MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Environment Secretary orders closure of 23 mines

Published by MAC on 2017-02-10
Source: Statements, ABS-CBN, Reuters, IBT, Rappler, Star (2017-02-10)

... but will they actually be closed?

The crusade of the new "environmentalist" Environment Secretary, Gina Lopez (see: More Philippine miners threatened with suspension under crackdown) appears to be coming to a climax.

Having initiated an industry-wide environmental audit - and suspended a number of firms - she announced the results of the audit and the closure of some firms. Yet, as with some of the earlier suspensions, the announcement seemed premature, since the firms claimed not to have received direct notification.

Again, as with the earlier suspensions, a war of words erupted in the national press, with the mining industry - and its allies - crying foul about a lack of due process and warning of dire consequences, especially for jobs. Yet Ms Lopez is holding firm, and has responded with counter-arguments of long-term sustainable development and alternative green jobs.

The President has offered his backing to Ms Lopez, but seems to have somewhat back-tracked by ordering a review of the audit results by the multi-stakeholder Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC). How thorough such a review will be is questionable, and so far no mine has closed as a result of this announcement and, on past precedent, it may not be.

Nonethelessl,we may ask how long the industry can survive this level of uncertainty. It may well be a question of which miners can muster the most political support to survive.

Yet for many communities the day-to-day problems continue, and - ominously - as the on-going peace process with communist insurgents suffers its own setback - there has been a recent armed attack on a Philex-owned truck in Benguet province. It may be that some armed groups willl grow impatient of the never-ending bureaucratic buck-passing.

Lopez, Dominguez agree on 'multi-stakeholder' review of mining

ABS-CBN News

http://news.abs-cbn.com/business/02/09/17/lopez-dominguez-agree-on-multi-stakeholder-review-of-mining

9 February 2017

MANILA - A Cabinet oversight body on Thursday said it would create a "multi-stakeholder review" of mining operations in the country following the environment department's decision to shut or suspend 28 mines.

The resolution of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) did not say what will happen to Environment Secretary Gina Lopez's ruling, but acknowledged that the department audited the industry "which may merit the suspension or closure of certain operations."

The document issued late Thursday after a five-hour meeting was signed by Lopez and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez. The two officials co-chair the MICC.

The multi-stakeholder initiative will "review and advise the DENR on the performance of existing mining operations in consultation with local government units."

"Those found guilty of violating mining contracts, laws and regulations, after observance of due process, shall be meted the appropriate penalty under relevant laws," according to the resolution.

Workers who will be affected or displaced by any mining suspension or closure will be assisted by the government through a livelihood and employment transition plan, it said.

Lopez earlier said she would “not cop out” in her fight against mining that destroys the environment and places the poor at a disadvantage.

She also said only a “miracle” could convince her to reverse her decision to ban mines in watersheds.

Mining companies have the option to appeal the closures before President Rodrigo Duterte and the courts, she said. -- with reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News


Gina Lopez: MICC 'cannot tell me what to do'

The Mining Industry Coordinating Council review of the mining sanctions she earlier imposed is meant 'just to appease' the miners, says the DENR secretary

By Chrisee Dela Paz

http://www.rappler.com/business/161032-gina-lopez-stands-firm-micc-review

10 February 2017

MANILA, Philippines – Despite an ongoing review by a mining council, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez stood firm on her decision to sanction more than half of the country's 41 metal mines, saying she will only take instructions from the Philippine president.

"MICC (Mining Industry Coordinating Council) is recommendatory. They are not over me. They cannot tell me what to do. The only one who can tell me what to do is the President," Lopez said in a televised interview.

The MICC issued a resolution on late Thursday, February 9, stating that it will create a "muti-sectoral review and advise the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) on the performance of existing mining operations in consultation with local government units (LGUs)."

Formed under the leadership of former President Benigno Aquino III, the MICC was tasked to oversee reforms to help miners become more environmentally and socially responsible while providing a bigger pie in industry profits.

This council is now co-chaired by Lopez and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who earlier said that the closure of 23 mines will lead to joblessness.

Mines in watershed non-negotiable

"It (MICC review) is just to appease them (miners). But at the end of the day, even that review process is recommendatory to me. I make the decision and my decision is no mining in watershed. Water is life," Lopez said in an ANC interview on Friday morning, February 10.

Mining companies thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for promising to observe "due process" in the closure of 23 mines and suspension of 5 others.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) – an organization of local miners – has argued that the regulator's audit was "one-sided" and "compromised."

The group also said that the livelihood of 1.2 million people stands to be affected by the closures.

COMP added the country stands to lose P22 billion In investments due to an uncertain climate and that 20% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of MIMOROPA and Caraga regions are directly from mining operations.

"I don't know where that number of 1.2 [million] is coming from because they don't even have jobs every day of the year. The latest number of NGP (National Government Portal) is 219,000 in the third quarter of last year," Lopez argued.

The MICC said in the resolution that those adversely affected by suspension or closure – including displaced workers directly or indirectly employed by mining contractors – will be assisted through the government's livelihood and employment transition plan.

"They (firms violating mining rules) should be receiving today (February 10) the official notices of closure or suspension. They can appeal to the President and unfortunately, while the appeal is ongoing, they can still actually mine," Lopez said.

After observance of due process, the MICC said that those found guilty of violating mining contracts, laws, and regulations, will be meted the appropriate penalty under the laws. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Gina Lopez on mining company crackdown) – Rappler.com


Philippines: Environment minister slams government for siding with big businesses on mines closure

President Duterte and his cabinet revoke Regina Lopez's decision to close 23 mines.

By Rachel Middleton

10 February 2017

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/philippines-environment-minister-slams-government-siding-big-businesses-mines-closure-1605798

Regina Lopez, the Environment Secretary has accused the Philippines government of siding with big businesses after President Rodrigo Duterte and his cabinet revoked her decision to close half of the country's mining operations.

Malacanang Palace and the cabinet decided on Wednesday (8 February) that due process needed to take place first and the companies should be given the opportunity to be heard before a final decision is made.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said that the 23 mining companies ordered to be closed and the five that were suspended for violating environmental regulations, will be given the chance to dispute the mining audit undertaken by Lopez's Department of the Environment and Natural Resources.

The audit by the department has yet to be made public. Abella said that the mining companies would also be given the opportunity to undertake "the necessary remedies to ensure compliance with government standards," Manila Standard reports.

Still standing firmly behind her decision on 2 February to close the mines, she said the government should always stand for the poor, CNN Philippines reports.

"The only entity that can stand against political and business interest is the government. And if we co-opt our role to the side of big business, what's going to happen to these guys? The farmers and fishermen who have been suffering for decades."

She insisted that 15 of the mining firms ordered to close were operating inside a watershed, which could pollute the water source.

"The mining law says you should not disadvantage the present and future generations. When you kill the river and the streams and you put mining in watersheds, what are you doing?" Lopez said in a joint press conference with Abella on 9 February.

Lopez admits she disregarded recommendation of committee
The secretary also admitted that she had disregarded the recommendation of a technical review committee to just suspend the activities of the mining companies. The committee had only recommended suspension and fines.

Lopez however decided to go ahead and close the 23 mines on her own, Manila Standard said.

"Yeah that's true," she told reporters, referring to news reports that the decision she made was contrary to that of the technical review committee. "[The recommendation of the technical committee of] suspension and fines ... and the fines don't go to the community; it goes to the national government, it's so unfair."

Lopez also claimed that the mining industry funded political campaigns. "Even if you don't have business interest ... the fact is, mining money funds political campaigns. You know that, but I know that when you are funded by whoever, then you are indebted to that person.

The secretary continued: "And so what happens is the decisions those people make are by and large, always in favour of the people who funded their campaign."

CNN Philippines said that although Duterte has been vocal on his stance on mining, it claimed that the president's Statement of Contributions and Expenditures listed some funders from the mining sector.

Lopez however conceded that the final decision on the closure of the mines was still up to Duterte.

"At the end of the day, he makes the decision." She was quick to point out that in the Cabinet meeting, Duterte's last closing remark was that he agreed there shouldn't be any mining industry in watersheds.


Malacanang warned against flip-flopping on mine closure and suspension

Kalikasan PNE press release

9 February 2017

Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) slammed Malacanang Palace today with the breaking news that the Duterte administration has stopped the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) closure and suspension orders to some 28 large-scale mining operations to “observe due process.”

“The Duterte administration is gravely mistaken in their flip-flopping from fully supporting to suddenly putting on hold the historic decision to close down big mines that have wantonly raped the environment and caused insufferable social injustice to millions of Filipino people. It should have upheld the suspension of mines even amid the appeal of these abusive miners and pushed for a further investigation on how at least 68 percent of all operating large-scale mines got away with impunity in their destructive operations,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

DENR Secretary Gina Lopez, who spearheaded the audit of all the 41 operating large-scale mines, asserted that all 30 companies up for closure and suspension were given show-cause orders way back in September 2016. The final decision of upholding the closure and suspension for 28 of these mines was based on their investigation over the past four months after the companies replied.

“The audit involved frontline communities, local governments, and NGOs that have experienced and confronted first-hand the adverse social and environmental impacts of big miners over the past decades. Various studies and fact-finding efforts outside the audit have repeatedly found these companies violating environmental, social, and economic regulations,” explained Bautista.

“By all means, allow the companies to appeal the decision, but the closure and suspension orders must be kept in place concurrent to the appeal process. At the very least, Malacanang should have a precautionary approach to resolving the dispute over the mine closures since there are clear and urgent cases of environmental degradation and social injustice that has to be immediately addressed,” said Bautista.

