Gov't won't lift abn on open-pit min­ing

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - By MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR

It is now the job of min­ing com­pa­nies to look for an al­ter­na­tive to open-pit min­ing method as or­dered by En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Roy Ci­matu — who, for the nth time, said the gov­ern­ment is not keen to lift the ban on the de­struc­tive method.

"We have to rein­vent min­ing in the Philip­pines or we will shut you down by the end of the year," Ci­matu told min­ing com­pa­nies dur­ing the Philip­pine Min­ing Club Lun­cheon in Makati yes­ter­day.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, Ci­matu said min­ers should pre­pare for a sce­nario where there is no longer open-pit min­ing in the coun­try.

"We will dis­cuss what will be the al­ter­na­tive to this min­ing method," Ci­matu said.

"I'm ask­ing you to form a work­ing group to find out what's the al­ter­na­tive to open-pit min­ing and you should be pre­pared to present this," he added.

Be­fore fly­ing to China in April, Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte said he would ex­tend the ban on open-pit mine if min­ing firms will fail to con­duct pro­gres­sive re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and plant trees.

To re­call, it was for­mer En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Regina Paz Lopez who placed the ban on the use of the open-pit min­ing method for the ex­trac­tion of cop­per, gold, sil­ver and com­plex ores in the coun­try.

Even if he has the power to re­peal the or­der him­self, Ci­matu said it's now up to the Pres­i­dent whether he will keep the or­der or not. Open-pit min­ing is an in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cepted method for min­ing where you ex­tract min­er­als from the sur­face.

Passed into law in 1995, the Philip­pine Min­ing Act, the main leg­is­la­tion that gov­erns all min­ing op­er­a­tions in the coun­try, cur­rently al­lows open-pit min­ing.

For­mer Mines and Geo­science Bureau (MGB) di­rec­tor Leo Jasareno, how­ever, said be­fore that the law is ac­tu­ally "silent in terms of the min­ing method that can be used."

Ci­matu said that mov­ing for­ward, min­ers should adopt new tech­nol­ogy to max­i­mize min­eral ore uti­liza­tion and en­vi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion

Mean­while, min­ing com­pa­nies which will fail to com­ply with a soon-to-be re­leased De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR) or­der on Pro­gres­sive Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion may face per­ma­nent dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion to ac­quire and take hold of min­ing per­mits.

Dur­ing the lun­cheon, Ci­matu pre­sented new MGB pro­posed reg­u­la­tions, which pro­vide guide­lines for ad­di­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal mea­sures for op­er­at­ing sur­face metal­lic mines and the set­ting of the max­i­mum dis­turbed area for nickel mines.

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