MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to issue suspension orders to two mining companies operating in Homonhon Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar on Friday, August 12.
The DENR’s ongoing audit revealed that Mt Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corporation and Emir Mineral Resources Corporation committed several violations, enough to warrant suspension of their operations, Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno said in a news briefing on Thursday, August 11.
“[The violations are] siltation, discoloration of water, lack of drainage system, indiscriminate mining plans, [and] no reforestation,” Jasareno said.
Jasareno, who heads the DENR’s mining audit team, said Mt Sinai produces chromite, while Emir – a medium-scale mine – produces nickel. Emir produced 50,000 to 75,000 tons of nickel in 2015.
Mt Sinai, meanwhile, has voluntarily suspended operations “several months back” or earlier in 2016. Jasareno said the company was affected when the price of chromite dropped in 2015. It was also affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
“Nasira ‘yung plant. The issue is, with the care and maintenance, ‘di naayos ng mabuti, [kaya] kahit walang operations, may mga environmental impact. With the audit, obligado na silang mag-suspend,” he explained.
(The plant was destroyed. The issue is, with the care and maintenance, they did not fix it properly, so even with suspended operations, it still has an environmental impact. With the audit, it is now obliged to continue suspension.)
To date, the DENR has already suspended 8 mining firms since the audit on all existing mines in the country began in July:
- BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Incorporated
- Eramen Minerals Incorporated
- LNL Archipelago Minerals Incorporated
- Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation
- Berong Nickel
- Claver Minerals
- Ore Asia Mining Development Corporation
The audit is expected to end by mid-August. (READ: Duterte: ‘Amend, suspend, revoke’ environmental permits, if needed)
On Thursday, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said even with the ongoing audit, she has not yet seen a model of responsible mining.
“I know one thing: For after a hundred years of mining in this country, we don’t even have one – not even one – rehabilitated mine site. Not one, that I’m sure of. We don’t have one mine which is beautiful, the people are happy, the economy has gone up,” she said.
Lopez was a known anti-mining advocate prior to her appointment to the DENR. On Thursday, she revealed her plans to change her department’s processes when it comes to the issuance of environmental compliance certificates. – Rappler.com
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