DENR Chief remains firm on PH mines’ closure

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by Jamil Santos, Correspondent | World Executives Digest |

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez is unmoved by challenges from the mining stakeholders to reconsider her decision to close and suspend over half of the country’s large-scale mines.

In a Reuters report, Lopez stressed there is no way mines are compatible with watershed areas. “If it is closure, I can then heal the land. It is closure because there is no way you can have any kind of mining in watershed areas,” she said.

The mining companies are urging the DENR to publicize the audit results from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) regarding the closure, a move which Lopez strongly refused to make. They are cautious the secretary might have made decisions in contrast with the actual recommendations of the agency.

Lopez said she was dissatisfied with the sluggish auditing of the MGB. “At the end of the day, I make the decisions. Their only play here is to recommend but the mining audit was done on July and it took them so long. MGB has been really slow, I’m not happy with them at all.”

Louie Sarmiento, president of the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA), pleaded for transparency of the audit. “In the spirit of transparency and due process, the PMSEA exhorts the DENR to release the results of the mining audit to clear any doubts and air of suspicions,” he said.

Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) chairman Artemio Disini meanwhile said the body has the right to look into the basis of the arbitrary closure and suspension of mines.

The chamber recently claimed that over 1.2 million workers will lose their jobs.

Lopez over the weekend challenged the mining industry to give her a maximum of two years to prove that a ‘greener’ economy can create more jobs than mining could ever create. She also presented an available government data showing that mining only produced 234,000 jobs as compared to tourism’s 4.7 million jobs in 2014.