20 mines fail DENR audit, face suspension: Lopez

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2016 12:47 PM | Updated as of Sep 27 2016 03:51 PM

MANILA - (UPDATE) Twenty mines failed the environment department’s industry-wide audit of compliance with safety standards while 10 others were allowed to continue operations, officials said Tuesday.

Operators of the 20 mines were told to “get their act together” and were given seven days to respond to the findings of the nearly two-month long inspections, said Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.

The nickel mines who failed the audit account for 55.5 percent of annual output in the Philippines, which is the world’s largest supplier of nickel ore, said Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno. Eleven others that were inspected were allowed to continue operations.

Among those recommended for suspension was Benguet Corp., the country’s oldest nickel miner, for failing to rehabilitate a 20-year-old open pit in the mountains of Itogon, Benguet, Jasareno said.

Also faced with suspension were Nickel Asia Corp. unit Hinatuan Mining Corp. and gold producer Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co.

“I want to make it clear I have no beef with the mining industry but I am vehemently against the adverse effects that may happen that are happening in some of the situations. The commitment must be for the common good,” she said.

Semirara Mining and Power Corp.'s coal mine, which was earlier cited for violations, was not included in the report because it is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Energy, Jasareno said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has taken a tough line on the industry and warned the nation could survive without mining, while mineral producers have labelled a review of the sector a "demolition campaign."