Miners eye new group to police themselves

FOLLOWING the upheaval caused by a former Environment secretary’s order to shut down erring mining firms, some industry players are laying the groundwork for a new organization focused on policing their ranks and raising the bar for responsible mining practices.

This new group, to be created within this year, will be exclusive to miners who can attest to each other’s compliance to environmental and social responsibility standards, said Enrico Nera, president and chief executive officer of Carmen Copper Corporation (CCC), the country’s biggest copper mining company.

u201cWe’re learning from the experience of the past year. We really have to step up and start policing ourselves ,” Nera said at the sidelines of the Annual Mine Tour organized Friday, June 23, by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau at the company's vast copper mines in Toledo City, Cebu.

Currently serving as the voice of the industry is the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines. Nera said the new trade association could work jointly with the chamber in promoting responsible mining and benchmarking local practices to, for instance, Australian standards.

The idea of forming a new association is an offshoot of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) audit results, which had prompted former Environment secretary Regina Lopez to order in February this year the closure of 23 metallic mining operations and suspension of five others for serious environmental violations. She also ordered a couple of weeks later the cancellation of 75 mining contracts.

Her orders were not carried out because Lopez was replaced after failing to get congressional confirmation of her appointment as DENR chief.

The new industry association is expected to prevent another industry crisis by promoting responsible mining.

Nera said he was talking with fellow top executives and professionals in the mining industry to set the terms for the new group.

u201cWe have to sit down and agree on what standards to comply with - whether to maintain the DENR standards or raise the bar,” Nera said.

u201cThe challenge here is to raise the bar and really extract the best among the miners,” he added.

Initially, he said they were thinking of inviting other mining companies that passed the DENR audit last year. CCC, a subsidiary of listed Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp., was among 13 miners that passed the audit. (SunStar Philippines)


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