Mining industry gasps for breath – by Val A. Villanueva (Philippines Business Mirror – February 8, 2017)

With over $1.4 trillion worth of minerals waiting to be excavated from identified mining areas, who could fault those who compare the Philippines to a poor man sitting on a pot of gold?

But that pot of gold is looking more like wishful thinking or an unfulfilled dream with what I believe is a reckless move by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’s (DENR) head, Regina Paz L. Lopez, to shut down 23 and suspend five mining operations in what was described in the industry as coming from an emotional, rather than a rational, mind.

Lopez, who has yet to be confirmed as DENR secretary by the Senate’s powerful Commission on Appointments, apparently made the move on her own, ignoring the recommendations of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). Her basis: these mining companies operate in “functional watersheds”.

In fact, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) believes that the closure of the 23 mining operations “may not have been based on the review conducted by the MGB.” According to Neila Halcon, COMP executive vice president, reports that reached them “said MGB personnel were even banned from her [Lopez’s] press conference,” where she announced her decision.

Lopez said the Philippines could live without the expected revenues from the industry. She also refused to reveal the MGB recommendations, but said she would be willing to share them with President Duterte if asked.

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