The group noted, for instance, that a scientific environmental investigation mission they co-implemented back in 2015 found Australian-Canadian mining firm OceanaGold’s large-scale mine in Nueva Vizcaya to have caused massive water pollution to river systems flowing through their tenement. OceanaGold was never held accountable by the previous administration, however, but was among the companies suspended by the current DENR leadership after its audit.

“Duterte should be wary of bureaucrats in his Cabinet who are apologists for mining transnational corporations and their local compradors. Finance secretary Carlos Dominguez has stakes in the controversial Tampakan Mining Project of Sagittarius Mines Inc., and served as a borad director in mining firms Alsons and United Paragon Mining Corp. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia has been promoting neoliberal economics from which the mining industry derives its extractive and plunderous export orientation,” said Bautista.

“The Duterte administration should stop listening to the deceitfully alarmist whispers of mining plunder apologists. It should launch a full-blown investigation into the glaring weaknesses of our mining regulatory policies and how these mining companies have abused our mining laws to plunder our mineral resources at the expense of our people and environment,” Bautista ended.#

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 920 90 99 | E-mail: secretariat[at]kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net


Palace, Cabinet stop mine closure, suspension orders

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/598896/money/companies/palace-cabinet-stop-mine-closure-suspension-orders

9 February 2017

The backlash from the controversial closure and suspension orders by Environment and Natural Resources Gina Lopez against supposedly erring mining companies has prompted Malacañang to intervene, backed by the Cabinet, according to the Department of Finance.

"Members of the Cabinet have expressed their full support behind President Duterte’s decision to observe due process before implementing a directive of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to shut down or suspend 28 mining sites across the country," the department said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

But Lopez made it clear that due process was heeded in the industry-wide audit on mining operations in the country. "I fully support due process and I have followed due process. I can prove it," she said in a text message to GMA News Online.

Lopez announced on February 2 the results of a months-long audit by the DENR in which more than half of the large-scale mining operations failed.

"The DENR’s move ... has triggered outrage in communities hosting mining sites, as some 195,000 direct and indirect workers and their families, or a total of some 1.2 million people, would be adversely affected by the closure and suspensions of the mine sites," the DOF said.

"Malacañang has swiftly moved to calm fears of massive layoffs in communities affected by Lopez’s sudden move to close down or suspend mining operations in 10 provinces across the country, after several Cabinet officials expressed concern over the detrimental impact of her decision, which she had apparently kept to herself and even excluded members of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) team that conducted the audit, as well as the panel that reviewed the audit findings," the DOF said.

Industry lobby group Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), which counts as regular members 26 of the biggest miners in the company, welcomed the latest development.

"The Chamber of Mines thanks President Rodrigo Duterte and the Cabinet for deciding to observe due process with regard to the mining issue," the group said in a separate statement.

It said the decision by Malacañang and the Cabinet "... gives hope to our mining communities comprised of the many women and men who rely on the industry for their living."

The Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), co-chaired by Lopez and Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III scheduled to discuss the matter further at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Former President Benigno Aquino III created MICC under Executive Order No. 79 in 2012, the MICC is mandated to oversee reforms and make miners more socially and environmentally responsible while giving the state a bigger share of mining revenues.

"We commit to work closely with government and the Minerals Industry Coordinating Council regarding issues raised to ensure that a fair and just conclusion to the mines audit is reached," COMP said.

"We have not wavered in our commitment to continue being significant contributors to nation-building and inclusive growth," it added.

COMP earlier this week said the country stands to lose more than P1 trillion of investments should the DENR proceed with its closure order.

But Lopez belied such claim, saying most of the money does not benefit the economy.

“To whatever they invest, most of the net income goes to them. They get a seven-year tax holiday, and at the end of the mine they can sell all their equipment and keep the money ... So how are we benefitting here?” Lopez said in a text message to GMA News Online. — VDS, GMA News


Philippines gives mines facing closure chance to appeal

By Enrico Dela Cruz

http://www.reuters.com/article/philippines-mining-idUSL4N1FT3LD

8 February 2017

MANILA - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his cabinet will give mines facing closure by the environment ministry a chance to appeal the decision or rectify any violations, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez has ordered the closure of 23 of the country's 41 mines, most of which produce nickel ore, and the suspension of five more due to violations uncovered during a lengthy environmental audit.

The decision rocked the nickel market as the Philippines is the world's biggest exporter of nickel ore and angered mining firms in the country who said the process followed by the environment minister was neither legal nor fair.

"The president and his cabinet collectively decided to observe due process with regard to the mining issue," presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Companies affected by mining closures for violations of environmental laws and regulations will be given the opportunity to respond or dispute the audit, or make the necessary remedies to ensure compliance with government standards," he said.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines industry group welcomed the decision, saying it "gives hope to our mining communities comprised of the many women and men who rely on the industry for their living".

The group said it would work closely with the government to address issues raised "to ensure that a fair and just conclusion to the mines audit is reached".

Lopez launched an audit of the country's mines in July and appointed a panel to review its findings. It recommended only fines and suspensions, sources told Reuters, but the minister instead ordered 23 mines to shut on Feb. 2.

Earlier on Wednesday, the industry group accused Lopez of "short-cutting" the audit and decision-making process and said its members facing penalties had yet to receive any formal notice from the minister.

"The process ... was not fair, it's not legal. She's short-cutting the entire thing," Ronald Recidoro, the industry group's spokesman, said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

Lopez, who presented her decision to cabinet on Tuesday, was due to release mine closure orders on Wednesday and she also agreed to publish the panel's recommendations.

Lopez earlier disputed the complaints by the mining industry group saying she had issued an "omnibus directive" before her Feb. 2 announcement and her decision was fair and legal.

"Our lawyers have decided (the closure and suspension orders) should be issued to individual mining companies," Lopez said in a statement on Wednesday. (Editing by David Clarke)


Philippine mine closure orders to be issued Wednesday - minister

http://www.reuters.com/article/philippines-mining-idUSL4N1FT2VU

8 February 2017

Feb 8 The Philippine minister at the centre of a row over her decision to shut more than half the country's mines said closure orders would be released on Wednesday, after mining firms questioned the absence of any formal notices.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez also agreed to release the recommendations of a panel she created to review the results of a months-long mining industry audit in the world's biggest exporter of nickel ore.

The panel had recommended only fines and suspensions, sources told Reuters, but on Feb. 2 the minister ordered 23 of the country's 41 metallic mines to shut and suspended five more for alleged environmental violations.

Most of the mines produce nickel ore and concerns about supply disruptions have rocked the nickel market.

On Wednesday, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines industry group accused Lopez of "short-cutting" the audit and decision-making process and said its members facing penalties had yet to receive any formal notice from the minister.

"The process ... was not fair, it's not legal. She's short-cutting the entire thing," Ronald Recidoro, the industry group's spokesman, said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

Lopez, however, said she had issued an "omnibus directive" before her Feb. 2 announcement and reiterated that her decision was fair and legal.

"Our lawyers have decided (the closure and suspension orders) should be issued to individual mining companies," Lopez said in a statement on Wednesday. (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; editing by David Clarke)


Philippine mining firms urge minister to publish audit

By Enrico Dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-mining-idUSKBN15M0UI

7 February 2017

MANILA - Mining firms in the Philippines struggling to accept the government's decision to shut more than half of the country's 41 mines want the environment minister to release the results of the audit that led to the closures.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, which represents the country's large-scale mining firms, said its members needed all the information related to the audit so they "could act accordingly" and their lawyers would know what to do next.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez said she would grant the group's request, but reiterated she was standing by her decision, which differed from the recommendation of a team that reviewed the audit results.

Last week, Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mines, mostly nickel producers, and suspended five others for environmental violations. The Philippines is the world's biggest supplier of nickel ore.

The review team had recommended fines and suspensions but no outright closures, sources told Reuters.

"They (miners) can get whatever they want. No problem at all, just ask for it, go to the office," Lopez told Reuters in a text message, reacting to the group's request.

"Where there was dissonance was in the penalties. They wanted to fine. I don't agree," she said, referring to her decision and the review team recommendations.

The industry group said it would file a freedom of information request early on Wednesday, instead of Tuesday as announced earlier, to find out exactly what violations had led to the closures.

"This is quite a shock to everybody in the industry," the chamber's chairman Artemio Disini told a news conference.

In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Lopez said she would not reconsider her decision, saying the Philippines was "unfit for mining" due to its unique ecosystem.

Lopez launched the environmental audit in July, initially suspending 10 mines and saying 20 more were at risk of being halted. A long-time environmentalist, she took over the department that oversees the mining sector last June when tough-talking President Rodrigo Duterte came to power.

Duterte, who has said the Philippines can survive without a mining industry, has thrown his support behind Lopez's decision. She will present it formally at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Less than a month after he took office, Duterte ordered all agencies directly under his watch to open their records to the public as part of his promise to crack down on corruption and promote transparency in government.

"If she still refuses to release the audit results, then clearly she is going against the Duterte administration's mandate to promote transparency in government," the mining group's spokesman Ronald Recidoro said.

(editing by Richard Pullin and David Clarke)


Revenue loss from mine closures seen at P654 M

By Mary Grace Padin

The Philippine Star - http://www.philstar.com/business/2017/02/08/1669997/revenue-loss-mine-closures-seen-p654-m

8 February 2017

MANILA, Philippines – The government stands to lose at least P653.64 million in revenues from the possible closure and suspension of 28 mining firms in the country, initial data from the Department of Finance (DOF) showed.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said aside from employees, cities and municipalities hosting the mining sites to be shut down or suspended would lose their income as these firms pay large amounts of taxes to their localities.

