Cimatu to penalize firms who abandon mines without rehabilitation
Environment chief Roy Cimatu wants unrehabilitated mine areas spared from further environmental degradation.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Jonas Leones said Cimatu does not want these mines left in that condition.
Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 requires “contractors and permittees shall technically and biologically rehabilitate the excavated, mined-out tailings covered, and disturbed areas to the condition of environmental safety, as may be provided in the implementing rules and regulations of this Act.”
DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said 31 mine sites in the country are either abandoned, inactive, or closed such as Bagacay mine in Samar island.
MGB has started rehabilitating Bagacay mine, which was abandoned in 1992.
Last year, MGB’s Region 9 office cited the need to rehabilitate Zambales Base Metals’ abandoned mine in Zamboanga City.
“Though the area covered by the company for its copper mine operation may appear to be quite smaller compared to other modern-day mine operations within Zamboanga region, the impact of abandoned mines can be profound and may last for many generations,” the bureau warned.
Latest available MGB data show mining companies have committed, as of December 2016, almost P25 billion for environmental protection and rehabilitation.
The firms have also committed as of July 2017 around P14 billion for social development and management in their respective host communities and neighboring areas.
RA 7942 also requires the creation of a mine rehabilitation fund, based on a mining contractor’s approved work program.
The fund “shall be deposited as a trust fund in a government depository bank and used for physical and social rehabilitation of areas and communities affected by mining activities and for research on the social, technical and preventive aspects of rehabilitation,” RA 7942 states. (PNA)