Experts tapped by the inter-agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) are scheduled to conclude their review on 26 mining firms earlier ordered closed or suspended during the second half of this month.
Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin, in a briefing Tuesday, said five teams are conducting the fact-finding review, which began last February.
“The last visit I saw was, I think, (will be in the) second or third week of April. It’s those in the mines in Surigao. The others have completed their mine visits and they’re probably in the process of preparing the reports,” he said.
The review on the mining companies are being done following the decision of former Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez to order the closure or suspension of the mining operations for various violations.
Specifically, to look into how the involved mining companies have affected the environment and the economy, as well as some social, legal and technical issues.
Agabin said the results of the fact-finding review will be submitted to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the President.
“We hope to do a holistic review, not merely limited to the technical. Technical is on whether they have complied with all their permits,” he said, noting that “I do think you can review one aspect without looking at other aspects as well.”
The Department of Finance (DOF) official said the findings of the review, specifically on the social and economic aspects, will be used for the planed amendment to the rules or the Mining Act.
“That’s the whole idea. If you check the EO (Executive Order), the MICC is supposed to conduct the audit of the operation of the mines. We’re starting with the 26. After this round, we hope to do the review of the other mines – also subject to availability of budget,” he said.
Agabin said there are more than 70 mines that are currently operating nationwide and these will be included in the next rounds of review, hopefully within the year, if there are remaining budget and to be done by the same team.
MICC has allocated about Php25 million for the review of the 26 mining firms and Agabin said they are considering proposing that the budget for the succeeding reviews would be included in the annual budget.
“I think if it will be an annual undertaking, we have to (propose that it will be included in the national budget). It can be discussed right now (that) we split it (between) the DENR and the DOF,”
he added. (PNA)