Despite closure orders, mining companies continue operations

Not a single mining company has stopped its operations even if Environment Secretary Gina Lopez ordered the closure of at least 22 of them for various violations of the mining law, The Manila Times Online reported on Wednesday.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) assistant director Danilo Uykieng said on Tuesday that the closure orders had not been implemented because these were questioned at the Office of the President.

He said during the congressional investigation that the companies could still file an MR (Motion for Reconsideration) before the Office of the President and, hence, none of the companies has been closed.

Representative Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, head of the House Committee on Natural Resources, called on mining firms to stop giving the impression that they have fallen victim to Lopez’s whims when they have not stopped their operations.

“The secretary may be unorthodox, but for the first time, somebody of her stature called out these mining companies,” said Zarate.

Nickel Asia vice president for corporate communications JB Baylon questioned Lopez’s decision, arguing that a significant number of large-scale mining companies have secured ISO 140001 certification – the highest environmental management standard.

He questioned why the need for another audit as the company was already awarded the highest environment certification.

At the Senate, Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez said Congress would have to come up with more revenue generating measures to recover the expected loss form the closure of mining operations.

He said annual taxes collected from mining companies posted a steady increase from P20.6 billion in 2012 to P29.57 billion in 2015.

He warned that the possible layoff of some 200,000 employees directly working for mining companies should also be taken into consideration.