“For the national (government) it’s going to hurt that we’re not going to get the mining revenue, but it’s not going to be fatal. But in some municipalities, that’s the only real income they have,” Dominguez told reporters during the induction ceremony of the new officials of the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines.

To recall, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez last week called for the closure of 23 mining operations and suspension of five others due to violations of environmental standards.

According to preliminary reports of the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), 10 municipalities and one city would be affected by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ closure order on 23 mining companies, while one city and four municipalities would be affected by the suspensions.

Initial estimates of the DOF suggest the move of the DENR could result in at least P653.64 million in forgone revenues for the government.

“That’s an initial number. We’re still putting it all together,” Dominguez clarified.

Of this value, P441.92 million are shares of the local government units, while P211.72 million are from mining taxes collected at the national level.

Further breaking down the share of LGUs, P272.24 million would come from those mining sites ordered for suspension, and P169.68 million are contributed by operations for closure.

These figures are based on 2015 data from the local treasurers and the DOF, and excludes the real property tax shares of the provinces and barangays hosting the mining operations.

Meanwhile, Dominguez said the Mining Industry Coordinating Council, which he co-chairs, would study the basis of the decision and its impact to the economy.

The finance chief once again emphasized his concern for the number of people who will be directly and indirectly affected by the mining closures and suspension.

“My concern, and the concern of many members of the Cabinet are the people who might lose their jobs. Because frankly, most of these jobs are in locations where you cannot just go across the street and get another job,” he said.

Dominguez said the Department of Social Welfare and Development is already working on a census of all the individuals directly and indirectly affected by the order, while the Departments of Labor and Employment, Trade and Industry and Public Works and Highways are already coming up with emergency programs to absorb the workers to be displaced by the DENR decision.


Lopez to mining firms: Growth must come with social justice

http://thestandard.com.ph/news/-main-stories/228892/lopez-to-mining-firms-growth-must-come-with-social-justice.html

9 February 2017

“Economic growth is not genuine if it does not bring social justice.”

This is the point expressed by Deparment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez when she faced the briefing in Malacañang on Thursday morning.

“Genuine economic growth comes with area development. Area development is when you take an area and develop its potential,” she said.

Lopez’s statements came a day after she told the Senate Committee on Labor that she would resign if, within one year and a half, she would fail to improve the lives of residents affected by the closure of mining companies.

Lopez earlier ordered 23 mining companies to stop their operations, citing their destructive effects to watersheds.

The DENR Secretary said, President Duterte agreed with her decision as they both believe that preserving the quality of water people drink is more important than gold and nickel.


Lopez vows to create green jobs for workers displaced by mines closure

By: Tarra Quismundo

Philippine Daily Inquirer - http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/869509/lopez-vows-to-create-green-jobs-for-workers-displaced-by-mines-closure

8 February 2017

MANILA, Philippines— Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on Wednesday vowed to transform mining communities affected by her unprecedented closure order on 23 mines in the Caraga region, promising to create green jobs for workers displaced by the shutdown.

Before a hearing of the Senate’s labor committee, Lopez told committee chair Sen. Joel Villanueva that she would kickstart ecotourism opportunities in affected communities in the Dinagat Islands and Surigao del Norte to catch workers who have lost their livelihood after she ordered the closure of 23 large-scale mines in the region.

“I commit to taking care of all these people, plus plus…,” Lopez told the committee at a hearing Wednesday afternoon.

She said government should look at industries other than mining to create jobs for locals, noting at how little the roughly century-old mining industry in the Philippines contributes to the local and national economy.

The Philippines is the fifth most mineralized country in the world and is the planet’s top nickel producer, but firms take 82 percent of the profits, and nearly all of the money “goes out of the local economy, Lopez said.

“You go figure. In Caraga, there are 26 mining companies, and it’s still the poorest region! If mining is so good, why for heaven’s sake is Caraga so poor?” she said in an impassioned presentation at the Senate.

“We’ve been mining this country for more than 100 years, what do we have to show (for it)? All the areas where we have mining are the poorest,” she said.

She cited how ecotourism could instead supplant mining in the environmentally vulnerable mine areas, citing the example of a project she had initiated at Ugong Rock in Puerto Princesa as a private sector endeavor. She said the town’s earnings had increased from P7,000 to P29 million over the last decade.

“Why not give it (mine communities) a chance to breathe and create other kinds of jobs? I feel it behooves on government to make the right choice which could create the greatest common good,” she said.

An estimated 19,000 direct hires of the shut mining firms are affected by Lopez’s order, according to Nelia Halcon, executive vice president of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.

Halcon said this figure swells to 194,000 if other sectors are included: indirect hires, or those subcontracted at mine sites for administrative roles, construction and other operations; induced employment workers, such as those working in businesses that sprout around mine areas; and miners’ families.

Lopez said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has an available P8 billion to create ecological zones across the country.

Villanueva meanwhile said he would hold Lopez to her promise.

“I will hold her accountable on her commitment to create green livelihood for the affected communities. We will also review existing policies and formulate new ones to ensure we have just transition towards a green economy and we have a mechanism to support DENR’s decision,” the senator said.

“We still have 19,000 people who will lose their jobs. We need to build the capacity of our workers as we transition to a greener economy,” he told the Inquirer. JE


Intervention in mining controversy a collective decision – Palace official

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/598924/money/companies/intervention-in-mining-controversy-a-collective-decision-palace-official

9 February 2017

Malacañang said the intervention implemented on the decision of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez to close and suspend mining operations was a collective decision of President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet.

"President and his Cabinet collectively decided to observe due process with regard to the mining issue," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella was quoted as saying in a statement released by the Department of Finance (DOF) on Thursday.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) revealed last week orders were issued to close and suspend mining companies operating across the country as a result of a months-long audit.

Under "due process," Abella said affected companies will be given the opportunity to "respond or dispute" the audit results.

"Members of the Cabinet have expressed their full support behind President Duterte's decision to observe due process before implementing a directive of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to shut down or suspend 28 mining sites across the country," the statement read.

In a separate text message to GMA News Online, Lopez said due process was heeded during the audit. "I fully support due process and I have followed due process. I can prove it."

Lopez and Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III co-chair the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) which is mandated to oversee reforms to make miners more socially and environmentally responsible, while giving the state a bigger share of mining revenues.

"Dominguez has also expressed concern over the plight of the tens of thousands of workers who would lose their jobs as well as the fiscal health of cities and municipalities hosting mine sites, which are heavily dependent on the taxes and fees paid by mining firms for their revenues," the statement read.

Industry lobby group Chamber of Mines of the Philippines also claimed earlier this week the country stands to lose more than P1 trillion of investments should the DENR proceed with its closure and suspension orders.

But Lopez doubted such claim. “To whatever they invest, most of the net income goes to them. They get a seven-year tax holiday, and at the end of the mine they can sell all their equipment and keep the money ... So how are we benefitting here?” Lopez said.

"Malacañang has swiftly moved to calm fears of massive layo-ffs in communities affected by Lopez's sudden move to close down or suspend mining operations in 10 provinces across the country, after several Cabinet officials expressed concern over the detrimental impact of her decision," the statement read.

Lopez had apparently kept to herself the impact of her decision and from members of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) team that conducted the audit and the panel that reviewed the audit findings, according to the statement, which the DOF said was from Malacañang.

For her part, Social Welfare Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said the Department of Social Welfare and Development will conduct surveys to determine the extent of joblessness that would result from the closure and suspension orders, according to the statement.

While the Department of Labor and Employment has an emergency jobs program, it would only be able to absorb a limited number of workers and only for a limited time, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello, it said.

COMP earlier said that the planned closure of 23 mines and the suspension of five others will affect about 1.2 million people and result in a reduction of 67,000 jobs. — Jon Viktor Cabuenas/VDS, GMA News


Anti-mining group confident due process will back DENR’s closure of mines

By JON VIKTOR D. CABUENAS

GMA News - http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/598932/money/economy/anti-mining-group-confident-due-process-will-back-denr-s-closure-of-mines

9 February 2017

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) on Thursday welcomed the Malacañang directive to give due process to mining companies ordered closed and suspended by Environment SecretaryGina Lopez, indicating that the results of the recent mining audit would stand scrutiny.sho

"From our own database, there is overwhelming documentation and evidence that prove the closures are with merit. We offer these documents to DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and the MICC (Mining Industry Coordinating Council) for their own perusal," ATM said in a statement.

Lopez last week ordered the closure and suspension of several mining companies in the country, following the result of its industry-wide, months-long environmental audit.

The group said it was under the impression that the decision to close and suspend mines did not only rely on the mining audit, but also on local reports of non-government organizations (NGOs) and local government units (LGUs), and news coverages among others.

"The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines wrongly maintains a narrow viewpoint when they insist that the Mining Audit report was the sole basis for the closures and suspensions," ATM said.

"Our alliance argues that Sec. Lopez was actually enforcing environmental laws and policies when she decided to close these mines. Standards were not met, laws were violated, so it should come as no surprise that violators will be penalized," it added.

ATM said it welcomed the plan of COMP to seek legal remedies, but said it was confident it would have "strong and reliable evidence" to refute their claims.

