and preservation of cultural heritage.

The Philippine delegation also affirmed its commitment to protecting and strengthening the family, drawing special attention to women and children.

“Actions are being taken on bills that aim to amend the Family Code, underscoring the need for more equality in the family decision-making process. The new administration has vowed to protect women’s rights, and also called for the full implementation of the Philippine Magna Carta of Women down to the barangay level,” Edillon said.

According to her, the Anti-Rape Law of 1997 is also undergoing legislative scrutiny to be more responsive to the realities that confront rape and potential rape victims.

Furthermore, the Philippines presented to the Committee its efforts to stop human trafficking. From 2010-2016, the convictions in trafficking in persons (TIP) increased eight times in number. The average trial duration of TIP cases has also     been significantly reduced from five years to two years.

Last November 2015, the Philippines led the negotiations towards adopting the ASEAN Convention in Trafficking in Persons (ACTIP) and its accompanying Regional Plan of Action for the year 2016-2020.

Meanwhile, on workers’ rights, Edillon said that the Philippine government has already completed the Human Resource Roadmap for 2016-2022, which contains labor supply and demand information, as well as strategies for improving human resource competitiveness.
“The Philippines highly values decent work as a means to spur collective development and progress. This is crucial as we address concerns of unemployment and underemployment in the Philippines such as skills shortage and job mismatch,” Edillon said.

She also mentioned the amended Migrant Workers Act, which provides for integrated support services for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), a 24/7 assistance facility for them in host countries, and a reintegration program for returning OFWs.

The recently concluded dialogue with the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is part of a regular review of the 164 states that ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

It held its 59th session last September 28-29 in Geneva, Switzerland.

No Coal goal, harness alternative energy source — Scientist group

AGHAM press release

23 September 2016

Scientist activist group AGHAM - Advocates of Science and Technology for the People cautioned against President Rodrigo Duterte’s eagerness in promoting coal to augment power supply instead of harnessing the rich alternative energy resources of the country. AGHAM says the President wrongly projects coal power  as a solution to the power deficiency as it has been proven to be the worst source of pollutive energy, becoming outmoded due to its adverse environmental and health impacts.

“President Duterte’s presence in the inauguration of a coal-fired power plant in Misamis is giving a wrong signal on how to develop the power industry. Coal, a non-renewable energy source, should not be promoted as the answer to the power shortages and high electricity rates that we are facing because in our experience it leaves us excessive carbon emissions, dirty air, polluted lands and rivers, and other negative impacts to the country,” said Finesa Cosico, Secretary-General of AGHAM. “The existing coal power plants, which are all controlled by private and foreign corporations, did not result to lower electricity rates but to the contrary. It also increased our energy vulnerability to outside sources as coal is 90% dependent from foreign supply,” she added.

Owned by the Gotianun-led Filinvest Development Corporation through FDC Misamis Power Corp. (FDC Misamis), the power generation facility with a 405-megawatt capacity was built to address the power deficit in Mindanao and make the hydropower-dependent region insusceptible to shortages caused by droughts.

“We reiterate that we should be wary of using pollutive energy sources such as coal as it will be deleterious for the country in the long run. We should immediately make use of our enormous indigenous and renewable energy resources, but at the same time we should not treat this shift as an end-all solution to the power crisis,” explained Cosico.

According to the group, the power deficiency and excessive electricity rates are rooted in the privatized nature of the power industry. They noted how the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, in a bid to deregulate the power generation industry by opening it to free competition, has surrendered government control over the power industry to the private and foreign corporations and has put us under the whims of private corporations that seek to make profit over providing service to the people at the expense of the health and the environment.

Despite its proven environmental impact, the proponents of the coal power plants are into greenwashing, making the public believe the myth of producing “clean coal” through the circulating fluidized bed (CBF) technology. CBF enables coal plants to burn low grade coal which is abundant in the country. However, low grade coal contains large amounts of moisture and less energy, thus, generating more pollution than foreign high grade coal. Using CFB and other ‘state-of-the-art’ machinery only means that we are strengthening our country’s reliance on foreign technology despite the unreliability of such to function as it claims,” said Cosico.

