Philippine mining firms urge minister to publish audit – by Enrico Dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr (Reuters U.S. – February 7, 2017)

MANILA – Mining firms in the Philippines struggling to accept the government’s decision to shut more than half of the country’s 41 mines want the environment minister to release the results of the audit that led to the closures.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, which represents the country’s large-scale mining firms, said its members needed all the information related to the audit so they “could act accordingly” and their lawyers would know what to do next.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez said she would grant the group’s request, but reiterated she was standing by her decision, which differed from the recommendation of a team that reviewed the audit results.

Last week, Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mines, mostly nickel producers, and suspended five others for environmental violations. The Philippines is the world’s biggest supplier of nickel ore.

The review team had recommended fines and suspensions but no outright closures, sources told Reuters. “They (miners) can get whatever they want. No problem at all, just ask for it, go to the office,” Lopez told Reuters in a text message, reacting to the group’s request.

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