"In behalf of the thousands of mining-affected communities who are resisting these destructive mines, we reserve the right to exercise the protection and fulfillment of our human rights and we are prepared to launch meta-legal and extra-legal measures should these closures and suspensions be revoked," ATM said. —NB, GMA News


Philippine mining industry says mine closures 'illegal, unfair'

http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-philippines-mining-idUKKBN15L0C6?il=0

6 February 2017

The Philippine mining minister's decision to close over half of the country's mines and suspend others is "illegal and unfair," and jeopardises an industry that has paid a large amount in taxes and fees to the government, the country's mining industry body said on Monday.

"She violated due process - which is an inherent part of the rule of law – and did not give proper notice by consistently refusing to release the results of the audit to the affected parties," the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines said in a statement.

A team that reviewed an audit of Philippine mines recommended suspension of operations and payment of fines for environmental violations, rather than the closure of 23 mines ordered by the minister overseeing the process, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez on Thursday ordered the mines shut, saying many were operating in watersheds. The mines to be closed account for half of nickel ore output by the world's top supplier of the metal. Another five mines were suspended.

The decision, which President Rodrigo Duterte said he supports, has angered the country's mining industry, with miners saying the shutdowns will affect 1.2 million people and some vowing to overturn the ruling.

"She has created an unstable policy environment resulting in the stalling of economic growth momentum under the Duterte Administration," the chamber said, citing the industry's 62.5 billion pesos ($1.26 billion) worth of investments.

The group said it was apparent there was "widespread chaos" in Lopez' department following her decision to close some mines, which was not part of the recommendation of the audit team.

Lopez said in a statement on Sunday her decision was consistent with her "non-negotiable" stance against irresponsible mining.

($1 = 49.6990 Philippine pesos)

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


Team advised Philippine mine suspensions, not closures: sources

By Manolo Serapio Jr

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-mining-idUSKBN15K055

5 February 2017

MANILA - A team that reviewed an audit of Philippine mines recommended suspension of operations and payment of fines for environmental violations, rather than the closure of 23 mines ordered by the minister overseeing the process, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez on Thursday ordered the mines shut, saying many were operating in watersheds. The mines to be closed account for half of nickel ore output by the world's top supplier of the metal. Another five mines were suspended.

The decision has angered the country's mining industry, with miners saying the shutdowns will affect 1.2 million people and some vowing to overturn the ruling.

However, the review team that advised on the process believed some of the violations, which included insufficient rehabilitation of mined areas, absence of tree-cutting permits and construction of alternate haul roads, were rectifiable, and did not warrant permanent closure, one of the people said.

"She's the boss, she has all the discretion," the person said. "The only question is what was her basis in her decision?"

Lopez, a long-time environmentalist who took over the department that oversees the mining sector last June when tough-talking President Rodrigo Duterte came to power, has declined to release the recommendations of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) review team.

"What's important here is the decision I make as cabinet secretary, not the recommendations ... Don't try to make things complicated," she told reporters on Thursday.

"You cannot have any kind of mining operations in a watershed. Water is life."

Banned From Briefing

Damage to watersheds and siltation of coastal waters where the mines are located were the major reasons that led to Lopez's decision to shut them, said a second person with knowledge of the matter.

"The secretary herself went to the mining sites and she personally reviewed the documents and that led to the decision," the person said.

Lopez launched the environmental audit of the mines in July, initially suspending 10 and saying 20 more were at risk of being halted. The bureau's review team began examining the audit results and the responses from miners in December, one of the sources said.

Members of the review team were banned from Thursday's briefing, according to a mining industry group and one of the sources.

Not allowing the Mines and Geosciences Bureau personnel to attend the press conference "leaves a lot of doubt in the fairness of the entire process," Artemio Disini, chairman of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, said in a letter to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez on Friday.

Dominguez has expressed concern over the looming job losses.

"There has to be due process," said Vicente Lao, owner of chromite producer Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp, which was ordered to close.

Australian miner OceanaGold Corp, which was ordered suspended, said it "will not rule out commencing proceedings to appeal to a higher authority, and seek to stay and overturn the order" once it receives it.

(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Additional reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Richard Pullin)


No slowing down: Duterte fully backs Gina Lopez

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/02/17/no-slowing-down-duterte-fully-backs-gina-lopez

2 February 2017

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday stressed anew that he fully supports Environment Secretary Gina Lopez following the latter’s decision to suspend and close operations of several mines.

“I’ve read on newspapers that Secretary Ginal Lopez cancelled about 7 of big mining firms in the country. I support her and there was never a time that I called her to slow down a little bit,” Duterte said.

"She is passionate not about the mining laws but the little men on the land, tilling.”
Lopez said Thursday she was suspending and closing operations of several mines following an industry-wide crackdown on violators of safety standards.

Of the 41 mines audited, only 13 passed while 21 are for closure, six for suspension, and one was deferred.

The operation of Filminera Resources Corporation in Masbate was deferred.

As of posting, Lopez said she was suspending the environment certificates of the following mining operations:

- OceanaGold Phils in Nueva Vizcaya;
- Lepanto Consolidated Mining in Benguet;
- CitiNickel Mines and Development Corporation in Narra, Palawan;
- Berong Nickel Corp. in Quezon, Palawan, and Ore Asia Mining;
- Development Corporation in Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan; and
- Strong Built Mining Development Corporation.

Lopez has also ordered four mining operations in Zambales closed, citing their negative effect on watersheds. They are as follows:

- BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc.,
- Eramen Minerals Inc.,
- Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation, and
- LNL Archipelago Mining Corp.

Three mining operations in Homonhon Island in Samar are also ordered closed:

- Mt Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp.,
- Emir Minerals Corp., and
- Techiron Mineral Resources Inc.

The following mines in Dinagat Islands were ordered closed:

- Aam-Phil Natural Resources Exploration and Development Corporation,
- Krominco Inc.,
- SinoSteel Philippines H.Y. Mining Corporation,
- Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation,
- Wellex Mining Corporation,
- Libijo Mining Corporation, and
- Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp.

In Surigao del Norte, the closure of these mines was also ordered:

- ADNAMA Mining Resources Corporation,
- Claver Mineral Development Corp.,
- Platinum Development Corp.,
- CTP Construction and Mining Corp.,
- Carrascal Nickel Corporation,
- Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation, and
- Hinatuan Mining Corporation.

Lopez, an environment campaigner before she assumed a government post, has also opposed plans by US network Nickelodeon to build a theme park in Palawan if it will destroy corals in the area.

She also investigated an ash alleged spill in Bataan province that caused people living near a San Miguel Corp. power plant and a Petron Corp. oil refinery to fall ill.


Green group calls for immediate enforcement of suspension, closure orders on 26 large-scale mines

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

2 February 2017

Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) praised the breaking announcement of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez ordering the closure of 21 large-scale mining operations and the suspension of an additional five more mines.

“This is a significant victory for the long-standing people’s struggles against destructive large-scale mining and a job well done for Sec. Lopez. We urge all relevant government agencies to immediately enforce the closure and suspension of all 26 mining companies, as the affected communities have been clamouring to expedite this since the announcement of the mining audit’s initial results last September,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Sec. Lopez’s announcement was the culmination of the DENR’s mining audit covering all 40 operating large-scale mines in the Philippines. Initial results announced by Sec. Lopez back in September 2016 showed that there are 10 mines upheld for suspension and some 20 more recommended for suspension.

“Sec. Lopez should compel all the erring mining companies to compensate for the full rehabilitation of the degraded watersheds, agricultural lands, and other ecosystems. The compensation should unconditionally go to the DENR’s plan to engage communities in an ‘area development approach’ in restoring and redeveloping the sites that will be vacated by the mines,” said Bautista.

The large-scale mines ordered for closure include:

1.    BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Incorporated
2.    Eramen Minerals Incorporated
3.    LNL Archipelago Minerals Incorporated
4.    Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation
5.    Mt Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corporation
6.    Emir Minerals Corporation
7.    Techiron Mineral Resources Incorporated
8.    AAMPHIL Natural Resources Exploration
9.    Krominco, Incorporated
10.  Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corporation
11.  Libjo Mining Corporation
12.  Adnama Mining Resources, Incorporated
13.  Platinum Group Metals Corporation
14.  Claver Mineral Development Corporation
15.  Hinatuan Mining Corporation
16.  Sinosteel PH
17.  Wellex Mining
18.   Oriental Synergy
19.  CTP Construction and Mining
20.  Carrascal Nickel
21.  Marcventures

Meanwhile, the five mines suspended were:

1.    OceanaGold Phils Incorporated
2.    Lepanto Consolidated
3.    Citinickel Mines and Development
4.    Berong Nickel Corporation
5.    Ore Asia Mining and Development

“All affected communities hosting these mines up for closure or suspension must remain vigilant as we expect resistance from the mining companies and the bureaucrats in their fold. Sec. Lopez should strengthen her cooperation with grassroots communities and social movements in working towards the closure of all these erring mines,” ended Bautista.

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 920 90 99 | E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net


Philippine miners to seek legal remedies after closure, suspension orders

Reuters - http://www.miningweekly.com/article/philippine-miners-to-seek-legal-remedies-after-closure-suspension-orders-2017-02-02

2nd February 2017

MANILA - Philippine miners that were either ordered shut or suspended for environmental infractions will seek legal remedies, a spokesman for the country's mining group said, adding that the entire mining audit was "clearly flawed".

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez earlier ordered the closure of 21 mines, mostly nickel producers that account for about half of output in the world's biggest nickel ore supplier, as a government campaign to fight environmental degradation deepens.

"The audit process was clearly flawed," lawyer Ronald Recidoro from the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines told Reuters by phone, having opposed the inclusion of anti-mining groups in the teams that inspected the country's 41 mines.