Recounting the Davao Therma South power station owned by Aboitiz Power, Cosico narrated how a coal plant in Davao which also uses CFB experienced at least 5 shutdowns since it started commercial operations last January 2016 causing region-wide blackouts in Mindanao: proof that having the latest technology does not automatically translate to a stable power supply.

“Ownership of the power generation plant, not the level of technology or the type of energy source, is the decisive factor in ensuring a stable power supply. Time and again it has been proven that the private sector cannot solve the power crisis. A privately-owned plant dependent on a pollutive energy source is a double burden for the Filipino people: a false solution to the power crisis and a threat to our environment,” said Cosico.

The group called on the Duterte administration to impose a moratorium on the construction of new coal plants and to conduct a review on the status of the existing coal plants in the country.

As staunch advocates of national industrialization, AGHAM also negated the stand of the President in championing the use of coal to power our country’s industrialization by saying that our rich natural resource base equips us with a variety of other options in terms of energy source.

“Coal is a thing of the past. Our country has many other potential sources of energy which can power our industrialization if given proper investment. We can move forward and achieve national industrialization without depending on coal but harnessing alternative sources energy to address the looming power crisis,” ended Cosico.#

Finesa Cosico
Secretary-General, AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People
(02) 998 4226

Rody cool to climate agreement

By Christina Mendez and Paolo Romero

The Philippine Star

9 October 2016

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines need not follow the rules of “imperialists” by abiding with the Paris Agreement on climate change, President Duterte said.

Speaking before businessmen in Davao City last Friday – his 100th day in office – Duterte stressed it is unfair for the country to be subjected to limitations on carbon emissions when it has not yet maximized its industrial potentials.

He said he would further open the country to mining and the manufacturing sectors to boost the economy.

“They cannot go higher than what we have now. And yet we Third World countries are trying to catch up and we are stymied not only by the cartels but also by the refusal of these industrial countries to understand,” the President said.

He said developed countries are curtailing the Philippines’ industrialization bid through restrictions on carbon emissions.

In the face of growing competition among industries, Duterte said he is betting on agriculture and mining to help the country in its industrialization effort.

It’s a highly competitive world today and everybody is into the business of money and that is why there is a lot of competition going on,” he said. 

“Maybe, just maybe, the Philippines will make it big in the agricultural area. Within the span of the next 30 years, three decades, I don’t see any rising of the new industrial sector, probably the new industrial sector. It’s too tight,” Duterte said.

“The resources are committed already and besides, we lag behind in the money business. But what would make the industry valuable? Agriculture is actually  (viable in) Mindanao and only in Mindanao,” he said.

Duterte expressed his opinion after a coalition of the world’s largest polluters and small island nations threatened by rising seas pushed for the immediate implementation of the landmark Paris Agreement.

President Obama hailed the news as a “turning point for our planet” while UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon called the agreement’s strong international support as a “testament for the urgency of action,” reports said.

“We want to reach what they have achieved. But then again there are so many things, so they said it’s the emission, carbon footprint, you cannot go beyond this, but then again if you go around the Philippines you have to go by the hundreds of kilometers before you see any factory,” Duterte said.

The Paris Agreement commits rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures, which is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns.

It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius.

While the targets in the agreement are not legally binding, the treaty does require countries to report on emissions and their progress in reaching the goals in the national climate plans they submitted to the UN.

The accord was adopted by consensus on Dec. 12, 2015.

The President said the developed countries were imperialists, which took advantage of their old colonies to achieve “unbridled, unimpeded” progress.

Ratify now

Meanwhile, Sen. Loren Legarda has renewed her call for the immediate ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the Philippines’ membership in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

At the hearing on the Department of Foreign Affairs’ proposed P16.63-billion budget for 2017, Legarda – chair of the Senate finance and climate change committees – prodded DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. to ratify as soon as possible the two accords.

Yasay assured the committee the DFA was working on the immediate ratification and submission to the Senate.

Legarda said while the Philippines is a founding member of the AIIB, it has yet to formalize its membership pending ratification.

