Gov’t to go after big mining firms anew

Published May 2, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Madelaine B.Miraflor

Some of the big mining companies who already passed the first round of government-led mining audit will not be off the hook in the second round of mining audit happening this year.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) logo
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) logo

In fact, the forthcoming audit, which is expected to start in a few weeks, is mostly going to be about them.

Environment Undersecretary for Mining Concerns Analiza Rebuelta-Teh said that as much as 17 mining companies will be reviewed in the second batch of Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) audit. Of this, 12 mining companies already passed the audit carried by former Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez in 2016.

Based on the list obtained by Business Bulletin, the mining companies to be reviewed in the second round of audit include Philex Mining Corporation, Agata Mining Ventures, Inc., Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation, SR Metals, Inc., Apex Mining Company, Cagdianao Mining Corporation, and Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation.

Other mining firms to be reviewed, which also passed the Lopez-led audit three years ago, are Century Peak Corporation – Rapid City Nickel and Casiguran Nickel Projects, Philsaga Mining Corporation, Pacific Nickel Philippines, Inc., Greenstone Resources Corporation., and Taganito Mining Corporation.

Aside from these firms, MICC will also review the operations of Platinum Group Metals Corporation, Filminera Resources Corporation, FCF Minerals Corporation, TechIron Resources, Inc., and Tribal Mining Corporation, Inc.

Teh said the MICC, co-chaired by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, is yet to come up with a date as to when to start the audit, but it should be within this year.

“The target is to start within the year and should take six months to complete,” Teh said in a text message.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Finance (DOF) are expected to release P10 million each to carry the review.

A DENR official said that it’s the availability of budget that’s “holding the continuation” of the audit.

“On our end, MGB [Mines and Geosciences Bureau] is going to fund it and they are still processing it. As per NEDA [National Economic and Development Authority], they said DOF already has a budget but they are also still processing it,” the official said over a phone interview.

There are currently 48 metallic mines operating in the country, 30 of which are nickel, eight are gold, three are copper mines, three are chromite mines, and the remaining four are iron mines.

Twenty-six of these companies faced multiple, overlapping reviews over the past years, starting with the suspension and closure orders imposed to them by Lopez.

To see whether the orders of Lopez are credible, MICC had to conduct the first round of “objective fact-finding and science-based review” on all these 26 firms, while DENR had to resolve the motion for reconsideration (MRs) filed to them by 13 miners who tried to dispute their closure and suspension orders.

Under this first round of MICC review, all 26 firms failed to score ‘acceptable’ in the mine audit. They either need minor and major reforms or should be closed down in order to have an ‘acceptable’ operation, the result showed.

For the second round of review, MICC is eyeing to commission the same team of experts following their outputs on the review of the environmental, economic, social, legal and technical aspects of the first batch of mining firms.