"Definitely the companies that were named in the list will go legal," he said. They would initially file a motion for reconsideration with Lopez's agency "and once that is denied you go to the Office of the President and from there you go to the courts."


Oceanagold threatens legal action on mine closure fears

http://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/oceanagold-threatens-legal-action-on-mine-closure-fears-20170202-gu431e.html

2 February 2017

OceanaGold has threatened to take legal action if the Philippine government follows through with any move to force the miner to suspend operations at its Didipio mine, which has been the subject of recent wrangling between the company and the government.

Shares in the miner slumped on the suspension fears, closing down 15 per cent at $3.84.

At a press conference earlier Thursday, the Philippine government named the company's Dipidio mine as the subject of a proposed suspension order due to alleged declining agricultural production in the area of the mine

In response, the miner's chief executive Mick Wilkes slammed the decision as "unjustified".

The country said it will close as many as 23 mines and suspend six others following a recent review due to concerns that environmental permits have been breached.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez ordered the closure of at least seven mines, including five nickel ore producers, and the suspension of a gold mine operated by Australia's Oceanagold Corp, for causing environmental destruction.

"Why is mining more important than people's lives?," Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez said at a press conference.

Oceanagold suspended trading in its shares briefly last September following statements by Philippine government officials indicating the mine could be closed.

Oceanagold said it has received no notice of any formal suspension of operations at the mine, which remains in operation.

"This decision .. is unjustified nor has any basis in law," Mr wilkes said. "Wer have not received any show cause notice from [the government] nor have se received a suspension order.

"Should we ultimately receive a suspension order as suggested today, we have very strong legal grounds to have it overturned."

Last October, the miner said an Audit Report received from the government related mostly to the need to further educate a broader group of stakeholders on specific aspects of the operations.


 

NGOs laud DENR move on mining shutdown

By Louise Maureen Simeon

Philippine Star

http://www.philstar.com:8080/business/2017/02/05/1669091/ngos-laud-denr-move-mining-shutdown

2 February 2017

MANILA, Philippines -  Environment groups lauded the decision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to close down several mining operations, as interest groups called for continuous action against possible retaliatory measures that affected firms will soon undertake.

“Stronger safeguards need to be installed in our institutions to truly break away from the current state of affairs of our environment where only a handful from the mining industry dominate in extracting and benefitting from the country’s natural resources,” party-list group Sanlakas secretary-general Aaron Pedrosa said.

Non-government organization Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is already expecting that mining stakeholders will question and appeal the decision of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez to close down 23 and suspend five large-scale mining companies in the country.

“We know that they will not take these developments lightly and we anticipate that they will question the legality of these orders and the competence of the Secretary,” ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said.

“We are ready to confront the mining industry and expose more violations and non-compliance. Their pitch for ‘responsible mining’ has been unmasked as mere rhetoric,” he said.

Likewise, the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) emphasized the visible environmental impacts of mining operations such as air pollution, biodiversity loss, floods, food insecurity, loss of aesthetic degradation, soil contamination and erosion, waste overflow, deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, and surface water pollution.

“It is high time that we realize that we put so much burden on our environment and our fellow Filipinos in mining-affected areas for the sake of accommodating a large-scale mining industry that damages our resources without having ever contributed to our economic growth as a country,” CEED national convenor Gerry Arances said.

Arances noted how the country’s current legal framework allows the entry and the large-scale destruction to communities in exchange for “few and insignificant portions of the revenue gained by corporations.”

“In order to instigate a full stop to the destruction caused by mining operations, we  have to shift our way of appropriating our natural resources and make it fully attuned to the needs of our own communities rather than that of corporations,” he said.


PMPI Statement on the Closure and Suspension of Mining Companies

Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc.

3 February 2017
 
The results of the mining audits are finally out! The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) declared the closure of twenty-three (23) mining firms, suspension of five, and deferral of one.

For these 28 communities directly impacted by mining, the announcement from the DENR Secretary is a reason for celebration. The Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., (PMPI) rejoices with all the mining affected communities, especially our partners in the Island of Homonhon that after years of struggle, a glimmer of hope has finally arrived. The fear that the remaining patches of forest and vegetation will be totally destroyed will diminish. 
 
PMPI commends the action of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez to protect the country’s natural resources. We hope that rehabilitation of the mining affected communities that prioritizes the well-being and needs of people over economic gains will be pursued. We hope that those responsible for the destruction and desecration of our lands shall be held accountable.

We are pleased that the verdict is out!  

We now call for the immediate implementation of these orders. The communities and environmental defenders cannot afford to be complacent, until we hear that these mining companies have complied with the DENR suspension and cancellation order. 

We now call for rehabilitation of the mine remnants. Mining companies, especially those ordered for closure, should be obliged by the government to start rehabilitation works. We hope that the gaping pits, dead water tributaries, and barren soils will not be simply abandoned and left to the suffering host communities, just like in Marinduque. 

The Marcopper operations in Marinduque has stopped, but the people continue to suffer from its impact both human and environmental. We call on Secretary Lopez to take the lead in demanding accountability from these companies. Do not leave the battle for rehabilitation to the people of Marinduque alone. The same holds true for Rapu-rapu. 

We are happy that the verdict is out!
 
But we hope and pray that more mining audits will be conducted and more mining companies will be held accountable. We reiterate our plea to Secretary Lopez to look into the plight of Manicani Island. To declare all small island ecosystem as ‘no-go’ zones for mining.  We look forward to a total ban of SMI in Tampakan, South Cotabato, given its magnitude, and that it can become our worst environmental nightmare if it pushes through. 


And we salute DENR Secretary Gina Lopez for this fearless action. No DENR Secretary has ever achieved this feat. We will continue to engage and be with her in areas of shared vision. We will be vigilant so that the entire DENR machinery follow her lead as this ailing and old structure of DENR has been lacking the political will to protect the natural resources for a long while now. We will keep careful watch over mining companies who are ready to overturn this order. We will forever be vigilant. The fight for the protection of environment and respect for all creation should become our WAY OF LIFE. In this case the modern mantra "There is no Forever" is not true. 

The PMPI is a network of development organizations, environmental and righsts groups, civil society organizations (CSO) people’s organizations (POs), church/faith-based groups, and Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany based in Aachen, Germany.


ATM Statement on the Closure and Suspension Orders of Mining Projects by DENR

ALYANSA TIGIL MINA

2 February 2017

ATM lauds the recent pronouncement of DENR Sec. Gina Lopez ordering the cancellation of 21 mining projects and suspending the operations of six other mining firms.

Our alliance believes that this is a logical conclusion of the mining audit that was conducted last year, a landmark initiative by Sec. Lopez that initially resulted in the suspension of 10 mining operations and recommending the suspension of 20 other mines. The mining audit itself was a welcome  initiative last August 2016, a move that has been mandated by the issuance of Executive Order 79 by the Aquino administration but was sadly, never implemented by past DENR officials.

Sec. Lopez has delivered on her promise to bring social justice. Her arguments that water, livelihoods and food are primary ingredients for a  sustainable life are well-placed. She has displayed strength of character in this decision and we will continue to engage her administration in the DENR to push for genuine reforms. We particularly welcome the public comment of Pres. Duterte that he supports the move of Sec. Lopez on these mine closures.

We fervently hope that Sec. Lopez’s display of political will be rewarded thru her confirmation by the Commission on Appointments. The country needs more leaders like her who are decisive and incorruptible.

These cancellation and suspension orders are good first steps to introduce reforms in the DENR. More is left to be done.

We expect the mining industry to question and appeal these decisions. We know that they will not take these developments lightly and our alliance  anticipates that they will question the legality of these orders and the competence of DENR Sec. Lopez. We are ready to confront the mining industry and expose more violations and non-compliance. Their pitch for “responsible mining” has been unmasked as mere rhetoric. We challenge them that we pursue a debate on the mining policies and the urgent need to pass a new mining law, especially in this context of climate change we all face.

But the real victors here are the mining-affected communities. The closure and suspension of these mines capture the struggles of dozens of  communities and indigenous peoples resisting the entry or expansion of destructive mining in Cagayan, Cordillera, Nueva Vizcaya, Zambales, Bulacan, Batangas, Mindoro, Palawan, Romblon, Marinduque, Masbate, Leyte, Samar, South Cotabato, Zamboanga, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Dinagat Islands.

These communities have set-up barricades, signed petitions, filed cases, and lobbied government agencies to stop mining in their localities. Indigenous communities and environmental activists have organized themselves and committed their time, sweat, blood, tears and resources to protect their lands and the environment. Local governments have even declared their localities as “no-go zones” against mining. Some have even offered lives to prevent the destruction of their environment and ensure a sustainable future for their families. Fundamentally, the rights of peoples and communities were being protected and fulfilled in resisting mining.

For all of them, we claim this victory, and to them we offer our continued vigilance and militancy.


Contact Info: Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator – (0917) 549.82.10 – nc[at]alyansatigilmina.net
Unit 223 St. Anthony Building, 891 Aurora Blvd. cor. Cambridge St., Brgy. E. Rodriguez, Cubao, Quezon City, 1109 Tel. (+632) 440-32-11
E-mail: nc[at]alyansatigilmina.net website: www.alyansatigilmina.net


Lawmakers back DENR's mining clampdown

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez

Interaksyon

http://interaksyon.com/article/136828/lawmakers-back-denrs-mining-clampdown

3 February 2017

MANILA, Philippines - Leaders of the House of Representatives on Friday backed the decision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to close down 23 abusive mining companies and the suspension of five more.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said DENR Secretary Gina Lopez did right in strictly enforcing laws against the activities of the firms that are detrimental to the environment.

