Mining firms affected by DENR audit to be given opportunity to respond – Palace

MANILA — Mining firms affected by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) audit leading to their suspension or closure would be given the opportunity to respond, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that this was agreed upon by President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet during a meeting held Tuesday.

In a statement, the Palace official said that one of the agenda items discussed in yesterday’s Cabinet meeting was the evaluation of the environment and natural resources sector in the context of social justice.

“The President and his Cabinet collectively decided to observe due process with regard to the mining issue,” he said.

“This means companies affected by mining closures for violations of environmental laws and regulations will be given the opportunity to respond or dispute with the audit, or make the necessary remedies to ensure compliance with government standards,” Abella said.

Additionally, Abella said the Department of Finance (DOF) shall have further discussions with the DENR in their capacities as concerned government agencies of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC).

The DENR under Secretary Regina Lopez launched an audit last year of 41 metallic mines to look into the adequacy and efficiency of environmental protection measures taken by the said mining companies.

Based on the audit findings, Lopez ordered last week the closure of 23 mines, mostly nickel producers, and suspended five others for environmental violations.

In response, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), which represents the country’s large-scale mining firms, asked the DENR to release the results of the audit that led to the closures and suspensions of more than half of the audited firms.

COMP said its members needed all the information related to the audit so they “could act accordingly” and their lawyers would know what to do next.