The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is officially limiting the sites to be mined and developed in order to prioritize the environmental rehabilitation of the country’s mining operations.
In a recent department administrative order (DAO), DENR will now limit production areas to 50 to 162 hectares only, depending on the mine’s annual production volumes.
Nickel mines that are producing up to one million metric tons annually are allowed to work on 50 hectares. For those with output of more than nine million MT, they can work up to 100 hectares.
“Based on our existing guidelines, we do not have progressive rehabilitation which means that during mining operations, disturbed mine sites are just being left as it is. Miners just do rehabilitation at the end of the mine life,” Environment Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonas Leones said.
He also cited the absence of production limitations as one of the reasons for environmental destructions.
The DENR’s new order is still part of its compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s instruction to order the mining companies to prioritize rehabilitation and tree planting projects. Failure to comply with this order will result in the firm’s revocation of permits.
“We can decide on everything that will just be favourable to the mining industry. We allow them but they have to rehabilitate at the same time instead of waiting for the end of the mine life. They are earning from our mineral deposits, they should also put some effort,” Leones said
The mining industry initially gave a counter proposal on DENR’s new policy. However the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said it will comply with the government’s order.
COMP executive director Ronald Recidoro said that the DENR didn’t accept the industry’s proposal to implement its own policy instead of imposing limitations.
The DENR wants the new DAO implemented in the next six months.