"Talagang anti-mining ako, at alam mo naman 'yung kalikasan ay kinakailangan natin talagang pangalagaan (I am anti-mining at heart. And you know we should be good stewards of nature). For me, Sec. Lopez did the right thing," Alvarez said.

Alvarez cited the CARAGA region, host to a number of mining operations, but which has remained poor through the years.

"There will be people displaced from their work and livelihood, but, realistically, the other side of the equation is possible damage to our natural environment, which potentially impacts a greater proportion of the population, in terms of severe disasters in times of calamity." he said.

Alvarez said that, while some politicians may have been identified with mining operations, he believes the congressmen are not out as a bloc to prevent the confirmation of Lopez.
 
In a separate statement, Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate called for the immediate enforcement of the DENR order and permanent closure of the companies implicated in causing massive damage to the environment and livelihood in the people.

"The constant monitoring of the five suspended mines should also be carried out for them to strictly comply with environmental laws," Zarate, chairperson of the House committee on natural resources, said.

"All the concerned companies should now also be ordered to pay for the damage inflicted, as well as compensation for those affected by their destructive operations, and the rehabilitation of the areas," he added.

Zarate also called for an overhaul of environment and mining laws and replace them with pro-people mining measures.


Villanueva wants Senate to probe plan on displaced workers of mines

By Maila Ager

Inquirer.Net

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/868038/villanueva-wants-senate-to-probe-plan-on-displaced-workers-of-mines

3 February 2017

Senator Joel Villanueva wants the Senate to look into the government’s plan for the thousands of workers who would be displaced with the closure of more than 20 mines in the country.

“We support the initiative of Sec. Lopez to improve the state of our environment and promote green industry and jobs. But we also have to ensure that our workers are protected,” Villanueva said in a statement on Friday.

The senator was reacting to Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s  order for the closure of 23 mines and the suspension of five mining firms.

Villanueva, chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development, said the closure of the mines would result in the unemployment of about 20,000 workers.

“The government has to make sure that we have a clear transition plan to support these workers and to make sure that that capacity building programs and trainings are provided to help them find new jobs,” he said.

On Monday, Villanueva said he would file a resolution at the Senate to ensure that government agencies are coordinating for a transition plan of displaced workers.

The inquiry, he said, would also aid legislation “in institutionalizing a mechanism to support transitioning workers.” RAM/rga


DENR chief insists economy would grow sans mining

By Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror - http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/denr-chief-insists-economy-would-grow-sans-mining/

5 February 2017

Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez said the Philippine economy would flourish even without mining, allaying fears that the closure of 23 operating mines would cause job losses that could affect 1.2 million people and billions of tax losses to both the national and local governments.

Sought for reaction to news stories saying the closure order would affect millions of jobs, Lopez said reports that 1.2 million people would be affected by the closure order are incredible.

A staunch environmental advocate, Lopez said in 2014 the mining industry employs only around 235,000 people.

There are 41 operating mines in the country, she added. “So where are they getting this number [1.2 million]?”

Meanwhile, the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) issued a statement affirming its commitment for responsible mining.

However, PMSEA, through its President Louie R. Sarmiento, said it appears that full details of the results of the mining audit has yet to be furnished to the concerned companies.

“The closures and suspensions, if affirmed, will have far-reaching effect, especially in mining communities that play host to these mines—employees and their dependents, contractors and mine-dependent small businesses will be the biggest losers,” Sarmiento said.

“In the spirit of transparency and due process, the PMSEA exhorted the DENR to release the results of the mining audit to clear any doubts and air of suspicions. As always, as a partner organization, the PMSEA is offering its expertise to the DENR,” Sarmiento said.

Lopez, however, is not keen on releasing the findings and recommendations of the 15 audit teams, saying she has no obligation to do so, unless President Duterte asks her to do it.

Lopez said the mine audit was meticulously done.

She said the closure of the listed mines would be for the greater good, as it will prevent destruction caused by mining and protect the community’s environment and natural resources.

Lopez was reacting to statements issued by the Chambers of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) about the potential adverse impact of the closure order to jobs and livelihood once this is enforced.

COMP Chairman Artemio Disini said 1.2 million people, which include employees and their families, would be affected by the closure order.

Representing mining industry’s big players, COMP will appeal their case to Duterte as they called on the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) to convene and tackle the closure order.

On Friday Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said an emergency employment program is needed to absorb workers who will lose their jobs.

He also expressed concern over the impact of the closure order to local government units that heavily rely on taxes from mining.

Lopez told the BusinessMirror that, if done properly, area development would allow the local economy to flourish even without mining.

She said ecotourism, for example, has the potential to generate more jobs and more livelihood for the people than mining.

“Mining is not labor intensive.  It is capital intensive.  In 2014  there was a government report that mining has created 235,000 jobs all over the country, while tourism has generated 4.7 million,” she added.

She said the benefits of mining is not enough to allow the majority of the people in the community to suffer while mining companies rake in huge profits from the exploitation of the community’s natural resources.

Lopez said that within 18 months, area development will allow communities to earn from ecotourism and social enterprises through agro-forestry and massive tree-planting activities.


Lopez: Mining audit team wanted fines, I chose closures

Jee Y. Geronimo

http://www.rappler.com/nation/160674-gina-lopez-mining-audit-team-fine-firms

7 February 2017

'I wanted to close and I wanted to suspend, and they wanted to fine. You'll just fine? I mean the rivers are red, they're in a watershed, and you'll just fine?' says Environment Secretary Gina Lopez

MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said she "didn't agree at all" with the recommendation of the team in charge of the mining audit to just impose fines on mining companies that committed environmental violations.

"They themselves say that there are violations. Where we differed was the action taken. I wanted to close and I wanted to suspend, and they wanted to fine. You'll just fine? I mean the rivers are red, they're in a watershed, and you'll just fine? What are you doing?" she said during a Rappler Talk interview on Monday, February 6.

Lopez was referring to the multi-sectoral team she convened to "go around" the mining sites and "speed up the process" of the mining audit that started in July 2016.

On February 2, or 7 months since the start of the audit, Lopez announced the closure of 23 mining operations in the country and the suspension of 5 others. Only 12 mining firms passed the audit.

During that press conference, reporters asked Lopez if they could get a copy of the recommendations of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on the mining operations, but she refused, saying that the MGB is only "recommendatory" and that showing their recommendations would only "complicate things."

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines later questioned the fairness of the mining audit, but on Monday, Lopez said they followed the procedure "from beginning to end." (READ: Confusion over the mining list: How did DENR decide on closure?)

"There was absolute transparency. We did the mining audit and then after the mining audit, we gave them show cause – that's the procedure. And then they replied to the show cause, and... at the end of the reply, we then decide on whether the mine should be closed or suspended or allowed to go on."

But Lopez lamented that her own team took longer than expected in going around the mining operations.

"It was like 6 months already, and they had only checked out 15 [mining operations], and I was getting irritated already because even the President says he wants things fast, so I just decided to go in it myself," she explained.

Lopez said the team's findings validated her own findings on the environmental violations, but she didn't agree that the mining companies should only be fined.

"We agreed on the violations, they also saw that there were violations, but their penalties were just fines, and I didn't agree at all, so that's why I decided, 'I'm not gonna follow you,'" she said.

Concerned mining companies can still appeal the DENR decision with the Office of the President. – Rappler.com


Philippines 'unfit for mining' because of nation’s unique ecosystem: minister

By Manolo Serapio Jr and John Chalmers

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-mining-idUSKBN15L0L9

6 February 2017

MANILA - Philippine Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez will not reconsider her decision to shut down 23 of the country's 41 mines, saying the Southeast Asian nation is "unfit for mining."

Lopez last week ordered the mines permanently shut and suspended five others, shocking mineral producers that have vowed to overturn a ruling that they say will affect 1.2 million people.

The 63-year-old minister defended her decision, convinced of mining's destructive nature.

"Every time you put up an open pit and every time you put up a tailing pond you're putting our country at risk," Lopez told Reuters on Monday in an interview at her office in Manila.

"It's really unfair. I'll be so blatant to say the Philippines is unfit for mining. Because we're an island ecosystem with biodiversity and endemicity like no other."

The Philippines is the world's top nickel ore supplier and Lopez has said that closed mines represent about half the country's output.

Three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange climbed 1.4 percent to $10,370 a ton on Monday. The metal hit a three-week high of $10,500 on Thursday when Lopez announced the closures.

A team that reviewed the audit of Philippine mines recommended the suspension of operations and payment of fines for environmental violations, instead of the closures, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Lopez said she opted to close many of the mines permanently so she can access rehabilitation funds.

"If it is closure, I can then heal the land. It is closure because there is no way you can have any kind of mining in watershed areas," she said.

Lopez launched the environmental audit of the mines in July, initially suspending 10 and saying 20 more were at risk of being halted. She is a long-time environmentalist who took over the department that oversees the mining sector last June when President Rodrigo Duterte came to power.

Duterte, who has said that the Philippines can survive without a mining industry, has thrown his support behind Lopez's decision. She will present it formally at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The minister's decision to close and suspend mines is "illegal and unfair,", jeopardizing an industry that has paid a large amount in taxes and fees to the government, the country's mining industry body said earlier on Monday.

Lopez stood by her action. "They're killing our rivers, our streams, they're mining in watersheds. That's against the mining law," she said.

