THE 23 mining companies covered by closure orders issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) could still resume their normal operations since the instructions are not yet enforced, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters, Lopez said President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to give a green light to carry out the shutting down orders.

"It only takes effect when it’s rendered final by the President. For example. They can appeal. When the President says to close it, then, it’s final," Lopez said.

“When they appeal to the President, the mines still continue their operations while it’s on appeal. Then, when the President sees the appeal, then, it’s final. Then, the can go to court,” she added.

The President earlier backed Lopez’s decision to stop the operations of some mining firms in the country because of damaging watersheds and of “indiscriminate mining.”

While Lopez said it was Duterte who has the final say on the 23 mining sites, she said it would be a “miracle” to allow them to continue, if she were to decide.

Lopez said she could not allow mining activities in watersheds because it is “not acceptable” under the Duterte administration and her head agency, the DENR.

“It will take a miracle to convince to allow mining in watersheds because as far as I know, it’s against the law, it’s against social justice, it’s against the Constitution to allow any kind of extractive industry inside the watershed,” she said.

“I wanna close it down because if you suspend it, they can start again,” Lopez added. (SunStar Philippines)