The multi-stakeholder team of the Philippines Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) has proposed a three-month review of the operations of 23 mining firms ordered closed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin said members of the team had agreed on the “composition, scope and process by which we will undertake the review.”
”No programs (yet but) essentially the matter by which we will undertake the review,” he said.
The Department of Finance’s (DOF) Legal Affairs head and in charge of the Domestic Finance Group (DFG), said they planned to start the review by March but the team must first get the approval of the MICC on administrative issues as well as on the budget.
“We will certainly try to start as soon as we can,” he said.
Agabin said the team planned to get experts from the academe but decided to exclude those from mining companies as part of the review team. He declined to give names as they have yet to talk to these people.
He said the study would be “done in a scientific manner” and would take into account the “technical, economic, and social aspects of the mining operations.”
He said any decision on mine site visits would depend on the review team.
Results of the fact-finding measure would be submitted to the MICC and recommendatory in line with Executive Order (EO) 79, which established the MICC, he said.
Agabin said MICC was mandated to conduct review of the country’s mining operations every two years, thus, the team and the MICC, as a whole, would respect the DENR orders.
Meantime, the closure and suspension of 28 mine sites across the country will cost 17 affected cities and municipalities in 10 provinces more than P821 million annually in foregone revenues, the Department of Finance (DoF) said.
Earlier, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd directed local treasurers to submit their respective reports on how the DENR directives could impact on revenues of host local government units (LGU).
Three of the municipalities will lose revenues representing over 50% of their current operating income if the affected mine sites are shut down or forced to suspend operations, according to the Cabinet official.
Environment minister Regina Lopez said she stands by her decision to shut more than half the country’s operating mines and bar mining in watershed zones.
Members of the government’s Mining Industry Coordinating Council will scrutinise the affected mines to ensure due process was followed and consider the impact on jobs and the economy after an outcry by the mining industry in the world's top nickel ore supplier. The review could take three months.
The council cannot overturn her orders, but its findings could feed into a decision by President Rodrigo Duterte, who has said he will review the planned closures.