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


Philippine miners say closures to hit 1.2 million people, vow to fight back

By Enrico Dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-mining-idUSKBN15I0B0

3 February 2017

MANILA - The planned closure of 23 Philippine mines, mostly nickel producers, and the suspension of five others will affect about 1.2 million people, miners said, as some vowed to take legal action to contest the decision.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez ordered the closures and suspensions on Thursday as she announced the results of a months-long audit on the country's 41 mines aimed at halting mining operations judged to have harmed the environment.

Artemio Disini, chairman of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, told a briefing that the first option for affected miners would be to appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte "before going to the courts".

"We have a total 1.2 million people affected including family members," Disini said.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said on Friday he would meet shortly with other cabinet members to check if they have "emergency employment programs" that could absorb workers who will lose jobs.

"My next concern is the impact on local government finances because (miners) pay a lot of taxes to local governments," Dominguez told reporters.

Enrique Fernandez, president of suspended nickel miner Eramen Minerals Inc, which has now been ordered to close, said staff levels had already fallen to 150 from more than 1,000 previously and more workers could go by the end of the month.

"The problem is the relationship between the government and the industry. The government is more of a regulator rather than a partner in development," Fernandez told Reutres.

Trading Halt

Still largely unexplored, the Philippines is the world's top nickel ore supplier, but the mining sector contributes less than 1 percent to the overall economy.

Only 3 percent of 9 million hectares (22 million acres)identified by the state as having high mineral reserves is currently being mined, according to government data.

Ronald Recidoro from the Chamber of Mines said on Thursday that affected miners would "definitely" seek legal action if President Rodrigo Duterte denied their appeal to overturn Lopez's orders.

Duterte, who last year said the Philippines could survive without a mining industry, on Thursday threw his support behind Lopez's latest action.

Lopez "took it upon herself to be the judge and the executioner of the mining industry," said Vicente Lao who owns chromite producer Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp, which has also been ordered to close.

Most of the miners say they have yet to receive any official instruction from Lopez's agency.

"Accordingly, our mining operations continue," gold miner Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co, which was ordered suspended, told the stock exchange. Lepanto said it "has not violated any environmental laws."

BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc, a unit of Benguet Corp, said it would use "various legal options available to it to nullify the baseless closure order upon its receipt."

The Philippine Stock Exchange halted trading for one hour on Friday on shares of five miners which were either ordered shut or suspended, or their subsidiaries, including major nickel ore producers Nickel Asia Corp and Marcventures Holdings Inc.

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Richard Pullin)


DENR suspends Lepanto

By Maria Elena Catajan

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/baguio/local-news/2017/02/02/denr-suspends-lepanto-523538

2 February 2017

Secretary Gina Lopez has suspended the operations of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation (LCMC) after deliberation of the mine audit last year.

Lepanto is among the four firms issued suspension including OceanaGold Phils. Incorporated, Citinickel Mines And Development Corporation, and Ore Asia Mining and Development Corporation while 21 other firms were ordered closed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) official.

LCMC vice-president for human resource and administration Knestor Godino meanwhile told SunStar Baguio they have yet to receive the order from the DENR.

Godino however said operations will continue for the firm until formal notices are given by the DENR Secretary.

LCMC established in 1936, has been operating for 80 years and is known to be a primary producer of gold, copper and silver. The company also employs thousands both in the surface and underground operations.

Lepanto has a 60 percent interest in Far Southeast Gold Resources, Inc. which owns the Far Southeast Project, a world-class, high-grade gold and copper porphyry deposit. Lepanto 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.

Godino said the results of Lopez's audit is part of the review of the show cause order given to the 20 firms which was earlier suspended.

Mining operations to be closed include BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Incorporated, Eramen Minerals Incorporated, LNL Archipelago Minerals Incorporated, and Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation; all operating in Zambales.

At least three firms were also ordered closed in Homonhon, Samar which includes Mt Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corporation, Emir Minerals Corporation, TechIron Mineral Resources Incorporated.

In Dinagat Islands, closure were ordered to AAMPHIL Natural Resources Exploration, Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation, SinoSteel Philippines HY Mining Corporation, Kromico Incorporated, Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corporation, Wellex Mining Corporation, and Libjo Mining Corporation.

Lopez also ordered the closure of several mining firms in Surigao del Norte including Adnama Mining Resources, Incorporated, Claver Mineral Development Corporation, Hinatuan Mining Corporation, CTP Construction and Mining Corporation, Carrascal Nickel Corporation, Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation, and Platinum Development Corporation. Benguet Corp., which was earlier in the initial list for closure, was not included. Only Philex Mining Corporation passed the mine audit of the government of the three mining firms operating in Benguet.


DENR cancels ECCs of 6 companies

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=denr-cancels-eccs-of-6-companies&id=139319

19 January 2017

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has canceled the environmental compliance certificates (ECC) of six projects including those of four mining companies, for failing to operate within their certificates’ validity period.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez noted that the validity of the ECCs for these projects have expired, in accordance with existing laws in which a project’s ECC is deemed expired five years after the project’s failure to launch.

These projects with expired ECCs are Intex Resources Philippines, Inc., whose $2.5-billion nickel project in Occidental Mindoro is scheduled for operations next year; Mejore Wood Works, Inc.’s project in Surigao del Sur; Forum Cebu Coal Corp.’s coal mining project in Cebu; CEKAS Development Corp.’s mining projects in Misamis Oriental covering iron, copper, and other minerals; and Eagelerock Mining Corp.’s gold mining and processing project in Zamboanga del Sur.

Alltech Contractors, Inc.’s Coastal Bay Land Reclamation Project Land in Parañaque City also had its ECC canceled. Ms. Lopez said this project may interfere with her agency’s plan on massive mangrove planting.

Speaking with reporters on the sidelines of the press conference, Undersecretary for Legal Maria Paz G. Luna explained that sending out issuance letters to companies on the cancelation of their ECCs serves to remind them of the need to reassess the environmental impact of those projects to their concerned communities.

“The reason the ECC lapses is because it becomes a different environment... so we set the five-year lapse,” Ms. Luna said, adding.

“It’s better to have paper notices because otherwise, bigla silang mag-start up sabihin nila, ‘May ECC pa kami,’ tapos makalimutan nila, five years na pala [they might suddenly start up saying, ‘We have the ECCs, and they’ll forget five years have already passed].”

Ms. Luna said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had sent show-cause orders to these companies as early as last week.

To recall, the agency also affirmed the cancelation of ECCs of five projects last December, also on the same grounds, including that of Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc.’s Ipilan nickel mine in Palawan.

Earlier this month, the firm said it filed a complaint against the department to reconsider its decision to cancel the ECC of its Ipilan project, saying that the DENR had approved only recently some documents on the operation of the nickel project.

Ms. Luna said she has yet to receive any motion for reconsideration on the matter. -- Janina C. Lim


Philippines cancels permits of four more mining projects in green campaign

By Enrico Dela Cruz

http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-mining-idUKKBN1520GO

18 January 2017

MANILA - The Philippines has canceled the environmental permits for four more mining projects, including one planned nickel venture, as the world's top nickel ore supplier deepens a months-long crackdown on the resources sector.

The Southeast Asian nation has been reviewing hundreds of environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) including those granted to mines. That is separate from an environmental audit of the country's 41 operating mines whose results are set to be released on Jan. 31.

The four revoked ECCs include one for Norwegian firm Intex Resources' proposed $2.5-billion nickel mine on Mindoro island in the central Philippines.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez told a media briefing the project would damage the environment as it would be located on a watershed.

"Everyone there, the politicians, the church, the academe, they vehemently did not want mining there," she said.

A member of staff at Intex's Manila office declined to make immediate comment, saying the branch was waiting for an official response from headquarters in Norway.

Lopez, a committed environmentalist, in December canceled the ECCs of three nickel mines as part of the clampdown.

Firebrand Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has backed Lopez's aggressive campaign against mines causing environmental harm, warning shortly after taking office in June last year that the country could survive without a mining industry.

The three other ECCs canceled on Wednesday were for a gold mine, a coal producer and an iron and copper project.

A separate mining audit has led to the suspension of 10 mines with 20 more at risk. The clampdown stoked worries about supply of nickel from the Philippines last year, helping spur a 14-percent rally in global prices.

The Philippines' nickel ore shipments to top market China dropped 11.6 percent to 28.8 million tonnes in January-November.

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


Dinagat village chiefs warn of bloodshed if mining enters their place

By Roel Catoto

http://www.mindanews.com/environment/2017/02/village-chiefs-warn-of-bloodshed-if-mining-enters-their-place/

3 February 2017

SAN JOSE, Dinagat Island (MindaNews/03 February) — Blood will flow if mining companies set foot on our place, the village chiefs of Gibusong Island of Loreto town in Dinagat province warned.

The village chiefs aired the warning Tuesday during the 4th anniversary of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office where they claimed victory in defending the island against the entry of a large-scale mining company.

They recalled how people last year brandished bolos, spear guns and even stones to prevent the entry of Oriental Vision Mining Corporation of Cebu-based businessman Fernando Borja.

The company has an existing Mineral Production Sharing Agreement issued by Mines and Geosciences Bureau to mine Gibusong, which has an area of 1,150 hectares and three barangays namely, Liberty, Helen and Magsaysay.

Borja also runs Adnama Mining Resources Inc. that is operating in Claver town in Surigao del Norte.

“We don’t want the mining company to operate because we don’t want pollution that would destroy our natural resources,” said Nathaniel Dalago, the barangay chair of Liberty.

