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MICC reviews open pit mining ban

The Mining Industry Coordinating Council is set to start reviewing the ban on open pit mining, a Finance official said.

Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin told reporters at the sidelines of the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines forum on Friday the review would focus on the impact of open pit mining on the environment.

“Remember, President Duterte met with mining companies. He has a statement there that he is not against open pit mining. He just wants that any damage that you caused, you have to fix,” Agabin said.

“And so going by that statement, MICC tasked the technical working group on economic affairs and on environment to again study whether open pit mining should be allowed or not. Because right now, there’s a department order that imposes a ban,” Agabin said.

Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin
The Environment Department issued Administrative Order No. 2017-10 in April 2017, banning the open pit method of mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores in the country.

The order, signed by former Environment secretary Regina Paz Lopez,  stated that “the use of open pit method in mining is hereby prohibited” and mining contractors that had not commenced commercial operations but with approved declarations of mining project feasibility for open pit mining

“are given six months to review their planned mining methods accordingly.”

“We just have to re-study that. Worldwide, around 85 percent of the mines engage in open pit mine. The issue there is can you manage it,” Agabin said.

Agabin said MICC, as a multi-sector agency, could advise the Environment Department on the way forward for open pit mining.

“There will be a study by the technical working group. It will be submitted maybe to the president and DENR secretary. In their discretion, if they believe that the study is well-based, then I can either adopt, reject, or modify whatever is going to be submitted,” he said.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said last month the ban on open pit mining remained in effect in the country.

Cimatu said the ban would stay until the Cabinet came out with a more definitive policy.

“Open pit [ban] is still in effect. It is still the subject of discussion in the Mining Industry Coordinating Council because there are pros and cons. It’s a policy issue and these are being discussed in the MICC,” said Cimatu.

Mines affected by the order include the $5.8-billion Tampakan copper-gold project of Sagittarius Mines Inc., the $1.2-billion Silangan mine project of Silangan Mindanao Mining Co. and the $2-billion King-king copper-gold project of St. Augustine Gold & Copper Ltd.

Topics: Mining Industry Coordinating Council , open pit mining ban
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