April 27, 2017
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Thursday it is banning all prospective open-pit mines. In a statement, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said the total ban, contained in DENR Administrative Order No. 2017-10, shall cover “open-pit method of mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores” She clarified quarrying will not be covered by the ban as such method of extraction would only be regulated. A quarry is an open-pit mine that produces building materials and dimension stones, such as granite, marble and limestone, among others. In February, Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mining companies located on or near watersheds. She also ordered the scrapping of 75 mining production sharing agreements which are near watersheds. Lopez said the destructive nature and its potential for a disaster were the main reasons why she decided to impose a ban on open-pit mining. She explained open-pit mining is a financial liability, poses risks to host communities, and kills the economic potential of the community. “I’d rather put a policy to ban it (open-pit mining) now that we do not have the technology for it yet,” Lopez told a press conference. Lopez said most mining disasters were due to the tailings spills associated with open-pit mining. The history of Philippine mining, she added, would show that most open pits have ended up as perpetual liabilities; causing adverse effects to the environment because of the level of acidity in those areas. Under the order, mining contractors who have not commenced commercial operation but have approved Declarations of Mining Project Feasibility for open pit mining are given a period of six months to review their planned mining methods. The order is also for providing water quality standards in open pits. At any point, the acidic water will never be allowed because it poses risk to the communities nearby, Lopez said. DMS.
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