“It will be good for our country and for our diplomatic relations with China if we are able to ratify the AIIB Treaty before the President’s visit to China this month,” the senator said.

As a member of the AIIB, the Philippines will be able to access funds for vital infrastructure projects, she said.

She said the treaty must be ratified within the year since the P4-billion initial contribution of the Philippines to the AIIB has been included in the proposed 2017 budget of the Department of Finance.

“We have already earmarked the funds for our contribution to the AIIB, but if the treaty is not ratified soon, we will have to delete it from the budget,” she said.

On the 1st year of Typhoon Lando, people of Sta. Cruz, Zambales call for justice for environmental destruction by large-scale mining

CEC - Philippines Press Release

18 October 2016

Sta. Cruz, Zambales - A recollection of massive flooding, contaminated mudflow and torrential rain and wind, which lasted for hours evoke strong sentiments among the residents of Sta. Cruz, Zambales  on the 1st commemorative year for Typhoon Lando (international name: Koppu). The strong but slow-moving typhoon affected almost 54,000 residents in this mining-affected town. However, sad the past year was for the town’s residents, they are more than ever vigilant on the mining operations that aggravates disasters.

Last October 18, 2015, Typhoon Lando brought immense flooding and heavy mudflow with huge amounts of red mud and cut-tree debris, which covered agricultural lands and brought various wreckage throughout the town and even in fishponds. “Typhoon Lando was the most horrible typhoon we have experienced here since Typhoon Cosme in 2008,” said Cristeta Sison a member of the Move Now! Alliance of organizations in Sta. Cruz has recalled.

These typhoon upshots were related by the residents to the massive large-scale corporate mining operations in the area. “We have been suffering from these mining operations for 10 years”, added Sison. There are 4 big mining companies situated in Sta. Cruz, Zambales and following Sec. Gina Lopez of DENR’s mining firm audit, she has conclusively suspended the same 4 mining firms as of September 22, 2016 namely BNMI, LNL Archipelago or LAMI, Eramen Minerals and DMCI.

A year later, communities are still recovering from the adverse effects of Typhoon Lando and from the different environmentally-destructive activities brought by large-scale mining. Presently, they are mostly wary of the incoming Typhoon Lawin and la niña phenomena because their lands and rivers have already been scoured and damaged by mining.

Ultimately, the people of Sta. Cruz, Zambales under the multi-sectoral alliance Move Now! together with the Center for Environmental Concerns, advocates and peoples organizations, demand justice for the damages brought by  these large-scale mining corporations, fair compensation and rehabilitation measures for the affected residents of the municipality and call for the eventual closing of these big mining firms which brought dreadful after effects to the environment, people and communities. Also, we are calling for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995 that institutionalizes the environmental plunder of these corporations.###

Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines
26 Matulungin Street, Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100
+632 920 9099 | |

Despite maneuvers of power company, investigative mission uncovers hazards and impacts of Calaca coal power plant

Kalikasan PNE press release

8 September 2016

The initial findings of an environmental investigative mission (EIM) held by environmental, scientist, church, health, and people’s organizations led by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) on the Calaca Coal-Fired Power Plant in Calaca, Batangas are pointing to signs of dangerous pollution and other adverse impacts on affected communities. This was despite the EIM team’s observation of possible maneuvers by the power plant administration to disrupt the investigation.

“Despite the seemingly deliberate scaling down of operations by the Calaca Coal-Fired Power Plant days before our planned investigation, the EIM was able to observe various plants smothered in black soot in the communities surrounding the power plant. Coal ash can potentially toxic substances such as heavy metals, and the people in the communities are bombarded with this pollution on a daily basis,” said Karl Begnotea, field biologist of Kalikasan PNE and part of the technical research team of the Calaca EIM.

The power facility, currently owned by the DMCI corporation alongside other partner companies, was reportedly operating on just half of its capacity starting August 28. The EIM was held from September 1 to 4, including components of an environmental technical assessment, a health assessment, and a socio-economic assessment. The technical assessment team gathered samples of sediments, fishes, and marine invertebrates set for laboratory analysis.