“Dili kami gusto mahisama sa mga dapit sa Dinagat ug Surigao nga nadaot na ang kadagatan ug kasubaan ug apektado ang panginabuhian sa katawhan,” (We don’t want to be like the places in Dinagat and Surigao where the rivers and seas have been damaged and the livelihood of the people is affected).

Magsaysay barangay chair Ronnie Cabas recalled they have petitioned against the planned operation of the company.

“We made a signature campaign and forwarded it to government line agencies and to our representative Arlene ‘Kaka’” Bag-ao, who helped us in facilitating our petition,” Cabas said.

They intensified the campaign using the social media and formed a group called “Gibusong Island: No to mining”.

In its website: Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp. said it engages in developing and operating three nickel, chromite and other mineral mining projects in Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte, and Isabela provinces covering a total area of about 5,900 ha.

Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp. is a 100% Filipino-owned multi mineral mining venture chaired by Salvador B. Zamora II and Fernando S. Borja as president and chief executive officer.

In 2008, the company acquired mining properties and operating rights with major deposits of nickel and chromite in Dinagat Province, and copper, gold, zinc, sulphur, pyrite, phosphate and coal properties in Sarangani and Surigao Provinces.

Established in 2008, Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp., acquired Sangay, Palhi and the Hibuson Nickel Project in Dinagat Island. The Sangay Nickel Project in Dinagat Island had been programmed to produce five million tons of laterite and saprolite nickel ores for the next five years with a partial confirmed mineable ore reserve of 5,064,216 metric tons with an average grade of 1.20% Ni 26.43% Fe and a partial probable ore reserve volume of 38,360,000 metric tons.

The Palhi Nickel Project in Dinagat Island had been programmed to produce five million tons of laterite and saprolite nickel ores for the next five years with a partial confirmed mineable ore reserve of 3,301,620 metric tons with an average grade of 1.40% Ni and more than 30.00% Fe.

The Dinapique Nickel Project in Dinagat Island had been programmed to produce more than five million tons of laterite and saprolite nickel ores for the next five years.

MindaNews tried to contact Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp but no to avail.

MGB-Caraga Regional Director Roger de Dios said the claimed holder of the MPSA in Gibusong Island has neither been revoked nor canceled.

“There was a recommendation from the monitoring team but it’s not being acted,” de Dios said.

Dinagat province has 10 mining companies extracting nickel ore and shipping it out to China.

On Thursday, Environment Secretary Regina Lopez announced that seven companies were ordered closed in Dinagat Islands, which has been a mineral reservation area since 1939.

The are the AAMPhil Natural Resources Exploration, Kromico Inc., Libjo Mining Corporation, Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation, Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp., SinoSteel Philippines H.Y. Mining Corporation, and Wellex Mining Corporation.

Lopez stressed that despite the presence of 10 mining companies in Dinagat Islands, the province has remained poor.

The secretary also blamed the government for not developing the ecotourism potentials of the province despite its beautiful spots.

Four of six mining companies operating in Surigao del Norte are up for closure – ADNAMA Mining Resources Corp., Claver Mineral Development Corp., Platinum Group Metals Corp, and Hinatuan Mining Corp.

The three mining companies in Surigao del Sur in the list are CTP Construction and Mining Corp., Carrascal Nickel Corp., and Marcventures Mining and Development Corp.

“Daghan na professional sa among lugar, nakapaiskwela kami sa among mga anak bisan walay mining ug nabuhi kami sa pila ka mga henerasyon nga walay mining sa amo lugar,” a villager said.

Agapito T. Patubo, officer-in-charge of PENRO-Dinagat said the preservation and conservation aspects were the main highlights of their anniversary celebration.

Patubo admitted that the island’s environment has been severely damaged due to human activities.

“Logging and mining are prevalent these days,” he said.

During the celebration Gibusong’s three villages received the Bamboo and Mangrove Development Project from DENR aside from getting the National Greening Program along with seven other barangays.

Lopez went to Loreto and Gibusong last week.

Villagers here said Lopez expressed outrage at local government officials in Dinagat Island who reportedly accepted bribes from mining companies.

Nene Elago, a resident of Dinagat who witnessed Lopez’s visit last Friday said the secretary used President Duterte’s favorite cuss words in lambasting the officials.

“Mga put*** I** kayo tumatangap kayo ng bribes sa mga mining companies,” Elago quoted Lopez as having said.

Rep. Bag-ao said Lopez’s statement did not surprise her.

Bag-ao said it’s about time to raise the dignity of her constituents who have remained poor until today.

“Kanindot sa Dinagat pero ang mga tao pobre. Ang kwarta taman ra gyod sa 20 pesos (Dinagat is so beautiful but the people are poor. The only money that can be seen here is 20 pesos),” she said.

Lopez was horrified by what she saw in Dinagat Island. “Oh my God. Grabe. It’s absolutely crazy,” she blurted out upon seeing the massive siltation caused by mining.

The secretary did an aerial survey of mining operations in Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur on Thursday and in Agusan del Norte and Dinagat Islands on Friday.

“Parang (It’s like a) nightmare. Sabi ko (I said)…aaahhh,” said Lopez as she showed MindaNews the videos and photos she took using her mobile phone. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)


Suspected NPA rebels burn Philex Mining Corp trucks

Northbound Philippines News Online- http://northboundasia.com/2017/02/10/suspected-npa-rebels-burn-philex-mining-corp-trucks/

10 February 2017

ITOGON, BENGUET – Armed men who identified themselves as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) burned two trucks of Philex Mining Corporation at Sitio Tadak, Barangay Central Ampocao, Itogon, Benguet at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Padcal Mines legal officer Eduardo Aratas said the trucks, loaded with gold ore, were on their way to Poro Point in La Union, when a group of armed men wearing ski masks flagged down the trucks.

The armed men introduced themselves as members of the NPA and started burning the trucks.

Police authorities who conducted initial investigation said the armed men ordered the drivers to alight from the truck and move away.

The security escort was also ordered to alight and move away from the trucks after taking his firearm and two-way radio.

The report stated that other vehicles were allowed to pass through before the armed men burned the trucks.

The Police Regional Office – Cordillera Region (PRO-Cor) in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) based in the region are now conducting land and aerial pursuit operation for the possible arrest of the suspects.

Check points were set up along the highways to inspect vehicles traveling to and from the municipality.

Meanwhile, Philex truck drivers Danny Bucay Aglugob and Rogelio dela Cruz Dulaguete, and security escort Danny Halip Bag-an were unharmed.

Police said the armed group may belong to the Chadli Molintas command of the NPA operating within the tri-boundaries of the Cordillera, Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions. PNA/Dionisio Dennis/STRINGER with report from William Garcia-northboundasia.com


 

Regulatory board mulls moratorium on small-scale mining

By Antonio M. Manaytay

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/zamboanga/local-news/2017/02/06/regulatory-board-mulls-moratorium-small-scale-mining-524186

6 February 2017

IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay -- The newly-reconstituted Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) mulled to suspend all operations for small-scale mining in Zamboanga Sibugay.

The board, chaired by Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau-Zamboanga Peninsula Director Alfredo Relampagos, had reviewed all sand and gravel applications, policies on small-scale mining, ordinances on mining from the local government units, and nominations of non-government and mining sector representatives in a meeting held February 3 at the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office.

Governor Wilter Palma, vice-chair of the mining body, said it is a good thing for the PMRB to have held its first meeting after it was re-constituted.

"There is a need for the Provincial Government to review its policies on mining especially on small-scale," the governor told Sunstar Philippines.

Dozens of small-scale mining operations proliferate in the province. It was not ascertained, however, whether these operations were situated in a declared Minahan ng Bayan zone.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Administrative Order 2015-03, which is the implementing rules and regulations of People's Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991, mandates that "no small-scale mining shall be undertaken outside a Minahang Bayan and that no entity shall engage in small-scale mining without a small-scale mining contract."

The order also mandated that "all persons undertaking or intending to undertake small-scale mining shall register as small-scale miners" with the PMRB.

Palma said it is important for the province to determine who and where these small-scale operations are, so that "we will know how what we can do."

Relampagos said the PMRB, as mandated by law, will make things easier for the provincial chief executive when it comes to reviewing all policies and applications for quarrying sand and gravel, especially in the mining sector.

It was not known, however, when the planned suspension of all operations and applications for small-scale mining will take effect. (SunStar Philippines)


Group claims nickel ore hauled from Zambales

By Patrick Roxas, TMT

http://www.manilatimes.net/group-claims-nickel-ore-hauled-zambales/311178/

8 February 2017

SANTA CRUZ, Zambales: Anti-mining group Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz (CCOS) on Wednesday expressed alarm over a report that a ship docked at the port in this town is being loaded with nickel ore.

CCOS chairman Benito Molino said their group has monitored the loading that was taking place at the port owned by Shangfil Mining and Trading Corp., one of the mining operators who were subject of a Writ of Kalikasan order by the Supreme Court (SC).

Molino said they have reported the matter to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

He added that Shangfil was conducting the loading through a Mineral Ore Export Permit (MOEP) issued by Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region 3 Director Lope Carino last year.

He said the MGB3 director has confirmed this to him and added the MOEP was issued after the SC issued the Writ of Kalikasan.

Molino told The Manila Times Carino told him Shangfil is not included in the order of DENR Secretary Regina Lopez closing 23 mining operations in the country, including four operating in Zambales.

Molino claimed there is no order from the DENR on hauling operations and no Ore Transport Permit (OTP) issued to Shangfil.

He said the matter of compensation for affected residents because of destructive mining is now with the DENR and the SC.

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