By: Ronnel W. Domingo - 12:10 AM March 11, 2017
Large-scale miners will focus on a second review of mine operations, this time initiated by the multiagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), as they await a definitive decision on whether Environment Secretary Regina Lopez’s appointment would be confirmed or rejected.
“We’d like to be very involved in the planned review of the MICC in relation to the recent decision of Secretary Lopez,” Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) vice president Ronald Recidoro said in a briefing yesterday.
“We will communicate with [the council] to know the best way to help the review process along,” Recidoro said.
According to Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a member of the Commission on Appointments, Lopez’s appointment was considered bypassed and President Duterte may or may not re-appoint her.
“We realize that we cannot work with her (Lopez as an industry regulator),” Recidoro said. “We tried, but nothing came out of our efforts.”
According to COMP chair Artemio Disini, Lopez’s desire to shut down 23 mines and suspend five others would slash 60 percent of domestic mineral output.
Disini said mine revenues have gone down to $2 billion in 2016 from $2.7 billion in 2015 and $4 billion in 2014.
Further, the COMP said “close to 6,000 mine workers” had been displace since Lopez assumed office in July 2016— and this was only in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, where four nickel mines are subject of her closure orders.
Before such orders were announced in February, Lopez had the Zambales mines suspend their operations.
These are Benguetcorp Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI), Eramen Minerals Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. and LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. —each of which employed about 1,500 people during peak mining season.
Danilo Calimlim, president of the Mine Workers League in BNMI, said Lopez’s promise of creating jobs once the closure orders were implemented resulted in employing only 10 workers among “the thousands who are currently without livelihood in Zambales.”