“Another glaring hazard posed by the Calaca Coal-Fired Power Plant was a massive open-air coal stockpile roughly five meters high, exposed to strong winds from the sea. It could likely be one of the main sources of the pollution affecting the surrounding ecosystems and communities, likely including the adjacent coastal and marine areas,” Begnotea explained.

“An overwhelming consensus among the focus-group discussions conducted during the socio-economic assessment was the massive depletion of fisheries experienced by fisherfolk that they have associated with the coal power plant’s impacts, among others. The fishermen related to us that there are some fish species that they no longer see in their dwindling catches after decades of the power plant’s operations,” Begnotea noted.

“Another significant finding in the socio-economic assessment was the pattern of exploitation experienced by the power plant’s workers themselves. All of them are contractual and have no social and health benefits despite having hazardous jobs,” added Begnotea.

The EIM team expects to finish laboratory testing and their final analysis over the next few months. Meanwhile, the people’s organizations from Calaca and other parts of Batangas who co-organized the mission said their demands against the power plant were ‘galvanized’ by the initial EIM results.

“Our fellow Batangueños in Calaca have suffered long enough from the unabated pollution inflicted by DMCI’s coal power plant. The Calaca Coal-Fired Power Plant should be denied its proposed 1,200-Megawatt expansion if it has operated unsafely and has not indemnified the communities it has affected by its pollution,” said Peti Enriquez, secretary general of the Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan – Batangas (BUKAL Batangas).

“There should be a moratorium on the construction or expansion of tried-and-tested polluter coal power projects such as DMCI. Steps should be taken to convert the Calaca Coal-Fired Power Plant into cleaner and safer energy technologies such as natural gas or solar,” Enriquez added.

“The case of Calaca is also the latest reminder of what sufferings the people will experience when power projects are privatized and thus unthinking and unfeeling over the public’s rights and interest. We encourage our lawmakers to finally address our energy privatization policies towards a more stringent regulation of our energy projects and a pro-people, pro-environment orientation of the energy industry instead of the current profit-driven energy regime that unavoidably becomes pollutive, hazardous, and inaccessible to the people,” ended Begnotea.#

Reference: Karl Begnotea – 0998 852 8641

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 433 0184 | E-mail: | Site:

Green groups want Calaca Coal-Fired Power Plant to be first to go in DENR’s proposed audit

Kalikasan PNE press release

9 September 2016

Together with various environmental groups, communities in Batangas province hosting the country’s oldest coal-fired power plant want the power project to be first in line for the promised audit of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—and they want a moratorium on its proposed 1,200-megawatt expansion plan in the process.

“More than three decades of the people‘s experiences compounded by the initial findings of a recent scientific assessment we held together with the locals should warrant an immediate stoppage of the Calaca Coal-Fired Power Project’s expansion plans until it is thoroughly assessed and ajudged by the DENR. The DMCI-owned power project should be first in line in Secretary Gina Lopez’s promised audit as it has been the country’s longest coal polluter and has a continuously-growing rap sheet of environmental, health, and socio-economic impacts,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

The EIM was co-organized by Kalikasan PNE together with the Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines, AGHAM – Advocates of Science & Technology for the People, Health Alliance for Democracy, BUKAL Batangas, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, UP Saribuhay, AGHAM Youth, and the Redemptorist Churches of Lipa and Baclaran, among others.

“Among the initial findings of the EIM include the observation of surrounding plant life smothered in coal ash, a huge open-air coal stockpile exposed to powerful winds, numerous documented health problems correlated to coal pollution, and the depletion of fisheries and adverse impacts on other livelihoods that residents associate with the various effects of the coal power project,” explained Dulce.

The EIM organizers and partner communities from Calaca and Balayan, Batangas delivered a petition letter to the DENR office today outlining the history of coal pollution in the Batangas province and the abovementioned mission results. In the petition, which was earlier delivered to the Department of Energy, the groups outlined the following appeals to the environment agency:

1.    Impose a moratorium on the construction of new or expansion of existing coal power plants in Batangas province and the rest of the country;

2.    Demand indemnification from the DMCI company for communities adversely affected by the Calaca Coal Power Project;

3.    Begin the process of transitioning existing coal power projects towards cleaner and safer technologies, prioritizing the Calaca Coal Power Project; and

4.    Recommend to Congress the repeal of energy privatization policies especially the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to return the public interest-orientation of the strategic industry.

