MICC to start review on mining operations
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - May 5, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) may start its review on the country’s mining operations before the end of the month, a member of the committee said yesterday.

In an interview with reporters, Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin said the MICC review may commence within three weeks following approval of the terms of reference and the formation of the review teams.

“We want to start it as soon as possible but we don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the review. We want to make sure that we follow the correct process. If you try to list down the things that we are trying to do, probably in three weeks’ time,” he said.

Currently, Agabin said the technical working group (TWG) overseeing the review is already vetting the members of the technical review teams and drafting the terms of reference for the assessment.

The TWG earlier decided to form five technical review teams, each with five members — including academics and practitioners — to go over the technical, legal, social, environmental, and economic aspects of the operations of the 28 mining sites ordered closed and suspended by former environment secretary Regina Lopez.

“Our plan is for them to complete the review in three months, each team will review from five to six mines,” Agabin said.

The MICC is also currently awaiting the Department of Budget and Management’s approval of the P50 million budget needed for the review.

“It is still in the works, but we are quite optimistic that it will be approved. Again the P50 million will not only be spent on the (28), it will cover all operating mines,” Agabin said.

Agabin, who represents the DOF in the TWG, had earlier said the MICC review would continue despite the Commission on Appointments’ rejection of Lopez as environment secretary.

“Definitely, it will continue because it’s the mandate of the MICC to do just that regardless who’s in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” he said.

He added that the decision whether to recall the closure and suspension orders of Lopez or not would be up to the next DENR secretary to be appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte.      

In February, Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mining firms and the suspension of five others. She also ordered the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements.

Lopez also banned open-pit mining in the country.

 

  

 

 

  

BAYANI AGABIN
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