DOF orders release of mining audit report

The Department of Finance (DOF) ordered the unconditional release of a report summarizing the results of an outside audit on large-scale metallic mines across the country.

In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III ordered the “preparation and dissemination” of a report containing the key findings of independent experts tasked by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC).

Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III

Underscoring the MICC’s transparency in ordering the mining audit, Dominguez said the report should be reader-friendly and be made available not only to government officials, but also to the public.

The report would show that the MICC has done its job as mandated under Executive Order (EO) No. 79 and has made mining companies accountable for their lapses and inefficiencies, Dominguez said.

Dominguez, who co-chairs the MICC with Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, said the report should be completed and released by the second quarter of next year.

He said the report should cover not only the two-phase audit recently completed by the experts, but also the upcoming review of mines in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) that is set to begin this October.

“May I suggest that as this administration is ending its term in eight and a half months, that the MICC secretariat prepare a report of all the activities of the MICC, particularly in these reviews that were done,” Dominguez said during a recent MICC meeting.

Dominguez said releasing the report would enhance the public’s trust and confidence in government, and demonstrate the capability of Filipino experts in conducting mining audits.

He thanked the teams of independent experts, represented during the meeting by Gem Castillo, for its “very comprehensive report” and “for helping the MICC fulfill its mandate.”

“This is the only administration that has actually done a serious review of the mining operations as mandated by the Executive Order (EO). So thank you for making this very comprehensive report,” Dominguez told Castillo, in reference to EO 79.

With the third audit focused on the BARMM mines scheduled to be completed by April next year, Dominguez said he expects the report on all the reviews to be done by May 2022.

“The report should be in such a form that can be used by the ordinary reader and the public, and that it be made widely available, not only to government officials, the legislature, maybe even in the judiciary, but also to the public in general,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez said the publication and release of the report on large-scale mines will encourage the provincial and city mining regulatory boards, which are under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), to undertake similar audits on small-scale mining operations under their respective jurisdictions.

Working from 2018 to 2020, the teams of experts conducted their audits in two phases and focused on the economic, sociocultural, technical, environmental and legal aspects of mining operations to ensure the “comprehensiveness and objectiveness of the review process.”

The review, which covered 44 large-scale metallic mines across the country, revealed that the majority of the mines passed the legal and technical aspects of the audit, but required major reforms in the environmental, social and economic aspects of their operations.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Wilfredo Moncano said that after the first phase of the MICC audit revealed that many metallic mines required major reforms, the DENR issued several administrative orders to address the deficiencies of the mining operations uncovered by the experts.

After the series of DENR directives, Moncano said most of the mines showed “marked improvements” in the conduct of their operations.

A total of 29 experts forming technical review teams were involved in the first and second phases of the review ordered by the MICC.