“Our province has become a kitchen for destructive and pollutive power plants in the name of profit for the private energy monopolists such as DMCI. There is just around a month left before the first 100 days of the Duterte administration ends, and we hope for stronger action on the problems inflicted by the expansionism of coal especially in Batangas,” said Peti Enriquez, secretary general of BUKAL Batangas.

An executive or legislated moratorium on new or expansion coal power projects is one of the 14 demands of the Eco-Challenge for Change, a broad coalition of environment groups, including some of the EIM organizers, that have presented pro-environment, pro-people ‘doables’ for the new Duterte administration during its first hundred days.

Reference: Leon Dulce – 0917 562 6824

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 433 0184 | E-mail: | Site:

Philippines finds Semirara Mining's coal project 'technically sound'

20 September 2016

MANILA, Sept 20 (Reuters) - The Philippines' environment department has found an expansion project of coal producer Semirara Mining and Power Corp to be "technically sound", the company said on Tuesday, following a government audit of its operations.

Semirara, the Philippines' only large-scale coal producer, and dozens of miners in the Southeast Asian country underwent an audit launched by Environment and Natural Resource Secretary Regina Lopez on July 8, as she sought to put an end to irresponsible mining.

The government has halted the operations of 10 mines, eight of them nickel producers, and could suspend at least 10 more when it announces the results of the audit this week.

Last month, Lopez said her agency had asked Semirara to explain environmental violations at its mines in central Philippines, including siltation of nearby waters and air pollution.

In a filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Semirara said it received copies of the reports of the audit on its Molave expansion project from a regional unit of the Environmental Management Bureau, an agency under Lopez.

"The project is found to be technically sound considering that all aspects have been considered such as slope stability analysis," said the reports, copies of which were attached to Semirara's filing.

"Although there were complaints received regarding the operation of the mining project, it is recommended that a dialogue with the complainants be undertaken," the reports said.

Lopez had said it would be hard to just shut Semirara's operations because that might lead to power outages given the Philippines' heavy reliance on coal-fired generators.

Shares of Semirara rose as much as 7.3 percent following its market disclosure.

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Michael Perry)

Lopez says no decision yet despite Semirara's claims of positive audit

By Louise Maureen Simeon

Philippine Star

21 September 2016

MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has maintained that there is no decision yet on Consunji-led Semirara Mining and Power Corp.’s (SMPC) environment compliance despite the company’s claims of a positive result of the agency’s recently concluded mining audit.

"I am shocked and that's an understatement that the regional director of EMB (Environmental Management Bureau) sent a report, showed it to the mining company without the knowledge of the EMB director, or even the head of the audit for that matter," Lopez said in a text message to The STAR.

"We’re still gonna go over it. I’m very careful about just saying anything because it will send a message," Lopez said.

Ahead of audit result announcement, Semirara has requested last week from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-EMB (DENR-EMB) Region 6 (Western Visayas) the copies of the reports and disclosed it to the local bourse yesterday.

"That's so out of protocol and leaves to serious doubt the validity for that report. We're having a full day planning with many of our scientists to make sure that the audit report covers all angles and is within current DENR standards. That report is absolutely premature and that regional director is in hot water," Lopez said.

Last month, the DENR required the country’s largest coal mine to explain alleged violations in its Molave Coal Mine Expansion Project or face possible suspension of operations.

Based on the agency’s fact finding, DENR said there was "no proper stockpiling and disposal of the materials scooped out from the settling ponds, and other solid wastes impermanent, stabilized areas to avoid pollution of any water body and drainage systems, and maintaining them in safe and non-polluting conditions."

But, in summary, the DENR claimed that SMPC is responsible for its actions after its two-day audit last August.

Based on the DENR report, Semirara has fully complied with all the conditions of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) including proper land use, implementation of climate change initiatives, risk management plan and rehabilitation plan, among others.

