Philex forms committee for MICC ‘multistakeholder review’

TUBA, BENGUET – Philex Mining Corporation has formed an ad-hoc committee to prepare for the planned “multistakeholder review,” as opposed to the previous audit done by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), to be conducted by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) and in line with the Duterte administration’s promotion of responsible mining.
“We have to be ready for this upcoming audit by the MICC,” said Eulalio Austin Jr., CEO and president of Philex Mining. He added that the committee is composed of company executives and senior managers at its Padcal mine in this province. “It’s not that we are unprepared; it’s just that we are taking this seriously, as we support the ruling administration in its move to rid the industry of irresponsible-mining practices.” 
Philex Mining passed with flying colors the technical mine audit conducted by the DENR on all operating large-scale miners last August which, according to a statement released April 19 by the Department of Finance (DOF), “was not a multistakeholder review” as required under Executive Order 79, created in 2012 and tasked to implement reforms in the country’s mining industry.
Quoting Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin, the statement said the DOF came to learn about this during the recent meetings conducted by MICC and its TWG, or technical working group, where they approved Feb. 20 the “framework, process, and methodology” for carrying out the planned multistakeholder review in response to President Duterte’s order to reassess DENR’s mine audit.
It also said Agabin was puzzled about claims by the DENR that the MICC had “no legal basis to undertake a review of mining operations—even though she herself had agreed to the multistakeholder review and signed the MICC resolution to that effect.”
The DOF and the DENR convened Feb. 9 the MICC, which is mandated by law to review all mining-related rules and regulations, issuances and agreements, upon the directive issued by Duterte during the Feb. 7 Cabinet meeting.
“While Section 3 of EO 79 provides that a ‘multistakeholder team led by the DENR shall conduct a review of the performance of mining operations’ in the country every two years, no such review has been done since EO 79 took effect in 2012,” the DOF said, quoting Agabin.
Co-chaired by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and DENR Secretary-designate Regina Lopez, who was bypassed by the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) in a confirmation hearing done before it went on recess for the Holy Week, the MICC carried out a comprehensive discussion on the results of the DENR audit and Lopez’s decision to close down 23 mines and suspend five others.
Lopez also ordered in February to cancel the MPSA, or Mine Production Sharing Agreement, of 75 mines, including the Silangan project, in Surigao del Norte, on the grounds that these sit on watersheds, where mining is prohibited. The project is owned by the Silangan Mindanao Mining Co. Inc. (SMMCI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Philex Mining.
Austin has said the Silangan MPSA, where government shares in the production of a contractor (miner) in kind or in monetary value, does not cover areas in proclaimed watershed forest reserves, adding this could stand any challenge in court. He added that contrary to what Lopez had claimed, none of the four tenements under the Philex Gold Philippines Inc. (PGPI), another Philex Mining subsidiary, is located in watersheds.
In a statement last August, Philex Mining said it was grateful for DENR’s technical mine audit, saying it was an excellent chance for the company to have illustrated before the government regulators its being a responsible miner throughout its 60 years of operation. PR / ABN

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