Lopez trains eye on Mindanao mining | Inquirer News

Lopez trains eye on Mindanao mining

By: - Reporter / @jgamilINQ
/ 02:33 AM July 28, 2016
Environment Secretary Gina Lopez INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez is now training her eyes on mining operations in Mindanao.

In a press briefing in Quezon city on Wednesday,  Lopez said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) audit and impact assessment on mining operations, which began earlier this month, covered six mining sites in Surigao. She said the assessments would hopefully be concluded this week.

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The rest of the mining operations in Mindanao will be audited next week, Lopez said.

Lopez said the DENR was focusing on Mindanao “because the President is from there, and I would like to ensure that, at the very least, in Mindanao their social injustice will be minimal,” Lopez said.

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Lopez also prioritized Surigao after members of indigenous people’s groups met with her earlier this week and aired their grievances against mining operations in their areas, particularly Sagittarius Mines Inc. in Tampakan, Sultan Kudarat province; SR Metals Inc. in Tubay, Agusan del Sur province; and Greenstone Mining and Taganito Mining, both in Surigao del Norte province.

According to Mines and Geosciences Bureau chief Leo Jasareno, there are currently 23 nickel mining operations in Surigao and Agusan, and one in Compostela Valley.

Nationwide, the DENR audit will cover 105 mining sites: 40 metallic, 65 nonmetallic, Jasareno said. All the reports will be submitted to Lopez by mid-August. Mining firms which fail the audit will be suspended.

Jasareno said the mining firms could appeal the findings of the audit.

“The audit is not just physical or technical. It’s also social and environmental; it involves the community. It’s a total impact evaluation of the mining sites in that area,” Lopez explained.

“There will be a moratorium on all new mining applications until the audit is finished,” Lopez said.

The DENR has already suspended seven mining firms in Luzon, four of them in Zambales province.  These include  Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. and  Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc. In 2014, a suspension order was already issued to lnt’l Archipelago Minerals lnc. and Eramen Minerals Inc., which remains in effect.

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The other three are in Palawan province: Berong Nickel Corp. and two Citinickel mining sites.

“A month ago, Berong spilled 1,200 metric tons of nickel into the corals in one of the best island destinations of the country,” Lopez said.

“They have actually broken rules and regulations,” she added.

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TAGS: Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Gina Lopez, Mining, Nation, News
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