March 3, 2017
The Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) has approved the guidelines on the conduct of an “objective, fact-finding, science-based” review of mining operations nationwide, starting with those ordered shuttered or suspended last month by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The council, co-chaired Secretaries Carlos Dominguez III of the Department of Finance (DOF) and Regina Lopez of the DENR, also decided in its Friday meeting to complete the review by five interdisciplinary technical review teams within three months, with primary focus on the technical, legal, social, environmental and economic aspects of the affected mining operations.
“The council approved the guidelines for the conduct of an objective, fact-finding and science-based review of the operations of the mining companies, in accordance with specific mining contracts concerned and other pertinent laws rules and regulations,” said Dominguez after the meeting, according to a statement by the finance department.
Lopez was represented by DENR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Maria Paz Luna.
It was the MICC's second meeting since Lopez ordered last Feb. 2 the closure of 23 mine sites and the suspension of five others on environmental grounds. The DENR secretary later cancelled on Feb. 14 75 mineral production sharing agreements still in the pre-operation stage.
The review, which is mandated under Executive Order No. 79, “will initially cover the 28 mine sites that were recommended for closure and suspension,” according to the guidelines approved by the MICC.
In the meeting, the labor department expressed concern over high costs of the emergency employment program that had to be put in place to support workers who might be displaced should the DENR 's closure and suspension orders push through.
Joji Aragon, Assistant Labor Secretary for Legal, Legislative and International Affairs, said at the meeting the department will assess and look at the impact of the mine closures on employment and job displacement.
Aragon said the department is working on a comprehensive transition plan in case the mines are closed.
The MICC will present the findings and submit its recommendations to the Office of the President, which shall make a final decision on the DENR's closure and suspension orders, the approved guidelines stated. DMS
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