"SMPC is responsible for its actions. Although they extracted the coal reserve of the island, they have an intensive care not only of the abandoned mine pit but their perseverance and hard work to the marine environment shows their serious payback for what they took in the island’s natural resources," it said.

The DENR said coal excavation and hauling were handled properly and no quantities of hazardous substances were noted with regards to the coal mine project.

"With these processes of operations, no hazardous substances were noted that, in contact with air, land, water or fire, will react by forming toxic pollutants or releasing harmful metals," the report said.

It added that mining in the island is considered short term because after all coal reserve are mined out, it will become inhabitable since the area has not enough freshwater reserve to cater the needs of the community in their industrial, commercial and agricultural use.

Lopez earlier said closing Semirara would not be easy, as Semirara produces 90 percent of coal supply and supplies 30 percent of the power requirement in the country.

Semirara is the only large-scale coal producer in the Philippines and is engaged in surface open cut mining of thermal coal from its Panian mine.

Nueva Vizcaya IPs Rally in Support of El Salvador against Oceana Gold

Amianan Salakniban News Release

10 October 2016

KASIBU, NUEVA VIZCAYA – Around 50 indigenous peoples from Nueva Vizcaya and Ifugao staged a protest action in front of the gates of the open pit mining site of Oceana Gold Philippines Incorporated (OGPI) in Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya last Saturday to call for the company’s expulsion from the Philippines and El Salvador.

Led by SAPAKKMMI Didipio, Amianan Salakniban, Green Youth, Ifugao Peasant Movement, TIMEQ –Quirino and Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo-Vizcayanos para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK), the group marched down the Sitio Boulevard to the gates of Oceana Gold and shouted out the company’s violations to the community and their environment and called for their immediate suspension as recommended by the DENR.

 “We are here to express our calls to the company and to the community of Didipio that this fight is not just our fight. This is a fight of all the people of the world against corporate greed,” En Ramel of ANNVIK said.

The international protest action was set through the coordination of anti-mining groups from the Philippines, El Salvador, Canada, US and Australia, following the set schedule of the verdict of the World Bank tribunal on the case of Pacific Rim/Oceana Gold vs. El Salvador this October.

Not just in Didipio

For 7 years, the El Salvadoran social movement has been fighting to stop the Pacific Rim (turned Oceana Gold) mining corporation from opening a gold mine in Cabañas, El Salvador, including their battle against a $300 million lawsuit at the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Oceana Gold used unjust investment laws under pro-corporate trade agreements to sue the Salvadoran government in 2009 for not approving its application for a mining permit.

Through solidarity actions all over the world, the anti-mining international community demands World Bank to immediately release a favorable decision that will finally vindicate the people of El Salvador and will allow their government to recover all legal expenses. They also call for OceanaGold to immediately discontinue all of its operations in El Salvador.

Stocks Dropped

Following the mining audit and the recommendation for suspension from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the share price of OceanaGold has been hammered down to at least 19%.

The Didipio mines provide the multi-national mining company, 40% of its gold and 30% of its copper production. Its closure is deemed to be disastrous for the company but relief to the community.

“We continue to unite with other countries being plundered by mining giants. Our protest actions may be small but the people’s solidarity with our global plight is our biggest ally in this fight,” Brgy. Councilor Celia Bahag, a board member of SAPAKKMI said.

Supporters Harassed

In the rally, an unidentified man kept taking pictures of all the people who participated. When the protesters apprehended the man, he refused to say his name but said he was part of the security force of OGPI.

After the rally, OGPI put up check points in the entry and exit points around the Barangay. Supporters from Quirino aboard a van, was stopped and asked to write their names in the logbook. The residents say this is the first time they did this. They fear that what happened in Zinundungan Valley, where 70 innocent men and women were filed trumped-up charges because they signed in the attendance sheets of the police, might also happen to them.

“We and our guests were always free to enter and exit the barangay without ever signing the logbook of OGPI’s security. We just rallied peacefully in front of their gates to express our beliefs. They have no right to harass us and our supporters,” Bahag said.

For follow-up interviews contact:

Amianan Salakniban Secretariat
Mob: 09079224889

Video footage available at

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